Leeds Beckett University and students' union launch new zero tolerance website to combat sexual harassment

Students are being urged to report any sexual harassment and violence after a Leeds university launched a new ‘zero tolerance’ website to better understand the scale of the issue.

Leeds Beckett University and Leeds Beckett Students’ Union joined forces last week to promote the site’s online reporting facility and the support available to anyone affected.

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It builds on work which began last Autumn when Leeds Rhinos players made a video about the university’s zero tolerance pledge, spurring Leeds Beckett sports team, local bars and individual students into adding their names.

Kelly-Anne Watson, the union’s vice president for welfare and community, said she had spoken to 340 students on one day alone last week as events to promote the new website were hosted on campus.

“Students and university staff members have said they don’t know how to deal with disclosures,” she said.

Kelly-Anne Watson, vice president for welfare and community at Leeds Beckett Student's Union, has been championing the new website. Picture: Google/LBSU

Kelly-Anne Watson, vice president for welfare and community at Leeds Beckett Student's Union, has been championing the new website. Picture: Google/LBSU

“Because I’ve got welfare in my title, I’ve had a lot of students coming forward saying they’ve been raped or sexually assaulted in the halls or on a night out.

"We’re teaching people about the correct way to deal with these disclosures.”

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Last weekend, a researcher at Salford University highlighted anecdotal evidence that many universities were not collecting assault data properly to avoid being named and shamed.

Kelly-Anne said one of her key aims when she had taken on her current role was to improve reporting of incidents so patterns and issues could be identified.

And her efforts have won the support of university staff, including the Vice-Chancellor.

Writing on the new site, Professor Peter Slee said: “If we are to thrive as a university, then every one of us, staff and students, must treat other people with the respect we would wish to see returned to us.

"There is no place here for behaviour which undermines the dignity and human rights of other members of our community. None of us should adopt such behaviours. And none of us should accept or condone them.

"That is why I support and endorse the zero tolerance movement here at our university."

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