Speak Out, an online and anonymous tool for reporting violence and sexual harassment, is now available to National College of Ireland staff and students.
President of NCI, Professor Gina Quin, said: “National College of Ireland is committed to being an inclusive and supportive organisation, both for students and for staff. We need to know if, how and when people have negative experiences so that we can support all our students and staff and work to eliminate abuse and harassment.
“I am proud that NCI is now using the Speak Out tool to assist in creating a zero-tolerance culture. Higher Education Institutes play a leading role in forming society and we are proud to be promoting our values and taking actions to model best practice for both current and next generation employees and students.”
Deirdre McCarthy, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at National College of Ireland said: “As well as giving those who have been subjected to sexual harassment or violence a safe place to be heard, the data collected through this tool will be used to inform policy and targeted educational initiatives.”
The foundation of Speak Out
The Consent Framework was published in 2018 by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS), highlighting the need for colleges to take on responsibility for creating safe college communities for all staff, students, and visitors.
In 2021, Speak Out was initially rolled out to 18 HEIs. Speaking at the launch, Minister Simon Harris said: “The creation of this innovative and supportive online platform will provide a safe and anonymous medium for students and staff to report incidents of bullying, assault or sexual violence in a trauma-informed environment.
“Speak Out represents a national approach to tackling these issues by raising awareness, and by providing a means of recording instances, which will assist in achieving a zero-tolerance culture.”
NCI underpinning consent
As a workplace and a place of learning, NCI has a duty of care to both staff and students. This is primarily addressed through Dignity at Work and Student Prevention of Bullying and Harassment Policies.
In 2018, the College recognised the need to specifically address the issue of consent. This work was underway when Minister Simon Harris called on HEIs to publish their Consent Frameworks. NCI then took part in the 2021 national staff and student surveys on sexual violence and harassment, and fed learnings from that into existing work to creating a living document, a responsive policy that can adapt as society’s understanding of consent grows or as the college community grows.
On International Women’s Day 2022, NCI launched its own Consent Framework – Framework for Ending Sexual Violence and Harassment.
Karen Jones, NCI’s Registrar, said: “The college executive and NCI Students' Union are aligned, with ongoing NCISU representation on the Consent Framework Working Group; the SU provides consent education for students, and the College provides education to staff. NCI and NCISU work together to ensure there are trained Designated Contact People available to both staff and students to act as a very approachable first point of contact for anyone in the College who needs to report sexual harassment or violence.
“By making this a living policy, transparent and available to all, and putting a human face on it, through the commitment of colleagues and fellow students in being visibly present for anyone who needs practical support, we are activating the power of consent to end sexual harassment and violence.”
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