Durham University has ninth highest number of sexual violence reports, ITV finds

By Natasha Livingstone

Durham University has the ninth highest rate of reported rape, sexual assault and harassment at UK universities, according to a recent ITV investigation.

The report revealed that there were 26 reports of sexual misconduct in the last five years at Durham University, Durham and Stockton-on-Tees, the 9th highest number out of the 150 British institutions examined.

The investigation’s rankings come after an earlier national study conducted by the Student Room and Revolt Sexual assault revealed the scale of sexual violence at British universities.

Just under 5,000 current or past students, both male and female, from more than 150 British institutions, were contacted for this study.

According to their results, 62% of those surveyed had suffered sexual assault or harassment while at university, with 70% of females and 26% of males reportedly experiencing sexual violence.

The study also discovered that just 6% of those who experienced sexual violence reported it to their university, and just 10% went to the police.

When outlining the reasons for not reporting their experiences, 50% of people said they did not feel it was serious enough to report and 35% felt ashamed of what had happened.

Only 2% of those who experienced sexual assault or harassment were satisfied with the process when they reported it to their university.

ITV’s report is not the first time that Durham has come under scrutiny for its high levels of sexual violence.

As previously reported by Palatinate, the Durham was scrutinised for the prevalence of sexual harassment at the University in a Buzzfeed investigation last year. This article denounced Durham for its “vile culture of sexual violence”.

In the two years preceding the Buzzfeed investigation, 36 attacks had been reported at Durham, making it one of the highest ranking universities for cases of sexual assault.

In order to counteract sexual misconduct on campus, groups such as It’s Not OK have begun campaigning in Durham. The organisations run consent workshops and peer support groups to help bring change.

In response to the new findings by Revolt Sexual Assault, representatives of Durham’s It’s Not OK group told Palatinate that the findings are “really disgusting especially as it shows not enough has been done in order to tackle sexual violence and harassment on campus and in colleges.

“We should review how we tailor campaigns and work to link the work done within colleges and develop a university-wide campaign to address this together, whilst ensuring survivors do not feel they have been left behind or forgotten.”

They continued: “Figures for reporting are much lower than expected or desired. Some of the main issues surrounding sexual assault are the negative views around reporting misconduct instances for fear of the backlash.

“Durham University is improving in its appointment of Clarissa, the Sexual Misconduct Officer, and training staff to be able to deal with disclosures rather than pointing victims straight to the police, however it will take a while for the newly-initiated schemes to be recognised and used more readily by students.

“We need to build on the progress that’s been made in building closer links with the incredible work that is being done within Colleges including but not limited to Consent Campaigns, as well as Clarissa as the University Student Support and Training officer and the SU research into providing better support with Colleges and Associations.”

In a previous statement to Palatinate on the subject of sexual violence, Owen Adams, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) said: “Sexual violence and misconduct will not be tolerated at Durham University and if a member of our community experiences this, they will be supported.

“Sexual violence and misconduct is a matter of international concern. The University is taking major steps to create a community where survivors are supported while striving to eliminate sexual violence.”

Photograph: Nicola Todhunter

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