Each year, AUSA democratically decides a Priority Campaign that will be taken forward for the academic year. Proposals are open for all students to submit, with AUSA Student Council voting on any proposals submitted. This year, Student Council voted to make 'Students Against Sexual Assault' the association's Priority Campaign.
Below is the proposal that was passed by student council, Keep an eye on this page for upates on events and updates!
Students Against Sexual Assault, thereafter referred to as ‘SASA’, is a campaign that strives to change the current conversation around sexual assault within the University of Aberdeen campus and the surrounding area.
This campaign has been created as a direct response to:
- Insufficient support for survivors of sexual assault at the University of Aberdeen.
- Lacking measures in university disciplinary actions against sexual assault reports.
- The strong ‘Lad Culture’ perpetuating the existence of sexual assault on campus.
Aside from the aforementioned points, this campaign is also a response to poor engagement with LGBTQ+ sexual issues, including the non-acknowledgement of the importance of safe sex and the ignorance to the sexual assault occurrences within this particular community. We wish to stress that we aim to promote safe sex for all, within our diverse student community. We strive to do so by working closely with University affiliated liberation groups such as the University of Aberdeen Women and Non-Binary Forum as well as LGBTQ+ Forum.
Lastly, SASA will be one of thousands of nation-wide student-led campaigns aimed at tackling the overwhelming problem of sexual assault during a student’s academic career. Thus, SASA will join sister campaigns such as “Let’s talk” at the Universities of Glasgow and Glasgow Caledonian, and the awareness-raising campaign “Standing Safe” at the University of the West of Scotland.
Campaign Aims (Including Ultimate Aim):
The ultimate aim of the campaign is to implement a strong and enduring culture of consent that will encourage both the decrease of sexual assaults on campus and a safer environment for survivors to come forward.
-We aim to increase preventative actions across campus as well as to create a safe space for survivors to come together, both of which are strongly lacking, if not non-existent, at the University of Aberdeen.
-SASA will work closely with the university to amend sexual assault policy which is outdated and ineffective.
-It will also work to implement official University of Aberdeen measures to deal with sexual assaults, including improving the reporting system, ending assaulters’ impunity no matter who perpetuated the assault and providing survivors with appropriate support within the University.
-SASA will strive to achieve an affiliation between the University of Aberdeen, AUSA and an external rape crisis centre body to either secure a counsellor specialized in sexual assault on campus or receive training on how to support survivors if the presence of a counsellor cannot be achieved.
-SASA aims to run workshops both with university students and staff members to spread awareness about sexual assault, educate about consent and what it looks like and ensure that the issue becomes visible on campus, with the ultimate hope to stop survivors from being silenced.
-Lastly, SASA aims to promote safer sex around campus, ensure contraceptive accessibility for all and raise awareness about LGBTQ+ sex and sexual assault within that community. It is fundamental that the LGBTQ+ community have a direct input in the campaign as an issue which directly affects them as well, thus helping to avoid enforcing stereotypes.
To summarize: we want both university students and staff members to be able to recognize the prevalence of this issue, be more informed about consent and how to deal with sexual assaults and harassment on a first-responder level. We also want the University of Aberdeen to take on responsibility when it comes to dealing with sexual assault and make sure that no one is benefiting from impunity, so that survivors are both believed, and receive specific, appropriate support from the university body.
Overall, SASA will work towards dismantling rape culture both on and off campus.
Metrics of Success:
Through events, meetings and social media, SASA will create a safe space for survivors to come forward and avoid feeling isolated. There survivors will be redirected to professional support and other resources if they request so. We will also work with staff members and university students to train them on how to give appropriate support to someone who has been sexually assaulted, as well as recognizing unhealthy thoughts and behaviours and dealing with those. Such training will be conducted through workshops and a potential collaboration with the National Students Union (NSU).
SASA will run surveys yearly to determine how many students are affected by sexual assault both on and off campus and see what area of support and action we need to focus on. The surveys will be run at the start and end of each academic year.
