News & Media

Campus culture needs overhaul

28 June 2021

Statement by Senator Annie Hoey
Spokesperson on Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science

Welcoming the Minister’s proposals to tackle sexual violence and harassment in higher education, Labour spokesperson Annie Hoey said that this is a great opportunity to overhaul the culture on campuses, where safety is not always guaranteed.

Senator Hoey said:

“This is a really welcome step in the right direction. However, there is no point in throwing money at the problem unless there is also a tangible commitment from all higher education authorities to tackle more fundamental cultural issues.

“Too often when people are harassed, they feel they do not have the power or the support to report it, and even some who do report it are given inadequate support to work through it. There are students, and staff, across the country who have to share campuses with people who have harassed them, assaulted them, and continue to cause them great distress. We need to make consent training the norm in all places of education. However, the first conversation students have about healthy relationships and consent should not be at third level. We need to get talking about this issue at a much early stage in formal education.

“In addition to talking about consent, we also need to find ways to support victims through these situations when they do arise. This will require funding for dedicated training of campus staff in how to deal with reports of sexual harassment and assault.

“This is not an issue that is exclusive to higher education - it happens across Irish society that victims do not feel safe or empowered to report, and perpetrators trade off that silence and experience little to no consequences for their actions."