Breaking the Silence: Cambridge speaks out against sexual misconduct

Breaking the Silence: Cambridge speaks out against sexual misconduct

Cambridge prides itself on being a leader, academically, in terms of research, education. It has to be a social leader as well, tackling tough problems that are difficult for all institutions like sexual harassment. The community that we want at Cambridge is one that’s inclusive and which is built on a foundation of mutual respect. So, to achieve that, we need everybody in the community to be behind this exercise in breaking the silence. University should be one of the spaces where you feel like you can open yourself up to new experiences and I think the one thing that a culture that condones sexual misconduct does is shut people down and make them isolated and vulnerable. It’s not the experience itself that’s important, whether it’s a joke or a comment or something shared online, it’s the impact it has on other people that’s important. And we don’t always know how other people have responded to something or how it’s affected them. No matter how brilliant you are – and Cambridge Colleges are full of brilliant people – nobody has the right to act in such a way that the person who’s on the receiving end of that act or comment or behaviour feels unsafe. If we don’t tackle sexual harassment we’re going to lose out. People won’t be doing their best here, some people may leave. So those aspirations to be excellent will be undermined. I think if any student or a member of staff has been affected by sexual misconduct of any kind, it’s vital that they have confidence to come forward, to realise that what they say will be taken seriously. Wherever there is an increase in reporting that’s always a very positive sign. It is not a sign that there is an increase in sexual harassment or assaults. It is indicative of an increase in victims’ and survivors’ confidence in the systems and processes around them to protect them and provide them with support. If people are thinking about coming forward to talk about their experiences at the counselling service we listen to people and we believe them. And we’re happy to talk through people’s experiences in a safe space and then talk about the options that are available as well. Our service is completely confidential, so we encourage people to come forward and speak to us if they can. A lot of people think that there’s nothing that they can do because sexual misconduct happens on such a grand scale but one of the best ways to challenge anything is to start small, and to start in the spaces that you are.

2 Replies to “Breaking the Silence: Cambridge speaks out against sexual misconduct

  1. 52% really?!? I call bull. I highly doubt that one out of every two women have been sexually harassed. What kind of crazy surveys are you people giving? I am all for stopping sexual assaults, but giving out hyperbolic statistics will not help this conversation move forward.

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