University hosting training event to improve students' safety

The University of Hertfordshire De-Havilland Campus. Picture: Herts Uni.

The University of Hertfordshire De-Havilland Campus. Picture: Herts Uni. - Credit: Archant

Steps to improve safety for students at the University of Hertfordshire do not go far enough, it has been claimed.

The Students' Union is hosting a virtual Active Bystander Awareness training event between 10am-1pm on Friday (June 17) for all staff and students.

It aims to overcome fear and paralysis in challenging situations, help people use the right words and expressions when challenging behaviours, and explain how to tackle ‘micro-inequities’, including eye-rolling, sighing, constant interruptions and unconscious bias.

But it is feared the timing and voluntary nature of the course is likely to restrict numbers.

Students from Herts Safe Space, a student-led society that advocates for and supports those affected by sexual harassment and assault on campus said the event was a good step for the university to take in response to their campaigning but did not feel it would attract a high turnout. 

A spokesperson for Herts Safe Space said: “We think it is a good idea and a good starting point for the university, however the timing and the fact that most of us are working and it is not compulsory, will mean that not a lot of people will turn up.” 

Ashleigh Colvin, a journalism student going into her third year, said: “The fact that it is not mandatory makes me think that people who might actually have to see this, won’t, because they don’t have to.  

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“I think it would be far more effective if in addition to this, people who have actually committed sexual harassment, gets reprimanded and educated and used as an example to show how the University will not tolerate it.” 

The website promoting the event says: “Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of the students we represent. Everyone deserves to be able to access their education, socialise and live on campus free from fear of harassment, discrimination and hate crimes. 

“As a commitment to our #NeverOK campaign, we have invested in Active Bystander Awareness training, funded by Police and Crime Commissioner and supported by Safer Spaces.

"This will prepare our Student Leaders to feel comfortable and empowered taking action when they witness harassing and discriminating behaviour.” 

A spokesperson from the Student Union added: “We are running Active Bystander training to support students in feeling confident and empowered to take action if they witness harassing or discriminating behaviour.

"We have invested in this training thanks to the funding awarded to the Safer Streets collaborative project, as we continue our commitment to making campus a safe place for everyone in our community.  

“This training is a rolling programme that will also run throughout the upcoming academic year. It is currently taking place online to maximise participation as we are now outside of term time, but we will look to run sessions both online and face-to-face over the next academic year.

"We know this training has been well-received at other universities, and we would encourage as many students as possible to sign up to sessions over the coming year.” 

Tickets can be purchased on a first-come-first-served basis from