Advice From The Advice Centre: Harassment

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Here at Wessex Scene, we’ve teamed up with the SUSU Advice Centre to talk about the kind of guidance and help that is available to you. This will be a monthly series that aims to cover the things that matter most to you as students. For example, information about your courses, housing, finances, among other areas. Of course, if there is a topic in particular you would like some more information on, just comment below so we can cater this series to you. 

– Editor of Wessex Scene

Dealing with Harassment

The Stand Up To Racism Society have launched a new harassment reporting tool on SUSU’s website, so I thought that in this month’s article it might be helpful to talk about what you can expect if you talk to us about harassment or assault. Finding the courage to come forward and talk about your experiences can be difficult and maybe even painful, especially when you don’t know what you will be faced with.

Our service is confidential, free and available to anyone who’s experienced or witnessed concerning behaviour. We can give you practical support, regardless of whether you have told the police, the University or anyone else about what has happened.

We have three female advisers and one male so you can, if you wish, specify whether you would prefer to speak to a man or a woman. We would ask to you to explain, in as much or as little detail as you are comfortable giving, what happened and discuss your options with you.

If the other party involved is a fellow student, we would discuss the University’s disciplinary procedure with you. The University does not tolerate harassment or bullying of any kind and has regulations in place specifically for dealing with such issues. When another party is involved, they would also be entitled to receive support from The Advice Centre but it would not be from your adviser as we have a strict conflict of interest policy in place. We would also aim to ensure that at no point do your appointments overlap in order to reduce the chance of you ‘bumping into’ the other party.  You would be advised of the services available within the University such as Enabling Services and Nightline and also support services external to the University such as your GP, Victim Support and, where necessary, The Treetops Centre.

We also have access to a Police Community Support Officer called Thomas Hickman-Tait. If you wish, we can arrange for you to meet him at The Advice Centre with your adviser present where you can talk openly and off the record about what would happen if you decided to involve the police. The idea of engaging with the police can seem scary but having the space to ask your questions knowing that nothing will be taken forward without your approval can be reassuring. You can treat it like a fact-finding mission.

We are completely confidential and there are only very limited scenarios in which we would breach the confidentiality. These would include where there appears to be a very serious risk of you harming yourself or someone else. In this circumstance, we would not take the decision to breach confidentiality lightly and this would be discussed at length with the Advice and Representation Director. In short, unless there was a serious risk, we would not do anything that you did not ask us to do. We wouldn’t speak to anyone without your involvement and consent.

As a final thought, we would discuss Special Considerations with you and how you feel events have affected your academic performance and whether you feel applying for Special Considerations would be beneficial.

If there is any aspect of your University life that you would discuss, you can always email us on advice@susu.org or phone 02380 59 2085 or visit us in building 40 above The Stag’s.

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Former English Student | Travel Editor 2016-17 |Current MSc. International Politics | Editor at Wessex Scene for 2017-18.

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