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SETU welcomes launch of the #UnmuteConsent campaign to drive a positive conversation on consent, and to end sexual violence and harassment

05/10/2022
SETU welcomes launch of the #UnmuteConsent campaign to drive a positive conversation on consent, and to end sexual violence and harassment

South East Technological University (SETU) has welcomed the launch this week of the second nationwide #UnmuteConsent campaign to drive a positive conversation on consent and to end sexual violence and harassment.   

All higher education institutions are currently implementing a wide range of measures within the National Consent Framework (Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive: Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions). To help drive awareness and encourage conversation on consent, the Higher Education Institutions, their representative bodies IUA and THEA, the Higher Education Authority, and USI are today launching the #UnmuteConsent campaign 2022. The campaign seeks to mobilise the student community to make a difference, by speaking out, by enhancing their own knowledge about consent, and ultimately, by challenging and changing behaviours. 

The campaign was informed by findings from the National Survey of Student Experiences of Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish HEIs (2021), and the Active* Consent Sexual Experiences Survey (2020), as well as the experience of HEIs in researching and implementing action plans to educate and raise awareness about consent, and to combat sexual violence and harassment.  

Welcoming the campaign, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD said: “I have been very clear that the third level sector must lead the way in changing cultures, behaviours and practices across society to ensure that bullying and sexual harassment are not tolerated.  There is a particular responsibility on those charged with educating the next generation in ensuring that their students and learners are equipped to lead the change more widely across society. 

Everyone is entitled to a safe environment to study and work free from violence and harassment, and that informs the policy approaches and interventions that have been adopted across the sector. The #unmuteconsent campaign is a key pillar of our consent architecture which supports our goal of zero tolerance and ensuring that we change the culture on every single campus. I am pleased that students and management are working in tandem to create that change.”

#UnmuteConsent will roll out across all Higher Education Institute campuses and the website www.unmuteconsent.ie will highlight the support, resources and training available in each higher education institution in the country.

As the new academic year has commenced on campuses around Ireland consent is forming part of the student induction process in addition to the tools and supports this campaign seeks to highlight. 

By engaging with the support and training available in every institution, the campaign seeks to encourage students in:  

  1. Speaking out/reporting unacceptable behaviour and accessing support.
  2. Being active and challenging perceived norms of unacceptable behaviour 
  3. Talking about consent and relationships in a positive and confident way
  4. Practicing consent in their relationships and interactions

Beth O’Reilly, President of the Union of Students in Ireland said: “We must all continue to work towards having zero-tolerance for sexual violence and harassment on all campuses, and among our student population. This involves empowering students to increase their knowledge of consent, to change behaviours as needed, to speak out about consent and to report experiences of sexual violence and harassment. This is what the #UnmuteConsent campaign is about, and USI is pleased to be part of it, along with college and university management, and Government. Consent awareness is increasing in our communities, and we need to keep building on the work that has already been done.” 

SETU’s Vice President for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr Allison Kenneally said: “At SETU, we are committed to embedding a safe, respectful, positive, and supportive culture across our campuses which takes a zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment, violence and bullying in all its forms, and promotes a positive culture of respect. All of our incoming students for the past three years have been provided with Active Consent training, and this year I am delighted to announce that we will be rolling out Bystander Intervention training for all SETU students and staff. We are also one of the first HEIs to roll out training designed to tackle Sexual harassment and Violence to all staff, and we are working with various local and regional stakeholders on a range of other initiatives.”

 

David Denieffe, Vice President for Academic Affairs said, “SETU are delighted to support the #UnmuteConsent campaign, which is a vital part of our work ongoing across the university on combatting sexual violence and harassment. It will reinforce our university culture in which every member of the university feels safe and supported.  It also plays a vital role in signposting the crucial support services available to those who may need them”.

Joseph Ryan, CEO of the Technological Higher Education Association said: “THEA is delighted to support this campaign as it runs for a second time.  Our member institutions have done much to support an open conversation about consent, raising awareness of it among staff and students and embedding a safe, respectful, and supportive culture on their campuses.  Through this campaign, institutions have the opportunity to continue the conversation about consent, to normalise it, and to encourage our campus communities actively to increase their knowledge about consent.”

More information on the campaign can be found at http://www.unmuteconsent.ie