At least nine students have been harassed in Trinity between 2012 and 2015, according to a nationwide study by the Irish Times. Most of those who were harassed were female, with those harassing were largely male.
Between 2012 and 2016, there were 29 cases of bullying and harassment in the University of Limerick (UL), with 35 men being accused versus 9 women. 23 complaints were made by women in those cases with six made by men. Between 2011 and 2014 in University College Dublin (UCD), 10 students faced preliminary hearings for discipline, all being males.
In 2014, a UCD student was caught trespassing on campus and was involved in an “altercation with a security guard”. The student was fined more than €1,000. Another student was accused of “obstruction or harassment, including bullying”, of another student.
Speaking to Trinity News about harassment in College, the Students’ Union Welfare Officer, Damien McClean, said that “whenever these cases happen, we want to know how did this happened” and “try to see if there is a trend”. With harassment cases, McClean said that “all that matters, is that the student gets the support they need”.
In 2015, a survey conducted by the students’ union, found that 25% of female Trinity students and 5% of male students have had unwanted sexual experiences. While studying in Trinity, just under one third of women, at 31% surveyed, had experienced unwanted physical contact while in Trinity or in a Trinity social setting. In 2015, only 31% of students had heard of consent campaigns in College.
The UCD College Tribune newspaper reported that there were 5 cases of sexual assault in University College Dublin (UCD) between 2014 and 2016, with 11 instances of harassment in UCD from 2014 to 2017. A ‘Walk Safe’ service began in 2016, to escort students across campus during the night. However, this service was only used 20 times during a 10 month period, and was only publically advertised following a case of rape on UCD campus in November 2016. In December 2016, it was requested 37 times.
All universities have a discipline policy, with Trinity’s being called “Dignity and Respect”. The aim of the policy is to prevent bullying and harassment, support good relationships between members of college, provide methods of resolution in cases where bullying and harassment does occur, and to make it everyone’s responsibility to be aware of the policy in College.
The policy is to be read by every student by the first week of term and is underpinned by equality legislation such as the Health and Safety Act 2005, and the Disability Act 2005. The policy is reviewed annually to ensure its implementation and efficiency by the Equality Committee. In case of disputes, College supports mediation by an impartial and experienced appointed mediator. McClean said that in cases of harassment, there are different routes to take depending on “what you are comfortable with”. “If they want to report it, that goes through the Junior Dean. Some students come in to me […] they don’t want to go through that route; They don’t want to bring it to that level. That is more wellbeing route, a counselling route. It’s not one or the other.”
The SU have continued to run the consent workshops in Halls that were started in 2016. There was a 90% attendance rate for the workshops during its pilot year, and they have continued this academic year. Workshops are administered by a student volunteer and a counsellor from the Counselling Service . This year, the SU uis using the acronym FRIES: Freely given, retractable, informed, enthusiastic and specific. A 2013 nationwide Union of Students’ in Ireland survey found that 1 in 8 third level students have had unwanted sexual encounters during their education.