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Inclusive responses for difficult times - harassment and hate crime

22 Mar 2020 | Clare Pavitt As universities and colleges focus on reorganising services to respond to the current global health emergency, Principal Adviser for EDI at Advance HE, Clare Pavitt, introduces a series of blogs on what we can do to ensure that the diverse needs of all staff and students in higher education are considered.

Review harassment and hate crime support

Sadly, some people have already experienced hate crime, harassment and hostility linked to perceptions about aspects of their identity and COVID-19. As the pandemic develops this is likely to increase. Higher education institutions can prepare for this by:

  • communicating clearly institutional commitments to ensuring a safe and inclusive environment for all, for example, the University of Exeter 

  • sending clear messages of zero tolerance of harassment to all students and staff
  • working in partnership with students and staff, the police and other stakeholders to understand the current risk/experience of racialised and xenophobic hate on campus and in the local community during the coronavirus, and to take preventative action

  • taking prompt action to deal with any incidents of harassment, including working with the local police service to deal appropriately with hate incidents
  • reviewing and strengthening support for anyone who is, or who feels they may be, the target of harassment and hate crime, including those people who may need to access support remotely due to self-isolation

  • consider how harassment and hate crime policies apply to online environments: UUK updated resources on this last year
  • reviewing arrangements for reporting hate incidents and harassment to ensure they are fit for purpose during the pandemic. Providing strong communications about reporting mechanisms to all students and staff.

As the global health emergency progresses, the challenges that institutions face in meeting the needs of their diverse staff and student communities are likely to become more complex and the responses to those challenges more creative and resourceful.

Advance HE is committed to supporting the sector in these difficult times. Join the conversation on the EDI Practitioners Network on Advance HE Connect

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