The NUS’s announcement that 20% of students experience sexual harassment in their first week at university is truly shocking. University is meant to provide students with the opportunity to learn to be independent, while at the same time feeling that they are living in a safe environment where they can study without the fear of being harassed.
However, worse than the figures suggesting that one in five students are subject to unwanted attention is the revelation that nearly two thirds of students aren’t aware that they can report incidents. In our front page article, the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS) says that at UEA there were just 11 reported incidents of sexual harassment during Welcome Week. While it would be nice to think that UEA students are not subject to as many incidents of sexual harassment as the national average, far more likely is that students at UEA are not reporting their experiences. Therefore, UUEAS must do more to help people know that they can talk about any unwanted sexual attention they may have received. The union admits that its attempts to raise awareness of sexual harassment via flyers and posters do not tend to lead to people seeking help until later in the term. Simply putting up some posters is not enough: UUEAS must be bolder in its plan to minimise sexual harassment so that all students can feel safe on campus.
Last issue, Concrete reported that some members of the UEA hockey club were under investigation by the union having played a sexually orientated game on their way back from an away fixture. While the team was never accused of sexual harassment, they were accused of potentially forcing people to take part in such games against their will due to peer pressure. On page six of this issue of Concrete has publishes an extract from the President of UEA Hockey’s apology for the incident, and his call for sports clubs to attend equality and diversity training.
This is likely to receive mixed reactions: while some may believe that such training goes too far and is patronising, others are likely to believe that these measures are necessary to ensure that UEA is a safe space for all.
This week in Features, Olivia Minnock looks at the topic of representation of students at UEA and the measures that are being considered in order to promote equality and diversity. UUEAS does a good job of trying to ensure that students from a range of backgrounds feel supported at the university, and the use of caucuses as a place for minority students to raise concerns is an important first step.
Writing in our Travel section, Akane Matsumoto, an international student from Japan, talks about her experiences of studying at UEA and highlights exactly why support is needed for certain students. She explains that there is much more to organise as an international student than many of us would think – for example, setting up British bank account.
“Students and the EU” is the lead article in Global and considers what staying in the EU and leaving the EU could means for students. Leaving would mean that EU students studying in the UK could face the same sky-high tuition fees as students from rest of the world. Further still, UK students studying on the continent would also be subject to higher tuition fees. As Matsumoto argues, studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity: it would be a great shame to see barriers to this study being implemented if the UK did not vote to remain in the EU.
Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, also make this point very clear in her exclusive interview with Concrete, printed on page four. She says that many students are so use to the benefits of the EU that they take them for granted and do not realise how different things would be if the UK were to leave. We hope that our article in Global will help students to understand the different arguments for leaving or remaining in the EU and might help ensure that when there eventually is a referendum – whether that be next summer or in 2017 – they are aware of exactly what they are voting on.
As I am sure you can tell, this issue of Concrete is once again full of interesting news and opinion pieces; there’s plenty to read about on a wide variety of subjects. While we now over half way into the first semester for the academic year, and winter is therefore quickly approaching – read our guide to winter at UEA on the centrespread! – new members are always welcome to join the Concrete team. If you would like to write for any of the sections in the paper feel free to contact the relevant section editor. Their email address are listed on the right.