Nine of Ireland’s colleges will take part in a new online system, with funding of €80,000, that will allow students to anonymously report experiences of sexual assault and harassment, the Journal reported today.
Some of Ireland’s biggest colleges – including Trinity, the University of Limerick and NUI Galway – have signed up for the scheme, which those involved say will “give a voice to the voiceless” when it comes to sexual assault and harassment on campuses.
It is being developed by Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education in Ireland alongside the colleges, and is due to be up and running by next year in the form of a reporting system available on each of the colleges’ websites.
Students will still be able to report to their colleges any incidents of sexual assault and harassment.
The €80,000 covers the project for one year, according to the Journal. After that, colleges will need to re-apply to the Department of Education or find an alternative way of paying for its continued existence.
Gertier Raftery, Chairperson of the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland, said: “It will, we hope, give a voice to the voiceless.”
She said the system will “enable us to finally get some real data on the extent of the problem of sexual harassment and violence in third level institutions”.
There are aspirations that after this year, other colleges will also join the programme.
Rachel Skelly, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union’s (TCDSU) consent intern, said in a press statement that the project will “allow for the collection of meaningful data on the incidence of sexual misconduct.”.
Minister for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor, who lost her seat in the recent general election, made consent a political issue during her tenure.
In April 2019, Mitchell O’Connor launched a document that set out the guidelines for addressing sexual violence on college campuses.
The document, which was assembled by an expert advisory group, called on the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education to support Irish colleges to “develop processes for recording and reporting on incident of sexual harassment, assault and rape on third-level campuses”.
“Sexual violence and harassemnt has no place in our institutions. It is unacceptable that any student, researcher or staff member should experience it”, Mitchell O’Connor said at the launch.