Lancaster students call on Vice Chancellor to act on violence against women

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Students from Lancaster University gathered outside their Vice Chancellor's office in solidarity with student groups from across the country.

The alliance came together to deliver a co-signed letter to their Vice Chancellors and the Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan, as they build toward launching a Student Charter on sexual violence.

The students point to a "national failure to work to prevent and respond to sexual abuse in Higher Education" and say they are calling on their university’s support in the launch of a national student experience survey so that all students can be heard on this issue.

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The gathering took place on March 20, marking 153 years since women were first admitted to a university in England, and involved students from the universities of Oxford, Bath, Liverpool John Moores, Liverpool, Plymouth, Lancaster, Brunel, and Leeds.

Lancaste University students delivering their letter to the Vice-Chancellor.Lancaste University students delivering their letter to the Vice-Chancellor.
Lancaste University students delivering their letter to the Vice-Chancellor.

Their joint letter marks their current dissatisfaction at their universities' work to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct, and calls on their Vice Chancellors, and Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education, to meet with them.

The students want to discuss improvement measures, and their support in the launch of a Student Sexual Abuse Experience survey that will capture student knowledge, use and support of their university’s systems on responding to sexual misconduct.

Running from March 20 to the end of June, it will be the base on which a National Student Charter Against Sexual Violence will be announced in September.

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Over the past few months, Empowered Campus (a not-for-profit project of the feminist organising group Love & Power) has been meeting with student leaders who were already campaigning or voicing concerns about their particular university's lack of progress in relation to violence against women.

Students say in the letter that they have heard repeated student testimonies that evidence "problematic cultures that normalise violence against women and survivor treatment that has lacked compassion and process".

These students have since come together, using this peer network to contextualise their university work and identify national failings.

Martha Jephcott from Love & Power said: “As a nation we send, and fund, more than half of all 18s into Higher Education, but often they arrive in a hostile environment.

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"We have known for some time that an estimated 70% of female students are sexually assaulted whilst at university.

"Love & Power’s own research shows that over half of sexual assaults happen on campus. That’s why student groups from around the country are coming together to identify and then lobby for change to reflect what students want and need.

"The first vital step will be the launching of our survey that will lead to the first-ever Students Charter on Sexual Violence.

"We’re calling on Minister Keegan to meet with us when our survey has finished to hear what students have to say.”

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Empowered Campus works with students, workers, academics and, university management to deliver sector-leading prevention and response strategies to sexual abuse and gender-based violence in higher education.

In 2020 it released the first-ever demographic led survey on sexual and gender-based violence on campus covering more than 8000 students to look at how disability status, sexual orientation, gender, and ethnicity affected students’ experience of sexual violence in Higher Education.

The research can be found at

Lancaster University have been contacted for a comment.