The University of Glasgow has changed its student code of conduct to include sexual violence and harassment as prohibited behaviour.
Previously, the list of student conduct offences stated that “behaviour of a disorderly, threatening, offensive, indecent or violent nature” was forbidden but failed to explicitly refer to acts of a sexual nature.
A spokesperson from the university said: “We have an absolute commitment to ensuring that the student experience at Glasgow is the best and safest that it can be.
“As part of this we are working closely with student bodies to make clear that sexual violence and inappropriate sexual behaviour and the use of abusive or threatening language has no place at the University of Glasgow.”
The university stressed that, even prior to the change, sexual offences would have been punished in practice.
This addition means that students who have been accused of breaching the code will go through a formal disciplinary procedure.
The amendment to the code has been praised by campaigners, such as the organisation SAFER, which works to empower students to lead their own movements to combat against instances of sexual violence on campuses.
Hayden Golden, communications coordinator of the group, said: “The University of Glasgow is taking a notable step toward dealing with a serious problem – one that harms people and makes the community unsafe.”
Mr Golden said the recognition of this problem by the university would be of benefit to the wider local community and will hopefully influence other educational institutions to do the same.
He said: “Evidence shows that universities rarely want to admit that sexual and gender violence happens on their campus.
“If a community and a university both recognise that sexual and gender violence are a problem, then they can work cooperatively to address it.”
The formal inclusion of this stipulation has been welcomed by students too.
Former Student Representative Council president Breffni O’Connor said the change would “create an environment where sexual violence is reported with confidence” by victims.
The university’s actions have come at the right time considering the high number of recent cases involving assaults on female students on university campuses, especially in the United States.
Photo: Alving Leong, Flickr Creative Commons