Posted on Tue 17 Jan 2017 at 15:18 by Hope Worsdale
As your SU Education Officer, I am incredibly proud to be part of an organisation which champions the rights of our members and actively campaigns around so many crucial issues for students: from mental health and tuition fees to ‘Prevent’ and fair pay for postgrad teachers.
An issue which is sadly still incredibly relevant in university communities today is that of sexual violence. 1 in 4 women will experience sexual harassment during their time at university, while 1 in 8 will experience a serious sexual assault. This is happening all over the country - including right here at Warwick - and it is the responsibility of all of us as a community to engage with this injustice and strive to make things better.
I believe that education is the most powerful tool at our disposal to shift culture and shape the society that we want to live in. I also believe that students should never be simply considered consumers of education, but rather active collaborators with so much to give when it comes to teaching and learning.
That’s why I’m extremely excited to share with you the details of a groundbreaking project we’ve been working on since the start of the academic year, in collaboration with two academic departments!
Throughout Term 1, we piloted a scheme called the Intervention Initiative with two groups of self-selecting students from the PAIS and Law departments. The Intervention Initiative is an educational programme pioneered by a group of academics at the University of West England, resourced by £2 million of funding from Public Health England. The aim of the course is not only to impart knowledge around issues of consent, sexual assault, domestic abuse and gendered norms, but most importantly to empower participants with the motivation and skills to be proactive bystanders - to intervene to stop violence and abuse, and to shift the social narratives which perpetuate them.
Crucially, this scheme seeks to embed these issues at a curriculum level by viewing them as a key part of education at universities. This is a model which has become the norm on campuses across the USA, and is just beginning to gain traction in the UK. In this sense, Warwick University is at the forefront of a growing trend, thus presenting a hugely exciting opportunity for students.
The feedback we received from those students who participated in the pilot programme that we ran in Term 1 was incredibly positive, showing a clear indication of support for the scheme. In addition to this, we collected really insightful evaluation from participants in terms of how the programme could be developed and strengthened, which will be directly informing its shape in the future. This absolutely cements the notion that students can be and are co-developers of education, and I could not be prouder of the contributions that Warwick students are making to such a crucial issue.
Going forward, we are now in the process of compiling a detailed evaluation report outlining our achievements this year, together with our vision for the future of the project. We are seeking support from a wide range of collaborating parties in the University and hope to expand the programme to many more students next year. This truly is a pivotal moment for Warwick to become a leader in the sector around sexual violence, and students are an integral part of this.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank every single student who participated in the Term 1 pilot for their commitment, passion and innovative ideas (which are truly shaping the future), as well as the academics in Law and PAIS for their support. Big thanks also to SU Welfare Officer Chloe Wynne, our Campaigns Coordinator Sam Parr, and our Student Development Manager Susie Cleverly for all of their work on this initiative - the SU has never taken on a project like this and we are so excited for where things will go from here! Watch this space for more info during the year.