“It will hopefully empower students who have had a non-consensual sexual experience to have their voice heard in a way that feels safe for them.”
*Content warning – This article contains references to rape and sexual assault*
A new online platform launched today will allow college students to anonymously report sexual assault, harassment and rape on campus.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, has launched the platform, called ‘Speak Out – the Anonymous Violence and Harassment Reporting Tool.’
Using the platform, students can anonymously report experiences of sexual assault, rape, stalking, coercive behaviour or control, harassment, general assault, discrimination, hate crimes and bullying.
The online system will “use answers given throughout the reporting process to provide a bespoke and tailored list of support services” to those filling out the report so that they can find the support services most relevant to their needs should they wish to avail of them.
Union of Students in Ireland Vice President for Welfare, Somhairle Brennan, described it as “a welcome step forward in continuing to de-stigmatise conversations about consent.”
“It will hopefully empower students who have had a non-consensual sexual experience to have their voice heard in a way that feels safe for them,” he said.
Led by the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI), the project will see 18 colleges and universities partaking, including Trinity College Dublin, University of Limerick, Dublin City University and NUI Galway.
University College Dublin already has its own online reporting system in operation.
Mr Harris said ‘Speak Out’ was an “incredibly important initiative” that would help create a “zero-tolerance culture.”
He said: “The creation of this innovative and supportive online platform will provide a safe and anonymous medium for students and staff to report incidents of bullying, assault or sexual violence in a trauma-informed environment.
“…Speak Out represents a national approach to tackling these issues by raising awareness, and by providing a means of recording instances, which will assist in achieving a zero-tolerance culture.”
Gertie Raftery, Chairperson of the PCHEI and Project Lead, added that the platform gives a “voice for students and staff in higher education to speak out about their experiences of sexual harassment, violence or intimidation of any kind.”