Improving the Responses of Cambridge University and its Colleges to Student Reports of Misconduct of an Intimate Nature (MIN)

Sophia Cooke1, Bridget Shaffrey2, Sian Creely3 & Lily Bentley4

25th April 2018

1 Graduate Women’s Officer for King’s College, Cambridge

2 Women’s Officer for Cambridge University’s Graduate Union

3 Graduate Representative for the Cambridge University Students’ Union Women’s Campaign

4 Graduate Women’s Welfare Officer for Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

A) Definition of Misconduct of an Intimate Nature (MIN)

MIN is a new term being used here to incorporate a variety of forms of intimate and sexual abuse. It includes, but is not limited to, the following:

B) Current University Procedures for Handling MIN

In October 2017, the University launched a campaign against sexual misconduct called “Breaking the Silence” (Cambridge University – News). The aims of this were to raise awareness of harassment and sexual misconduct at the University and to create a better system for students and staff to report any such behaviour. As part of this, both an informal and an anonymous reporting process were introduced, which provide alternatives to the formal reporting process that was already in place. If a student wishes to report another student or a staff member for MIN, they currently have the following options:

A student can only choose one of these options – a situation cannot be dealt with by both a College and the University. In addition, if a student involves the Police, any University or College procedure will be put on hold until the Police case is closed.

In addition, as part of Breaking the Silence, the University employed a Sexual Assault and Harassment Adviser (SAHA) (University of Cambridge – Counselling Service).

C) Main Issues with Current University Procedures for Handling MIN

Although the University system has been much improved with the launch of Breaking the Silence, we feel it still falls short in several ways, including the following:

1. Student Awareness

2. Webpages

3. Reporting Procedures

4. Colleges & Departments

5. Intimate Partner Abuse (IPA)

6. Marginalised Groups

7. The Sexual Assault and Harassment Adviser (SAHA)

8. Personal Relationships Policy

D) Recommendations for Improving the University Procedures for Handling MIN

1. Student Awareness

2. Webpages

3. Reporting Procedures

In line with the recommendation from the Home Office that victims of violence and harassment be at the “centre of service delivery” (Home Office – VAWG National Statement of Expectations), we feel that the following should be undertaken:

4. Colleges & Departments

5. Intimate Partner Abuse (IPA)

6. Marginalised Groups

7. The Sexual Assault and Harassment Adviser (SAHA)

8. Personal Relationships Policy

9. Additional Recommendations

E) Beneficial Changes Already Made to the University Procedures for Handling MIN

As a result of recommendations that we have already made, the wording of some parts of the form for informal reporting has been changed. Specifically:

F) Timeline

We feel strongly that these changes should be made as soon as possible. As it is university policy for major changes to regulations only to be made before the start of an academic year, we would like to see the majority of these aims reached by September 2018.  

G) Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the following people for their advice and assistance in producing this report:

H) References