The surveys will focus primarily on the following areas to use as metrics of success:
- Number of people affected by sexual assault on and around campus.
- Number of people (including students and staff members) aware of what sexual harassment, assault and rape are.
- Number of people aware of about how to prevent the above-mentioned behaviours.
- Number of people aware of the services and support available to them on and off campus.
- Number of survivors seeking these resources and further support.
Our goal is to decrease occurrences in area number 1 and increase the following number of people in areas 2-5. If SASA manages this, it will be considered as a metric of success and will help us determine the success of SASA and appropriately adapt the campaign’s goals and area of focus for future references.
Importance to the Student Body:
Nationwide, it is a statistical fact that at least 1 in 3 U.K university students have experienced a form of sexual assault on campus.
On 08/02/2016, Sarah Young requested an official University of Aberdeen response on sexual assault cases reported by students between 2012-2015. The university replied that there had been “no reported cases of sexual assaults on campus in that time period”. However, we are aware of at least 2 cases to have occurred between that period that have not been officially reported. Considering the statistics aforementioned, we can presume these figures to be much higher. This shows a lack of trust between the student body and the University.
Among other things, this campaign would:
-Re-institute trust between the two bodies.
-Allow survivors to receive the support and justice they deserve
-Decrease the occurrences of sexual assault.
-Decrease potential drop-out rates as a result of sexual assault,
-And ultimately enhance the overall welfare of all students at this university.
Lastly, following the re-awakening of Tarana Burke’s “Me too” campaign, it would show that this university cares about current issues affecting the welfare of their student body and that they are prepared to tackle this prevalent issue.
The main goals of our campaign are to enhance the wellbeing of students through both ensuring that fewer acts of sexual assaults are committed on or around campus, through providing survivors with appropriate support on different levels.
This will be achieved through:
- The conduction of consent workshops aiming at educating students and staff members about what consent is and what it looks like, thus implementing a strong culture of consent around campus that will ensure consensual sexual relationships.
- Making consent and what it looks like more visible around campus and especially in student residence halls through posters, banners and social media outreach.
- Working with the university to amend sexual assault policy and ensure that both appropriate procedures and support are in place for dealing with sexual assaults, as well as making such policy transparent and accessible to all students and staff members. Students have a right to be made aware of, and understand their rights and what measures are in place for them regarding sexual assault and harassment. They deserve to be able to easily reach out to university staff members, easily access reporting procedures and not be faced with either a lack of resources and response or inappropriate response aimed at silencing them.
- The affiliation of an external Rape Crisis (Rape Crisis Aberdeen) centre to the University of Aberdeen and the securing of sexual assault specialised counselling, with the ultimate goal of having at least one fully-trained specialised counsellor working full time at the university.
- Working closely with Scotland’s rape crisis centres as well as potentially the NUS in order to provide first-responder training to sexual assault to both students and staff members.
- Inform students and staff members about the consequences of sexual assault and how to recognize self-blaming thoughts and self-harming behaviours in survivors, as well as providing them with appropriate tools for dealing with such situations.
- The establishment of a safe space for survivors to come together. Through events, meetings and social media, students will be able to seek support and resources, get in touch with other survivors and share their experiences if they choose to.
- Providing survivors with clear and transparent information regarding available resources to them and to ensure they are fully aware of these.
- Providing students with additional sex education. This would include raising awareness on different contraceptive methods and ensuring these are widespread, visible and easily accessible around campus.
- Raising awareness about LGBTQ+ safe sex and the specific prevalence of sexual assaults within that community
- Conducting surveys to assess any change regarding sexual assaults and harassment acts on and off campus and to appropriately adapt SASA campaign, its goals and area of focus to ensure that survivors voices are taken into account in how the campaign is run.
SASA will work to see all these different measures being implemented at the University of Aberdeen. Any other relevant actions for the campaign will be included as SASA develops. SASA will work towards the dismantlement of rape culture on UK University campuses through the implementation of very specific and appropriate measures that will provide short terms solutions required by the urgency of the situation, as well as the creation of a solid and enduring culture of consent at the University of Aberdeen.