YUSU’s Policy Review Group recently approved a policy proposal submitted by members of the University of York Women’s Rugby Club (UYWRUFC) to raise awareness of domestic abuse, and to develop existing support, information and resources for victims. We will be working with UYWRUFC, existing and incoming officers, and local service providers to develop current support provision and resources and to ensure that promoting awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence is embedded in to YUSU’s workplans and campaigns over coming months and into the next academic year.
In this guest blog, UYWRUFC’s Fundraising Officer, Lottie Massey, explains how the Club have been working with and supporting IDAS, a local domestic abuse charity, and why this is such an important issue for YUSU to promote and engage with students about:
Recently we found out that UYWRUFC’s policy idea concerning domestic abuse was unanimously approved by the University of York Student Union (YUSU) policy approval committee. This is a HUGE victory not only for the club but for the wider university community in establishing a historic mandate for YUSU to actively work towards the raising awareness and eradication of abuse on our campus.
In their lifetime, 1 in 4 women in England and Wales will experience domestic violence, and 8% will suffer domestic violence in any given year. Sexual abuse is particularly prevalent on university campuses with a horrifying 1 in 3 female students sexually assaulted. This is unacceptable and we believe it is crucial that YUSU commits to an effective domestic abuse policy, to stand in solidarity with victims of domestic abuse and demonstrate our zero-tolerance of domestic abuse.
We have been partnered with local domestic abuse charity IDAS for 3 years now. We work alongside them in various ways such as organising talks on campus, fundraising, and promoting their events. Now, we are excited to solidify our efforts into YUSU policy and ensure the continued responsibility of our student union to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
By committing to this policy, YUSU has demonstrated its assurance to raising awareness of domestic abuse. This should be done by arranging talks with relevant local services, distributing literature around campus, and raising awareness for the relevant support networks. Many people are not aware of what constitutes domestic abuse and hence this increased awareness will enable students to identify when either themselves or a friend is in danger.
The policy commits YUSU to increase signposting to relevant reporting and support networks available to students. These services of course exist, however knowing which to use can be a tricky puzzle to solve. This is currently an issue at the University of York, as Dom Smithies SU rightly pointed out in his article in Nouse earlier this week. He stated that over a 5 year period, only 25 cases of harassment were logged by the University of York. This is compared to what should have been 1224 cases as calculated from the 6.8% national average for reporting rates. This number is worryingly low. The low number of reported cases does not indicate that less harassment takes place on the York campus, but rather that less students are reporting cases of harassment in comparison to other universities across the UK. A higher reporting rate would mean not only increased support for victims, but also allows YUSU to better understand the problems that victims face and infer the best solution.
The policy entails YUSU’s commitment to lobbying the university to develop and deliver clearer policy and procedures on Domestic Abuse in order to raise the profile of reporting and support services available to all staff and students. We hope that YUSU’s commitment to domestic abuse awareness sets a precedent across other universities, unions, and institutions of zero tolerance.
UYWRUFC is committed to ensuring that gender equality and a life free from domestic abuse is achieved for all on campus at The University of York, and in the wider York area. This policy idea is all part of a larger policy proposal in which we are hoping for the University to adopt a fully comprehensive and workable policy for domestic abuse. We will continue to work alongside YUSU, the University and other relevant organisations to ensure this is realised and the safety of our students is prioritised.
If the information in this article has affected you or someone you know, please call the IDAS Domestic Abuse Helpline: 03000 110 110 or visit the website www.idas.org.uk for more details.’