News and Views

National video campaign to combat sexual assault on university campuses launched

3 Sep 2021
Picture credit: Clare Keogh

University College Cork’s Bystander Intervention programme will today launch a series of audio-visual learning materials to Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) nationwide to raise awareness around active bystanders and sexual assault.

The materials include a fifteen-minute starter video explaining key concepts on how to be a pro-social bystander, intervening in unsafe situations, what happens when consent falls through, and how students can do their bit to make college campuses and local communities safer for everyone. The launch marked the new Bystander Intervention learning packages being offered to third-level institutions. HEIs are being offered the ability to upload and deliver the training through their own institutional learning platforms.

The project includes student ambassadors from a range of degree programmes as well Professor Louise Crowley, Director of Bystander Intervention in UCC, and Dr Clíonadh O’Keeffe, the Bystander Intervention Support Officer in UCC. The overarching aim of this wide release is to make students more aware of sexual assault and how they can stop it before a situation occurs.

Provides students and staff with the tools necessary to actively effect behavioural change

Programme Director Professor Louise Crowley says:

The value of the Bystander Intervention approach adopted at UCC lies in the breadth of the learning. It provides students and staff with the tools necessary to actively effect behavioural change through safe and effective interventions. College life is challenging, with an escalated social pressure to be accepted by peer groups. In this environment it becomes difficult to speak up as a perceived lone objector to the uncomfortable behaviour of others. In the course of the training, participants are encouraged to recognise their discomfort at sexually offensive language and actions, and through active workshops are empowered to call out what might otherwise be perceived as normalised student conduct, shattering of any false consensus that such language and actions might ever be acceptable.

The impact of the programme to date has been significant. Student feedback demonstrates an immensely positive learning experience, the data demonstrates a shift in understanding and awareness as well as cultivating individual capacity and willingness to effect change, with a chorus of calls for the programme to be rolled out to al in the UCC community. We are delighted to be in a position today to provide a suite of learning opportunities for our colleagues across the Higher Educational Sector, to ensure that all campus communities can undertake the UCC Bystander Intervention training programme.

Speakers at today’s launch include Clare Austick, President, Union of Students in Ireland (USI), Asha Woodhouse, President, UCC Students’ Union, Ross Woods, Senior Manager, Centre of Excellence for Gender Equality at the HEA and the President of UCC, Professor John O’Halloran.

For more information contact

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF