Harassment and Bullying in Universities
If you are experiencing or you have experienced bullying or harassment by your university, here you can find help and advice on useful steps you could take, you could read experiences of other people in a similar situation, share your experience and find resources that may help you.
Bullying and harassing someone is never right. It is especially wrong when the person doing it is in a position of authority towards the person they are bullying. However, "a culture of harassment and intimidation is thriving in Britain’s leading universities”.
Just because British universities themselves accept or turn a blind eye to this practice, it does not mean it is acceptable or students or society should accept it. If you have been a victim of this, it is unfortunate, but it is not your fault. You do not have to accept this or allow it to continue: you have the power to change your situation and you have the power to choose how to react to what is going on.
Life is too short to suffer in silence and your life and your future far too important to allow yourself to be a victim. You can decide how you react to this.
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Help and advice
- What is harassment: Bullying is unwanted conduct affecting the dignity of people. It’s offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine or humiliate someone. Not all bullying is physical, bullying can take many forms and sometimes it’s difficult to prove you’re being bullied, harassed or treated unfairly. Bullying often occurs when no one is around to witnesses it. Bullying may be ingrained into the work culture and therefore not viewed as bullying. When bullying has been consistent and subtle over a sustained period of time, you might start to doubt your own sanity or convince yourself that it’s OK. (from the National Bullying Helpline).
- You have the right not to be harassed or bullied, even by your tutor or lecturer. What is happening is wrong and there are no excuse for their behaviour. Sadly, if this is happening to you, it is likely to have happened to others; so it's a small consolation, but you are probably not alone.
- What should you do?
- Ask your Students Union or Student Representative for help.
- Keep a record: When you experience harassment, write down the dates, places, times, and any witnesses to what happened. Store the record in a secure place, such as your phone. If the harassment happened online, save screenshots or emails of the interactions.
- Report it. It can be difficult to talk about personal topics, but - if you feel able to - you should tell your university about the harassment. Describe the harassing experiences and explain that they are unwelcome and you want them to stop. If you can, it’s best to make your report in writing so you can save a record of it. Keep copies of everything you send and receive from your university about the harassment (from Women's Health).
- Research your university’s complaint procedures. Most universities should have a specific procedure on how to respond to sexual harassment complaints. Some have a harassment officer. Follow the complaint procedures and keep records of it. (from Women's Health).
- Contribute to the community knowledge: what problems are you experience/are you experiencing? How are you solving them? What has worked/not worked for you. Connect with us on Twitter @DBetterAcademia.
Looking after yourself
If your mental health is being affected, try and seek help as early as possible. Many university and colleges offer free counselling for students. Some charities sometimes offer free counselling or a telephone helpline. Try Mind or the Samaritans. Don't suffer alone: there are many people in a similar situation to you, so you are not alone even though you may feel that.
For further Help and Advice
- Your Students Union or Students Rep
- Your local law centre(s): they are free centres where you can receive advice for your claim.
- Citizens Advice
Connect with the Social Media Community
What problems are you experiencing? How are you solving them? Any advice for others? Contribute to the community knowledge and connect with us on Twitter @DBetterAcademia.
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If you work at a university, you may have additional rights because you are being bullied at work: