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Last updated: 19 Oct 2020 10:41am

Harassment advisers

The Harassment Adviser scheme provides a first point of contact for students and staff concerned about harassment, bullying and other related inappropriate behaviours.

Harassment Advisers are a group of staff volunteers trained to provide advice and support to students and staff who feel they are being subjected to harassment or bullying, or have themselves been accused of harassment or bullying. Their role is to listen and assist individuals to explore the available options to resolve the issues, no matter how sensitive.

Harassment Advisers are not intended to take the place of professional counsellors. If Counselling is needed, students should make an appointment to seek advice from the Counselling and Mental Health Service, or one of the other support services available to students outlined in the section on City support.

City has a Student Harassment and Bullying Policy and a separate Student Sexual Misconduct Policy, which outline our approaches to supporting students and managing allegations of harassment, bullying and sexual misconduct.

What is Harassment and Bullying?

Harassment: Harassment is defined as unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. Harassment, as defined by the Equality Act 2010, occurs in relation to the age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or belief, or race of an individual.

The University might consider the following behaviours to be examples of harassment. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list and other behaviours may also be considered relevant:

  • Unwanted physical contact, including touching, pinching, pushing, grabbing, brushing past someone, invading their personal space;
  • Continued suggestions for social activity after it had been made clear that such suggestions are unwelcome;
  • Sending or displaying material that could reasonably be considered to be image-based abuse, or that may be considered to be offensive;
  • Offensive or intimidating comments or gestures; insensitive jokes, pranks or ‘banter’; Mocking, mimicking or belittling an individual’s disability;
  • Racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular gender, or ethnic or religious group;
  • Outing or threatening to out someone as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer (LGBTQ), or any other minority gender or sexual identity;
  • Ignoring, shunning or deliberately excluding someone from a conversation or group.

Bullying: Bullying is “offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient (emotionally or physically).” Bullying can take the form of physical and non-verbal conduct, including posting on, and messaging through, social media platforms and other virtual spaces.

The University might consider the following behaviours to be examples of bullying. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list and other behaviours may also be considered relevant:

  • Spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone by word or behaviour;
  • Ridiculing or demeaning someone – picking on them or setting them up to fail;
  • Exclusion or victimisation;
  • Unfair treatment;
  • Overbearing supervision or other misuse of power or position.

Online Bullying and Online Harassment:Online bullying is defined as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient (emotionally or physically) through the use of information and communication technologies.

Online harassment is defined as unwanted conduct through the use of information and communication technologies which has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual.

The University might consider the following behaviours to be examples of online bullying or online harassment. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list and other behaviours may also be considered relevant:

  • Cyber stalking; or repeated and deliberate use of the internet and other electronic communications tools to engage in persistent, unwanted communication intending to frighten, intimidate or harass someone, or to spy on someone;
  • Sending or posting harmful, untrue or cruel statements about a person to other people;
  • Sharing someone else’s personal information without their permission;
  • Purposeful isolation of individuals from online communications with others in a network;
  • Image-based sexual abuse; or online disclosure of sexual or intimate photos or videos, without the consent of the person pictured;
  • Internet pile-on, where large numbers of people are encouraged to target one individual with numerous messages;
  • Pretending to be someone else online;
  • The exchange of online sexual image or videos. This is illegal for under-18s. Where sexual photos of adults are shared online between adults (that is, over 18), without permission of the person/people photographed, this is usually classified as ‘revenge porn’;
  • Engaging in tricks to solicit personal information that is then made public, often to blackmail the individual;
  • Sending or posting deliberately inflammatory, inappropriate or controversial messages or comments on the internet in order to upset and provoke responses from other internet users;
  • Up-skirting; or filming or photographing under a person’s clothes without their consent to capture images of their body or underwear;
  • Virtual mobbing; or where a person tries to attract attention to someone else by getting other people to bully a person, for example by using hashtags to encourage other people to join in.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual Harassment is defined in the Equality Act 2010 as “unwanted conduct of a sexual nature, which has the purpose or effect of violating the recipient’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

The University might consider the following behaviours to be examples of sexual harassment. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list and other behaviours may also be considered relevant:

  • Catcalling or following someone;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour and suggestions that sexual favours may be beneficial to the progression or security of the individual;
  • Making unnecessary and unwanted physical contact, sexual jokes or comments;
  • Giving unwelcome personal gifts;
  • Wolf-whistling, leering, derogatory or unwelcome comments about a person’s body or clothing;
  • Asking unwelcome questions about a person’s sex life and/or sexual orientation;
  • Engaging in unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations and flirtation;
  • Making somebody (directly or indirectly) feel uncomfortable through displaying or sharing material that could be considered to be image-based abuse.

Sexual Misconduct: Sexual Misconduct is a broad term encompassing any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature that is committed without consent or by force, intimidation, coercion, or manipulation. Sexual misconduct can be committed by a person of any gender, and it can occur between people of the same or different genders.

The University might consider the following behaviours to be examples of sexual misconduct. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list and other behaviours may also be considered relevant:

  • Sexual assault, which includes non-consensual sexual intercourse or attempted sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal or oral), any intentional unwanted bodily contact of a sexual nature, or the use of coercion, manipulation or force to make someone else engage in touching of a sexual nature;
  • Sexual harassment, as defined above;
  • Sexual exploitation, which involves taking non-consensual, unjust, or abusive sexual advantage of another person;
  • Sexual intimidation, which includes threatening another person that you will commit a sex act against them, or engaging in indecent exposure.

What can I expect from a Harassment Adviser?

