Take Survivors Seriously!

We’ve written this statement to ask for your support in our urgent campaign for Goldsmiths to take survivors seriously... 

 

Dear Goldsmiths University: TAKE SURVIVORS SERIOUSLY

Save the ‘Against Sexual Violence’ project fund!

We are writing this statement to ask for your support in our urgent campaign for Goldsmiths to take survivors seriously. The University has defunded the Student Union's ‘Against Sexual Violence’ project which trains hundreds of students each year on how to be active bystanders, citing Covid reasons. They have done this with no student consultation or public explanation. We think this represents a serious betrayal of the commitment the college made to our students, including survivors of sexual harassment and violence, and is a total failure of leadership. We have proposed a cost neutral plan to continue the work on this project in a Covid year, which has been rejected. We ask you - both students, staff, and members of the College Community -  to support us to get the funding back, and push senior management to take survivors seriously, as they originally made a promise to do three years ago.

 

What’s happened so far?

Over summer the Students’ Union and the College’s Senior Management have been in negotiations about continued funding for the Against Sexual Violence (ASV) project, which is focused on tackling sexual violence and misconduct at Goldsmiths (read a history of the project here). Since the project started two years ago we have trained hundreds of students on how they can be active bystanders in scenarios where they witness sexual misconduct. We secured this funding after four years of student and staff direct-actiona sexual harassment national scandal, and Goldsmiths publishing of a ten-point plan by the University for which they won a share of £2.45 million in HEFCE funding to help safeguard students

The agreement between the college and the SU was that the whole project would be funded by the College for three years. It would be a partnership between us, with responsibility equally shared to change the culture at Goldsmiths. Our experience has sadly been that this partnership has not existed in any meaningful way, and when we have raised this through the official channels, the College has either told us they are too busy to meet with us, or has denied it’s a problem. 

Here are some examples of why the College has not been a substantive partner like they promised:
 

  • Originally the project had a College lead person and an SU lead person. In the first year of the project there was an institutional project manager. This role was not filled after they left and so we have been left without a dedicated project lead in the University for the past two years.
  • The Against Sexual Violence Board, which the College chair, has been cancelled and rescheduled more than four times this year, often only with 24 hours notice.
  • The Chair of the Against Sexual Violence Board in the College  has never met with the Student Union Against Sexual Violence project lead, despite repeated invitations.
  • The funding for the project is only done on a twelve month basis, and the college in the past have not confirmed this until the last minute, this year having not confirmed at all. This means staff contracts on this crucial project are only able to be made a fixed term basis, and there is lots of turnover.

Our latest discussion with the College asked for the same funding as last year, and asked that they allowed us to divide this between two functions: training and advocacy. This would mean we could produce events and resources such as our 16 Days Against Sexual Violence programme, for which the University has produced nothing. They refused to agree to this and have now offered us only partial funding in the form of one part-time administrator (for comparison last year we had one full-time coordinator, one part-time administrator, and seven student-staff training facilitators). 

 

What is the aim of this campaign?

We have exhausted the diplomatic route with the College. After 5 negotiation meetings and 4 proposals and counter proposals, the college has landed on offering us only a part time administrator. This means two staff members will suddenly lose their jobs, events like 16 Days won’t exist, we will not be able to plan for potential Covid-safe Active Bystander Training, and the Against Sexual Violence project as we know it will cease to exist. 

 

We are asking for: 

The University to keep their promise and continue to fund the final year of the Against Sexual Violence project, with the same funding as was available to the SU last year, enabling us to run training and advocacy.

The University to honour the original agreement that the Students’ Union runs all student educational training programmes on this subject. There is still distrust of the University on dealing with sexual misconduct, after the national scandal in 2016, and therefore it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to lead on the training.

The University to replace the chair of the Against Sexual Violence Board with someone who can commit the time and resources to regular, constructive meetings with us.

The University to publicly apologise to its students and staff for not honouring their promise and to commit to the long term future of this project of culture change.

 

If you believe that Goldsmiths University should #TakeSurvivorsSeriously, SIGN YOUR NAME HERE IN SUPPORT!

For more background and context for the campaign, check out goldsmithssu.org/takesurvivorsseriously