We Need To Do Something About Stalking & Harassment At Uni 

51% of students accused of stalking are allowed to stay in uni and we’re over it.

This week it was announced that a former University of Southampton student was found guilty of stalking his old lecturer for 3 whole years. Going as far as to print out photos of her 6-year-old son, book a registry office for their wedding and refer to himself as her husband—this is the shocking reality and fear that many women have to live with every day.

Have you ever had to block someone to get them to stop contacting you?

159 votes | Ends: No Expiry

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident, as 381 students from UK universities were accused of stalking and harassment between 2015-2018 with 51% of the accused students allowed to continue their studies with little repercussions.

Stalking and harassment can go much further than just a bit of unwanted attention as just last year a Durham student was jailed after messaging the victim on FOURTY FOUR different phone numbers, turning up at her lectures and sending her unwanted gifts. So, it’s not as easy as just blocking the number or ignoring messages, if stalkers want to contact you they will find a way to continue the harassment.

Stalking can’t be reduced down to gender either, anyone can be a victim of stalking and harassment, but research shows that women, LGBTQIA+ and disabled students are the most likely to be targeted.

Research has also shown that in most cases the perpetrators of stalking, sexual assault and physical violence will be someone who is known to the victim, which poses the question of just what are we supposed to do to protect ourselves? Smile less at strangers? Refuse to talk to other students during group projects? Never go on a first date again? Nope, when it comes to stalkers and sexual violence, it doesn’t matter how nice you are (or aren’t)—it most likely won’t reduce your chances of being a victim.

What counts as stalking or harassment?

The four main characteristics of stalking are:

  • Fixated
  • Obsessive
  • Unwanted
  • Repeated

Stalking or harassment can include:

  • Regularly following someone or going to their house uninvited
  • Checking someone’s internet use, text messages or emails
  • Hanging around where you know someone will be or following their location
  • Interfering with someone’s property
  • Watching or spying on someone
  • Threatening to reveal private information or photographs
  • Unwanted or abusive communication via text messages, phone calls, letters or online accounts
  • Creating fake accounts to message someone
  • Sending unwanted gifts
  • Unwanted sexual comments, jokes and gestures
  • Sharing unwanted explicit images or videos
  • Attempting to damage someone’s reputation by spreading false information

If the behaviour has happened more than once it counts as harassment. You can find out more here.

So, what are unis doing about this?

Well, it turns out not a lot.

The Equality Act from 2010 does state that universities need to have fair policies and practices around sexual harassment and assault, however, this doesn’t mean that cases are taken seriously or those accused are appropriately punished.

This also isn’t helped by student accommodation areas rarely having CCTV due to privacy issues and concerns, which can make it harder to prove claims of stalking or harassment.

Stalking can be incredibly distressing and traumatising to victims, leaving them scared to leave the house out of fear. Universities dismissing this and allowing stalkers to continue studying and be in the same social spaces as their victims is helping absolutely no one.

If you or a friend have reported stalking, harassment or sexual violence to your uni what was the outcome?

29 votes | Ends: No Expiry

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

However, just because universities aren’t taking this seriously, it doesn’t mean that stalking isn’t a serious crime and as proven it can face a jail sentence if the perpetrator is correctly persecuted.

No matter how big or small the issue may seem, stalking and harassment is a crime and if your uni isn’t going to do anything about it you definitely can, by continually reporting the issue to the police and speaking out to raise awareness online.

All we can say is we’ve had enough of student’s voices being ignored and the issue not being taken seriously enough until it’s way too late. We hope by talking about the issue we can raise awareness of the reality that many students are facing and that we take it seriously. Help is available, even if your university is not willing to see the seriousness of the situation.

Actions you can take if you or someone you know is being stalked:

  • Report the incident to the police as soon as possible
  • Contact your university to open an investigation
  • Keep any evidence such as text messages, screenshots of fake accounts and unwanted gifts
  • Spread the word around with your friends to warn them about the perpetrator
  • If you’re not the victim you can report the incident anonymously on the Crimestoppers website
  • Check out the National Stalking Helpline website for helpful information about stalking and how to report it safely if you are concerned for yourself or for someone else