As a first of its kind, sexual experience survey is launched at QUBSU, Bradley Allsop and Amy Chambers explain what S.C.O.R.E is and who it’s designed to help.
The lack of knowledge in Northern Ireland around sexual consent is disturbing. The region has only been included in one piece of research, which looked at sexual violence against women, with NI students only accounting for 0.2% of the responses. This research, carried out in 2010, found that one in seven survey respondents had experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student. 16% have experienced unwanted kissing, touching or molesting during their time as a student, the majority of which has taken place in public. The most common reason for not reporting serious sexual assault was that the victim felt ashamed or embarrassed; 43 per cent also thought they would be blamed for what had happened, and one in three thought they would not be believed.
A group of Queen’s students have decided to change this and founded the S.C.O.R.E. (Student Consent Research) Collaboration. Working closely with the QUB Student’s Union, they are now rolling out the Stand Together Survey – a survey to measure the level of non-consensual sexual experiences on and off campus, and the first of its kind to focus specifically on Northern Irish students. The S.C.O.R.E collaboration is more than just a research group, however: their aim is to make Queens University Belfast safer by supporting survivors of sexual violence and improving understanding of consent. The project is keen to address the lack of data concerning men suffering sexual harassment and abuse as well, with many surveys in the past not reflecting the problems men and the LGBT+ community face too. The Stand Together Survey will be anonymous and the information gathered will be used to create change within the university to help support students and make QUB a safer place.
S.C.O.R.E Collaboration is run by a committee of 5 students and 1 SU welfare officer. They have been working alongside internal and external advisory boards and has been 18 months in the making. There is an external advisory board including representatives from Nexus NI, Woman’s Aid, The Rainbow Project, The Rowan, Hollaback, The Public Health Agency, FPA, Brook and ONUS, and an internal advisory board made up of QUB staff (Lecturers, student guidance centre). They achieved ethical approval through the Queen’s School of Sociology. The diverse range of backgrounds reflected in those involved highlights the fact that this is an academic as well as a welfare issue, with many students leaving or suffering a drop in grades after a non-consensual sexual experience.
The survey is only open to QUB students, and it is hoped that through raising awareness within QUB about consent and sexual violence it will have a positive effect on those living in the Queen’s area and will also encourage other local universities to follow suit.
If you are a QUB student we’d encourage you to fill out the survey, whether you’ve had an experience like those described above or not: all answers will be private and confidential, and it will be used to ensure that QUB is a safe environment for everyone. If you’re not a Queen’s student but feel that this is something that your university or place of work should be taking action on, then contact the group on their Facebook or Twitter page (@ScoreQUB)
If you have been affected by any of these issues and would like to talk to someone, please do not hesitate to call:
Nexus NI: 02890326803
Women’s Aid: 0808200024724
The Rowan: 08003894424
By Bradley Allsop and Amy Chambers