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Sexual violence and harassment: a UCU statement

23 November 2017

The national executive committee agreed this statement on sexual violence and harassment and are asking branches to adopt the statement locally and seek implementation of the union's model policy with their employer.

1.1  Sexual harassment and abuse is receiving ongoing media coverage, highlighting its harmful consequences, especially where combined with power inequalities. Sexual misconduct within universities and colleges is also now receiving renewed attention. Sexual harassment and abuse is overwhelmingly, although not exclusively, experienced by women and contributes to other workplace inequalities faced by female members and students.

1.2  We stand in solidarity with all of those opposing sexual violence and harassment. We recognise that sexual harassment and violence are endemic in society, and that our movement and the sectors we organise in are unfortunately not exempt. The transformative power of education gives us a particular responsibility to confront and challenge violence and harassment within our union and across our colleges and universities.

1.3  UCU members are affected by sexual harassment and sexual abuse, some as a direct experience. Other members risk victimisation from those with power in their workplace when supporting students or colleagues who speak out about the harassment or violence they have experienced.

1.4  We recognise the enormous challenges faced by those who experience violence and harassment, and the pressures they face, from perpetrators and others in power, not to complain about violence, abuse and harassment. We are committed to ensuring there is a safe, fair and transparent system to address their experiences.

1.5  We believe that all women who complain of male violence have the right to be listened to and supported.

1.6  We recognise that there may be a legacy of abuse that continues beyond the conclusion of formal processes and that UCU support should reflect this including providing support for victims and supporters who face retaliation.

1.7  All members have a responsibility to work to ensure that our union is a safe space. 

1.8  We as a national executive committee affirm:

  • prioritising local implementation of the sexual harassment model policy in all branches
  • encouraging reps to attend sexual harassment training
  • working with NUS, 1752 and Universities UK to agree procedures that are timely, appropriate, fair and supportive for staff and students involved in sexual harassment cases
  • fully supporting and involving ourselves locally in the '16 Days against gender based violence' which starts on November 25th 2017 (
  • circulating this statement and materials to all branches and members. We encourage branches to discuss this statement, endorse it and develop joint campaigns with their local students union.

1.9  Anyone who is affected by this please contact your branch, regional office or national office as you see appropriate. You will be listened to seriously.

UCU is currently in discussions with a counselling service to provide support to those experiencing sexual harassment and any reps who may want counselling support in supporting members. Further information to follow soon.

Full resources and information regarding the model policy can be found at the 16days link.

Last updated: 29 October 2019