Harassment Advisers are expected to;

  • Listen to students and staff who may be experiencing harassment, to clarify the options open to them
  • Provide a supportive, confidential environment in which to discuss problems
  • Help students and staff understand City’s policies and procedures regarding harassment and bullying
  • Accompany students and staff to any informal meetings they may have with the other people involved (the responding party)
  • Empathise without judgement
  • Deal with cases with the utmost confidentiality except in cases where there is an unacceptable risk to a member of staff, student or to the institution
  • Provide similar support to those accused of harassment or bullying

Harassment Advisers are not expected to;

  • Make judgements or statements confirming that particular behaviour definitely constitutes harassment and will lead to disciplinary action or determine the particular behaviour is not harassment
  • Approach the person that has been accused, in an attempt to mediate or resolve the matter
  • Be involved in any formal stage of the process, be it in writing the formal complaint, the investigation or acting as your representative during the grievance procedures, except by way of giving you informal support during this time
  • Take the place of professional counsellors. If counselling is needed, City’s counselling services offer free and confidential support. Students should contact the Student Counselling and Mental Health Service on the Student Hub.

Who can a Harassment Adviser assist?

Harassment Advisers are here to assist any member of City’s community affected by Harassment, including both students and staff.

How do I contact a Harassment Adviser?

Harassment Advisers can be contacted by emailing harassmentadvisers@city.ac.uk. The Scheme Coordinators for the Harassment Adviser Scheme will then identify an Harassment Adviser who can offer you support and get in touch with you directly.

When emailing to request support from a Harassment Adviser, you should ensure that you include the following information to enable an appropriate Adviser to be appointed:

  • Your name
  • Your City email address
  • A brief summary of the nature of the harassment, bullying or other inappropriate behaviour which you have experienced
  • A brief summary of any actions taken so far by you to resolve this matter
  • An outline of your preferred resolution to this matter, or how you think a Harassment Adviser may be able to help you

In your email, you should also include any requirements you have in relation to which Harassment Adviser you would like to be allocated, for example, a Adviser of a specific gender, role type, or religion. As far as is possible and practicable, the Scheme Coordinators will aim to allocate a Harassment Adviser who meets your requirements, or will notify you if this has not been possible.

Can I speak to a Harassment Adviser based outside of my School/ Department?

We understand that it may be difficult to speak with a Harassment Adviser connected with your School, Department or Programme. We will usually aim to allocate you a Harassment Adviser outside of your School as far as possible. If you would specifically like to speak to an Adviser from within your School, please state this in your email and we will attempt to fulfill this request where possible.

Are conversations with Harassment Advisers confidential?

Discussions held with a Harassment Adviser will be kept confidential within the scheme unless the Adviser believes an individual could present a risk to themselves or others. Any information recorded by Harassment Advisers will be kept in a secure place, for reference for future appointments.

It may be necessary for Harassment Advisers to keep records of cases to ensure they provide effective support and for reference future appointments. It is the responsibility of the Harassment Adviser to ensure that records of cases are held in safe and secure location and where possible not record any personal details. Case records may also kept to measure the quality of the support given.

Maintaining confidentiality is very important, however there are exceptional circumstances in which we may be required to share information without your permission. These are:

  • Where there is good reason to believe you may cause serious harm to yourself or to others, and you are unwilling or unable to take appropriate action yourself;
  • Where there is an issue relating to safeguarding;
  • Where we are required to do so by law
  • Where the member of staff is required to appear in court as part of civil or criminal proceedings, then information may have to be disclosed that is relevant to the case.

Harassment Advisers

Harassment Advisers are City staff who have agreed to volunteer some of their time to support students and staff at City. All Harassment Advisers undertake annual training on sensitivity around harassment, bullying and sexual misconduct, and many have undertaken additional training, for example, in mediation or managing difficult conversations.

Harassment Advisers aim to provide a professional support service to all students at City. If you are not happy with anything in relation to your experience of the Harassment Adviser Scheme, please write to harassmentadvisers@city.ac.uk to share your feedback.

Support Services

There are a range of support services available for all members of the City community, as well as specific services for students and staff.

Internal Support

Chaplaincy

The Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Team offer support to everyone, welcoming students and staff of all faiths, and none.

Disciplinary Regulations

City’s Disciplinary Regulations set out the process by which the University would investigate and address a grievance brought to the University by a student, through the Student Bullying and Harassment Policy as a breach of a Code of Conduct.

Student Counselling Service

The Student Counselling Team offers confidential, emotional support to all current students who may be experiencing personal or academic difficulties.

Students’ Union

City Students’ Union are able to advise students on University regulations and support services available to students at City.

External Support Services

Rape Crisis South London

Rape Crisis South London run the Rape Crisis National Helpline, providing specialist, independent and confidential support for women of all ages who have experienced any form of sexual violence.

Revenge Porn Helpline

The Revenge Porn Helpline is the UK’s only service dedicated to supporting all adults who have had intimate images shared online without their consent. They provide free, non-judgmental and confidential advice and support via email and phone.

Survivors UK

Survivors UK is as a service for male survivors (of sexual violation), to cater for people not provided for by other services, inclusive of anyone who identifies as male, trans, non-binary, has identified as male in the past, or anyone who feels that Survivors UK are the right fit for them.

The Samaritans Helpline

The Samaritans volunteers are available to listen and discuss anything that is troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue may seem.

True Vision

True Vision provides information about hate crime and how to report it.

Victim Support

Victim Support are an independent charity that provide emotional and practical support to individuals recovering from the impact of crime.