#UnmuteConsent, a campaign against sexual violence and harassment, has been rolled out across all Higher Education campuses.
Sexual violence and harassment are significant issues that largely go unreported.
This campaign aims to target students to increase their knowledge and awareness of consent and encourage them to challenge and change behaviours.
The #UnmuteConsent campaign was launched on 2 October and is part of the measures within the National Consent Framework for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
Speaking on the new campaign, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris TD said:
“Sexual harassment or sexual violence doesn’t start or end in third-level education, but education is the greatest tool to dismantling this culture that has crept into our society. We all have a role to play to ensure that we create a culture of zero tolerance, which will contribute to a change in attitudes and increased awareness.
“There is a particular responsibility on those charged with educating the next generation in ensuring that students and learners are equipped to lead the change across society.”
Specific targets of the campaign are to make students more comfortable in speaking out and reporting unacceptable behaviour and accessing support and practicing consent in their relationships and interactions.
The campaign was informed by findings from the National Survey of Student Experiences of Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish HEIs (2021), and the Active* Consent Sexual Experiences Survey (2020).
In 2021, 7,900 students completed the National Survey of Student Experiences of Sexual Violence and Harassment in Irish HEI which reported that 72% of female students had experienced offensive sexist remarks.
Other statistics from the survey reported that a majority of students agreed that they felt safe from SVH at their accommodation and around the campus, but at the same time approximately four in ten of the students agreed that sexual violence and harassment were a problem at their higher education institution.
The National Consent Framework also lays out other measures for HEIs, which include enhancement of support services available to those who have experiences sexual violence and harassment and extensive roll out of consent education and bystander intervention training programmes.
Speaking on the launch of #UnmuteConsent campaign Dr Marie Connolly, Chair of the IUA Vice Presidents of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Group, said:
“Following the remarkable reach of the #UnmuteConsent campaign in 2022 we are delighted that IUA is in a position to lead this campaign again this year. Sexual Violence and Harassment is a problem on third level campuses and across all strands of society in Ireland.
“Our ambition is for a safe and respectful third level experience for staff and students and we know that a culture of speaking about consent can help transform how we as a society respond to unacceptable behaviour. We are determined to continue our efforts to end SVH on campus and have designed this campaign to promote an understanding of consent; student understanding and skills for speaking up and calling out unacceptable behaviour”.
The HEA’s head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Sheena Duffy said, “We are delighted to support the third iteration of the #unmuteconsent campaign, which is an important element of the work ongoing across the higher education sector to address sexual violence and harassment.
“The campaign will make a significant contribution towards a campus culture in which every member of the HEI community feels safe, respected, and supported, and in which sexual violence and harassment will not be tolerated. It also plays a vital role in signposting the crucial support services available to those who may need them.”