Policy Brief and Purpose
The Aston Students’ Union Reporting Sexual Harassment or Sexual Misconduct policy aims to safeguard all students from unwanted sexual advances and provide them with guidelines to report incidents.
It also explains how we support survivors through this difficult time.
We will not accept or tolerate sexual harassment or misconduct within our Students’ Union or at any of our events.
Sexual Harrassment Definition:
Anybody can be a victim of sexual harassment, regardless of their sex or gender identity and that of the offending party.
Sexual harassment is any unwanted and unwelcome behaviour or actions of a sexual nature. It can be physical, verbal, or non-verbal and can involve one or more incidents including but not limited to:
- Commenting on someone's appearance, sexual orientation, or gender in a derogatory or objectifying way, or in a way that makes them uncomfortable.
- Flirting with someone or pursuing them persistently against their will.
- Using obscene comments, gestures, pranks, and jokes that degrade or offend somebody.
- Sending or displaying sexually explicit objects or messages.
- Invading someone's personal space, for example by touching them inappropriately.
- Threatening, coercing, stalking, or intimidating somebody to pressure them to engage in sexual acts.
- Proposing, demanding, or insinuating sexual favours.
- Sexual assault including rape.
Getting Help and Support:
You do not have to tell us what has happened, but we can give you options to allow you to move forward, this might be further reporting or places of support.
Harassment can be reported via our student advisors in the Students’ Union Advice Centre. Email: Advice@aston.ac.uk
We want to make the process as easy as possible, and ideally, we want you to only tell us about your experiences once. This can occur on a Microsoft team’s meeting, or in person. We encourage you to bring a friend along as well. You may wish to write down your experiences. You may want to share your story with a female or male advisor – that’s no problem.
Step One: Giving you a voice
The Student's Union will:
- Understand the outcomes desired by the student and advise where to get relevant support
- Record the dates, times, and circumstances of the incident should you wish to share this. (this could be used in future reports, so please be as thorough as you can)
Step Two: Giving you choices
The Student's Union will:
- 1. Empower survivors to make their own choices about how they would like to go forward.
- 2. Explore and signpost to the correct supporting services, such as:
- a) Rape and Sexual Violence Project in Birmingham Rape & Sexual Violence Project (rsvporg.co.uk) who provide quick and easy to access counselling and bespoke advice
- b) University Counselling Service Aston University Counselling and Mental Wellbeing Service
- c) Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) Contact - Horizon (horizonsarc.org.uk)
- 3. Explore and signpost to relevant reporting bodies, such as
- a) The University. (This will usually be via their Report and Support web site that is due to ‘go live’ in October 2021)
- b) The Police Sexual Assault | Your Options | West Midlands Police (west-midlands.police.uk)
It is the student’s choice as to what action to take next and whether to report the incident to the University and/or Police. The Students’ Union can support students through these processes
The Students’ Union does not offer a counselling service, but we can listen, advise, and refer you to other organisations who can help.
Step Three: Possible investigation
If the incident is investigated by either the University or Police, the investigation will follow their relevant procedures.
Often students are reluctant to ‘tell the University’ or report it to the police and instead prefer the Students’ Union to take action.
Aston Students Union only investigates incidents where one of the parties holds a position of responsibility in the students’ union e.g. for example an elected representative or active member of a club or society or has taken place within the Students’ Union building or at one of our events.
It is beyond our power as the Students’ Union to investigate what is a criminal matter. We will only investigate matters that relate to our own byelaws and code of conduct. The process by which such a complaint is investigated can be found here (ASU-Investigation-and-Disciplinary-Procedure-for-Sexual-Harassment-and-Misconduct)
Step Four: Future outcomes
These issues are complex, challenging and incredibly difficult to deal with for everyone involved and you are unlikely to see a quick resolution. But by coming and speaking to the Students’ Union you are making the right choice and will soon discover you are not alone in your experiences; there are a number of people and organisations who exist to support you at this difficult time.
Want to know more or to arrange an appointment? Email: Advice@aston.ac.uk