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Gender-Based And Sexualized Violence In Higher Education

Tools And Resources For Prevention And Intervention

This page contains selected resources and materials that have been developed in or for specific university contexts and are available online. In general, the resources and materials address the information needs of equal opportunities officers, human resources managers or the needs of students and employees who are affected by sexual harassment or violence.

The programs presented here seek to prevent sexual harassment and gender-based violence. They can assist with disseminating relevant knowledge and point out opportunities for preventive actions at universities.

The Commission for Sexualized Discrimination and Violence of the Federal Conference of Gender Equality Officers in Higher Education in Germany (German: bukof) provides information and materials on the topic of Sexualized Discrimination and Violence in Universities in form of a guidance handbook. The resource provides information on various prevention measures, studies, reports and other material, e.g. in the form of brochures, and a video lecture on legal aspects of sexualized violence on campus.

In 2015, the Research Center for Prevention Innovations at the University of New Hampshire (USA) published a series of question items that can be used to test the effectiveness of prevention measures.

The University of Manchester (UK) offers an easily accessible tool to check one’s own perception of bullying and harassment on the website “Where do you draw the line?”. A series of vignettes proposes to assist users to evaluate how they would personally classify different statements. At the same time, the tool helps to increase awareness that other people might associate the statements differently.

As part of the nationwide campaign “Respect. Now. Always”, members of the top management of 39 Australian universities agreed on a zero tolerance policy against sexual assault in 2016, and made their position clear in this campaign. The campaign, which was accompanied by measures such as a survey on prevalence and a series of interventions, is supported by the Australian university association “Universities Australia”.

The higher education service EPIGEUM (UK) offers an online course on sexual consent called “Consent Matters”. The course is designed for students at the beginning of their studies and teaches basic communication skills. In addition, participants will be informed about how they can intervene when people are sexually harassed in their presence. Preventive measures that encourage interference in these situations are known as “Bystander Interventions”.

The “Intervention Initiative” of Exeter University (UK) provides free materials for conducting a training program to protect against harassment and assault through bystander interventions. It encourages university staff, students and employees alike to identify unwanted and sexual harassment and to learn how to intervene in these situations to stop harassment. Silence is not an option. The program, consisting of eight sessions, can be carried out by teachers or students contact points. Instructions give a detailed description of the different sessions. Furthermore, there are supplementary materials, such as a quiz and instructions for thematic role-plays, which can be used for interactive practicing of protective behavior.

Through the Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit the Scottish government provides helpful resources to support its universities in preventing gender-based violence on campus. It offers guidance for planning a coherent protection strategy for all members of higher education institutions and a training program for students, which is based on the above-mentioned “Intervention Initiative”. Furthermore, examples show how the issue of gender-based violence can be integrated into teaching.

A US-based association of university administrators founded the organization Culture of Respect to combat sexualized violence on campus and offers a variety of workshops on the prevention of sexual violence, some of them online. Two of these workshops are explicitly designed for men: “Men’s Program” and “RealConsent”. Participants learn how to identify situations as sexual harassment and how they can actively intervene to stop it.

The campaign “It Stops Now” was launched as part of the EU-funded project “Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third-Level Education”. In this campaign, institutions from Ireland, Cyprus, Lithuania, Scotland and Germany work together to combat sexual harassment in the tertiary education sector. The project site offers research reports, a toolkit with training materials and web seminars. The target groups are students as well as employees in higher education.

Intervention measures include tools that are used by universities to improve the acceptance of the reporting process for cases of sexual harassment as well as their handling, including improving the protection of victimized people in the universities in order to provide satisfactory support to survivors. A compilation by Paludi 2016 offers recommendations for action on how to deal with sexual assaults in US universities. This is in addition to the above-mentioned materials such as ARC3 and AAU (see also Empirical Studies Including Data And Method Reports on the page Survey Studies). In Scotland, universities are regularly asked about the handling of sexual assaults, including the effectiveness of countermeasures, see Donaldson & McCarry (2018).

The University of Manchester’s “Report & Support” tool offers to people experiencing sexual harassment, discrimination or bullying, contacting a counselling center online. Incidents can be reported anonymously. Students receive information about different forms of harassment through an accompanying campaign. The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) also offers a “Report & Support” tool as part of its “SpeakUp” program. At UWE, a team of researchers supports the development and implementation of the program (Bovill and White 2020).

The project “USVreact” (Universities Supporting Victims of Sexual Violence), with participation of Brunel University London, developed training programs for dealing with sexual violence in cooperation with several European partners. The trainings, which “USVreact” has carried out at various European universities, engage with university employees who work with students who were affected by gender-based violence or harassment. The materials are available in several languages and are free of charge.

  • The Sussex University program includes 1.5 hours of training for interested employees and 3.5 hours of comprehensive training, especially for people who have explicit contact with the topic and who work, for example, in university advisory centers.
  • The York University training is divided into two subject areas. The first part focuses on the knowledge level and conveys a basic understanding of the topic through definitions. Part two serves to learn how survivors can be supported.
  • Brunel University also offers training materials on how to intervene against sexual violence at the university. These include a PowerPoint presentation and detailed steps for the trainers to conduct a two-day course at university. Here one can find the documents for day one and day two.

A course “Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Violence” run by the British university service center EPIGEUM supports contact points and complaint offices dealing with gender-based and sexualized violence at universities. The aim of the course is to improve the understanding of the complaint situation, the people involved, and to gain confidence in taking the necessary steps inside and outside the university. 

With a view to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ending violence against women, including in higher education institutions, is an explicit goal of the United Nations. The 2018 UN Women report on campus violence prevention and response highlights practical examples from universities around the world and formulates guiding principles for responding to violence against women on campus (UN Women 2018 ).

A selection of quality-tested measures of universities in Germany are made accessible through the INKA database.