Over 100 sexual harassment allegations revealed by Sheffield Hallam University students

A survey in a Sheffield Hallam University department recorded over 100 incidents of sexual harassment and stalking in two terms.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 11:40 am

A survey by the Women in Tech society at Sheffield Hallam University revealed students experienced 126 incidents of harassment between September 2020 and April this year in one department.

Of those, 109 were against women, 11 against men, four non-binary and two preferred not to say.

The survey asked students to record experiences that would be considered harassment under the Equality Act.

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Sheffield Hallam University.
Sheffield Hallam University.

In a report submitted to the university, the author adds: “The form was shared through the society and word of mouth. If a formal reporting system were in place, I have no doubt the numbers would be much higher."

Alleged incidents were divided into three categories of seriousness.

There were 89 ‘minor incidents’ described as affecting the dignity of the student, such as being called “sweetheart” when nobody else was called this. Of these, 31 were by staff members to students, and 58 were by students.

There were 28 ‘more serious’ incidents – direct breaches of university policy, such as students using inappropriate and sexualised screen names on zoom or sexist or homophobic comments.

Seven involved staff towards students and in 21 cases the students were perpetrators.

And nine were described as ‘very serious incidents - breaches of university policy and ‘clearly defined as sexual harassment under UK law’, which could count as gross misconduct in a workplace, such as discussing sexually explicit content, and sexually suggestive comments in a classroom.

Two allegations were against staff and seven against fellow students.

A Sheffield Hallam University spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to the wellbeing and safety of our students and all disclosures of harassment are taken extremely seriously.

“Since being made aware of these reports, we have engaged with the student society and are implementing an agreed set of actions across the department to directly address the issues raised.

“Sheffield Hallam is a welcoming, safe and tolerant community and we will not stand for sexual harassment in any form.

“We actively encourage students to report sexual harassment, or access advice and support, through our Report and Support system at www.reportandsupport.shu.ac.uk. This can be done anonymously if preferred and we have a range of services run by experienced staff to provide support.”