Sexism at university: A third of women students experience unwelcome sexual advances

The President of the NUS has suggested a 'cross-institutional strategy' with UK universities to target sexism on campus

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 15 September 2014 16:55
Onwards march: Students are being asked to focus on employment rather than intellectual developmen
Onwards march: Students are being asked to focus on employment rather than intellectual developmen

An NUS survey has revealed that one in four UK students have experienced unwelcome sexual advances, leading to a call by NUS President Toni Pearce for universities to tackle ‘lad culture’ on UK campuses.

In the survey of 2,156 men and women students, almost one third of respondents said that they endure unwanted sexual comments about their body. Two thirds said they have seen students put up with unwanted sexual comments, while more than a third of women students (37 per cent) said they had faced unwelcome sexual advances.

“These stats show that harassment is rife on campus, but we still we keep hearing from universities that there is no fear, no intimidation, no problem - well this new research says otherwise,” NUS President Toni Pearce said.

With online communities such as ‘Unilad’ and ‘Lad Bible’ consistently accused of normalising misogyny and rape culture, Ms Pearce suggested that what is needed is a “cross-institutional strategy” between the NUS and UK universities to target sexism.

Sites such as Unilad are often accused of normalising misogyny

60 per cent of students who answered the NUS survey said they were not aware of any codes of conduct implemented by their university or students’ unions that prohibit or tackle sexual conversations, sexual comments, unwelcomed sexual advances, group intimidation and verbal harassment.

Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism project is working as the Lad Culture National Strategy Team Ambassador. She said that although many students would not label it as such, a “lack of awareness” over what constitutes sexual assault is “a major part of the problem”.

“Students are experiencing sexism, sexual harassment and assault within the university environment. It is worth mentioning that one category of such experiences, ‘inappropriate touching and groping’ actually constitutes sexual assault under UK law,” she said.

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