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Written by:
Trinity Hall
20 Jul 2022

Improvements in the ways students can find support and understand reporting options for incidents of sexual harassment and assault are key recommendations made in a new College report.

An independent external inquiry led by Gemma White QC into allegations highlighted in an online news story recommended that the College undertake a cultural survey to provide an evidence-base for any changes to College practice.

Developed by a Working Group set up for the purpose, the Report from that survey makes several recommendations.

These include clearly presenting options for support and reporting which should be available in multiple places; recommending the provision of a wellbeing contact for students outside the Fellowship; and recommending the expansion of training provision.

The Working Group also noted its support for the College’s commitment to encourage referrals relating to sexual assault or harassment to the central University’s Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals (OSSCA).

The Working Group included students, alumni, operational staff, and Fellows.

Lorna Bolton a barrister and former student at Trinity Hall, was a member of the working group that produced the report. She said: “I have been a prosecutor, both nationally and internationally, for 25 years and have prosecuted hundreds of cases involving sexual crimes. I was interested in working with the committee as I knew we would be making recommendations on issues that matter to me – that is, trying to reduce the incidence of sexual harassment and assault, encouraging reporting, and improving the process for investigating and adjudicating these kinds of complaints.

“I thought my experience might be of assistance to the committee. Obviously, our recommendations are just a starting point. The intention is that they will spark ongoing discussion within the College and that efforts will be made to measure the impact of the various initiatives currently being undertaken on both the prevalence of sexual assault/ harassment and the quality of the College’s response to incidents when they occur.”

Run between August and September 2021, more than 240 students, operational staff, Fellows and alumni completed the survey.

The survey indicated that incidents of sexual harassment and assault remain under-reported, whether to the University or to the College, and also identified barriers to reporting.

Work has been ongoing to present support and reporting information clearly to students. New College website pages have been developed to signpost students, operational staff and Fellows to support and reporting options more effectively.

A new Head of Wellbeing has been appointed, beginning in September, to work with the College’s health and wellbeing teams and supplement support offered by the University. The Head of Wellbeing will have responsibility for proactively supporting wellbeing throughout the College and will also provide a key point of contact outside the Fellowship to whom students can report concerns.

New protocols governing the facilitation of College supervisions have been developed ahead of the academic year 2022-3, providing greater transparency for students and supervisors alike.

The Working Group’s Report has been presented to the College’s Governing Body and to student representatives.