Why This Campaign

Sexual Violence and Harassment is a problem on our university and college campuses and is under-reported.

We are all entitled to a safe and respectful third level experience, while at the same time we all have a role to play in ending sexual harassment and violence.

The #unmuteconsent campaign recognises the power of the student voice to drive that change.

The HEA Centre of Excellence for EDI developed and ran national surveys of staff and students to monitor their experiences of Sexual Violence and Harassment in April 2021. 11, 417 responses were received (7,901 students and 3,516 staff), and once again this survey found evidence of a high rate of experience of sexual harassment among students. 92.3% of the student respondents answered the survey questions on harassment, and their responses found that 66% of students had experienced offensive sexist remarks, and that 56% experienced unwanted attempts to establish a sexual relationship. Female students were particularly likely to experience sexual harassment and violence, and a relatively high level of exposure was found among gender non-binary students, bisexuals, students who were gay, lesbian or queer, and students with a disability. Worryingly, only one in four students agreed that they knew where to go to get help on campus.

So, while the survey also indicated some positive developments in relation to the likelihood of students engaging in bystander intervention, and a majority of students expressing confidence that their HEI would support a student who made a report of sexual misconduct, we still have a long way to go in addressing this issue. These survey results are consistent with previous national (USI and Active* Consent Programme 2020 ), and international studies of SVH in higher education.

For that reason, supported by HEA, IUA, THEA and USI, this campaign seeks to mobilise our student community to make a difference, by speaking out, by enhancing their own knowledge about consent, and ultimately, by changing behaviours.

“Sexual Consent is described as the freely given verbal or non-verbal communication of a feeling of willingness to engage in sexual activity. This description entails an ongoing, mutual and preferably verbal communication, and is consistent with the definition of consent in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, as where the individual “freely and voluntarily agrees to engage in that act”.

The #UnmuteConsent Campaign is proudly supported by:

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