Posted on 19 November 2021
Research by CRESJ's Dr Anna Bull into sexual harassment in higher education has featured in a number of news outlets in light of Al Jazeera's Degrees of Abuse investigation which found that universities were failing to adequately deal with complaints of staff sexual harassment. Dr Bull describes her current research with Erin Shannon to examine the complaints process for sexual harassment in universities in an article for Al Jazeera: Will academia ever have its #MeToo moment? She argues that not enough has been done by universities to address the issue of staff sexual harassment of students and other staff members and calls for greater protection for those reporting sexual violence. She also advocates for more proactive work by universities to identify problems within departments, and more decisive action when a complaint is upheld.
As co-director of The 1752 Group, which aims to end staff sexual misconduct in higher education, Dr Bull was also a driving force behind an open letter to the sector urging a review of guidance around complaints of sexual harassment in HE, as reported in Research Professional (Research Professional - Academics demand better sexual harassment complaints process), University Business (Campaign group calls for action on sexual harassment reporting - University Business) and Times Higher Education (Call to overhaul harassment complaints after ‘Degrees of Abuse’ | Times Higher Education (THE)). The letter, which was signed by over 180 academics and student survivors of sexual misconduct, asks universities to adopt new guidance for handling cases with multiple complainants in order to prevent staff who have previously committed sexual offences from going on to target further victims.
Dr Bull was also quoted in an article in Times Higher Education about a spate of needle spikings of students in the UK: Student spikings: universities told to step up prevention efforts | Times Higher Education (THE). She argues in the article that universities need to focus more on prevention of sexual harassment and violence, and that a lack of clarity about universtities' roles in relation to off-campus incidents was hampering progress.