WIT welcomes #UnmuteConsent Campaign as a proactive, collaborative approach to tackling the issue of sexual violence and harassment
Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) has warmly welcomed the launch of the national #UnmuteConsent campaign across all higher education institute campuses.
This collaborative campaign, supported by the HEA, IUA, THEA and the USI, seeks to mobilise the student community to make a difference, by speaking out, by enhancing their own knowledge about consent, and ultimately, by challenging and changing behaviours.
WIT’s Vice President for Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Dr Allison Kenneally, said “I am delighted to see the launch of the #unmuteconsent campaign, and to see higher education taking a proactive approach to tacking the issue of sexual violence and harassment. In 2020, 95% of first year students at WIT completed Active* Consent training, and last week, all of our incoming first year students also participated in that training. We are committed to rolling out consent training in full across WIT so that all undergraduate, postgraduate and research students have had the opportunity to take part.”
Training critical for consent culture
Dr Kenneally said consent training is critical to ensuring that students are informed and empowered to talk about consent and to enable WIT to build a consent culture on campus, to ensure a safe, respectful and positive environment for all.
“It is also critical that we support survivors of sexual violence and harassment to come forward and provide them with the necessary supports when they do so. In addition to our range of support services on campus, WIT will be working with staff and external stakeholders to raise awareness and provide training and information on supports, etc., to ensure that survivors who do disclose are fully supported.”
Zero tolerance - Minister
Welcoming the campaign Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD said: “Since my appointment, I have worked with student representatives, staff representatives and our higher education institutions to ensure there is a zero tolerance approach to sexual violence and harassment. I am pleased that our students and management are working together to create a safe environment for all and to ensure that victims of sexual violence and harassment feel safe to come forward. We have to be leaders in this field. We have to change the culture on every single campus and we will.”
#UnmuteConsent will roll out across all Higher Education Institute campuses and the website www.unmuteconsent.ie will highlight the support, resources and training available in each university and Institute of Technology.
As students return to campuses around Ireland consent will form part of their induction process in addition to the tools and supports this campaign seeks to highlight.
By engaging with the support and training available in every institution, the campaign seeks to encourage students in:
- Speaking out/reporting unacceptable behaviour and accessing support.
- Being active and challenging perceived norms of unacceptable behaviour
- Talking about consent and relationships in a positive and confident way
- Practicing consent in their relationships and interactions
Safe, respectful and supportive
Clare Austick President of the Union of Students in Ireland said: “It’s really positive to see a national campaign being rolled out in higher education institutions to raise awareness and build a culture of active consent among students on campuses. There have been many developments over the last few months in the areas of consent awareness and ending sexual violence and harassment on campuses, but we are still a long way away from fostering a zero-tolerance approach. The aim of this campaign is to empower students to talk about consent and contribute to the culture change we are hoping to see. I’m sure the #UnmuteConsent campaign will be a driver in helping us to do that.”
Speaking on the launch of #unmuteconsent campaign Professor Colin Scott, Chair of the IUA Vice Presidents of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group, said: “Sexual Violence and Harassment is a problem on third level campuses and across all strands of society in Ireland. The evidence indicates that incidents are under-reported. We know that there are comparable findings in universities in Australia, the US, and the UK. We want a safe and respectful third level experience for staff and students and know that a culture of speaking about consent can help transform how we as a society respond to unacceptable behaviour.”
HEA CEO Dr Alan Wall said as colleges reopen and students return to campuses, ‘it is important that we ensure that they are entering a campus culture that is safe, respectful and supportive’. “This campaign will help raise and maintain awareness of a critical issue in relation to our ongoing priority of ending sexual violence and harassment in higher education,” he said.
Joseph Ryan, CEO of the Technological Higher Education Association said: “ THEA, together with the HEA, the IUA and USI recognise the role we can and must play in creating, fostering and supporting a positive culture of consent. Through this campaign, we want to kickstart the conversation about consent, to normalise it, and to encourage our campus communities to actively increase their knowledge about consent.”
More information on the campaign can be found at www.unmuteconsent.ie