An important message from our Vice-Chancellor
A message to our students from Professor Nick Jennings, published 19 October 2021
Please note this contains content relating to sexual assault, rape and violence.
I’m writing to all of you, but this message is particularly for our male students. You may find some of this content difficult, but I’d ask that you take the time to read it. This is an important message which relates to the values and culture that we must foster at Loughborough.
You will all have seen in recent weeks the sentencing of Sarah Everard’s murderer. You will likely also have seen the response that followed in the wake of this. Tragically, Sarah’s murder is part of a repeated, continual and sustained pattern of male violence against women in our society. Think, for example, of the news of Sabina Nessa’s murder or that of Bibba Henry and Nicole Smallman. Sadly, this list could go on. You can find a list on the Guardian website of the 81 women allegedly killed by men in the UK since Sarah Everard’s murder.
We are also aware of recent reports of drink spiking both nationally and here at Loughborough and are meeting with LSU this week to discuss the situation.
I want to be clear with all our male students – the responsibility for ending violence against women is ours as men. Too often we see the emphasis or blame passed onto women as if it were their responsibility to protect themselves and hide themselves away.
Each year we see a number of incidents of male violence against women. We investigate these, we support our female students through the trauma and we take disciplinary action where appropriate. Last year we terminated the studies of a number of male students for sexual misconduct. This year, we have already seen further incidents at the start of term. We will continue to tackle these incidents but we need to do more to stop male violence against women in our community. We may only see a small proportion of incidents and by the time an incident has occurred the trauma has already taken place, and this can have a lasting and significant impact on victims.
All Freshers are guided through a Welcome module (Ready, Set, Loughborough) which includes training on consent and sexual violence. This is part of the Personal Best app and I’d encourage all male students to complete this. You can also access Consent Collective TV - you will just need to enter your University credentials to log in. Educating ourselves is crucial to challenging the toxic behaviour we see.
LSU also run Consent Workshops across the year. Over the next term you will see further campaigns on this topic. Please engage with these – as men the responsibility is ours to stop violence against women.
There are practical things you can do now to help women feel safer:
- When you see inappropriate behaviour from other men, challenge it – call out your peers and friends when they are being misogynistic or degrading of women;
- Keep your distance - don’t walk behind women in the dark; cross the road and give them some space;
- Offer to walk female friends home;
- Be an example for other men in your behaviour;
- If you’re concerned that someone may have been spiked, speak to venue staff if you are in a club, stay with the individual and keep talking to them and call an ambulance.
Although this email is focussed on male violence against women, we understand it’s not only women who experience sexual violence. For anyone who has experienced sexual violence at the University there is support available. You can either report it through our online tool (you can do so anonymously) or contact Student Services (firstname.lastname@example.org, 01509 222765 or visit the Bridgeman Building Monday-Friday 8.30am-5pm).
Security staff are also available 24/7, 365 days a year on 222141. We can provide emotional, trauma-informed support, talk to you about your options and support you through the next steps. London students can email email@example.com or contact the Student Service Desk (based on the fourth floor) Monday to Friday, 9.30am-1pm and 2pm-4.30pm.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and to act on the points above. I hope we can all work together to create the inclusive and safe environment that we all want to be a part of at Loughborough.
Professor Nick Jennings