The Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest (TUS ) has launched its anonymous violence and harassment reporting tool entitled ‘Speak Out’.
‘Speak Out’ is an online, anonymous reporting platform for incidents of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, discrimination, hate crime, coercive behaviour/control, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.
The newly launched tool is part of a national approach to tackling these issues by raising awareness, providing support and providing a means of recording instances.
“Speak Out will allow us, as TUS, to understand staff and student experiences of harassment and violence. It will be crucial in assisting us in making evidence-based policy decisions in this very important area. A key role of Speak Out is to help raise awareness of supports available to students and staff, and to encourage them to seek help if needed. It is a further step in delivering on our commitments within the Framework for Consent in Higher Education Institutions and to providing a safe, respectful and supportive culture across all our campuses,” President of TUS, Professor Vincent Cunnane, launching ‘Speak Out’ across all six TUS campuses, said.
Treasa Fox, Head of Student Counselling at TUS Midlands, stated that the ‘Speak Out’ launch marked a culture shift on TUS campuses.
“From today, students and staff can make an anonymous report of any experiences of bullying, cyberbullying, sexual harassment, assault, or rape in a safe way. We, in student counselling services, have long recognised that an important first step in healing from trauma is to say what has happened to you in a safe way,” Ms Fox remarked.
“This tool provides an anonymous trauma informed platform for survivors to report incidents of harassment, sexual violence, bullying and coercive behaviour. It is the starting point as initially many are hesitant to formerly report an incident. This tool removes that barrier by virtue of its anonymity and encourages both students and staff to speak out and have their experience validated,” Noreen Keane, Head of Student Counselling at TUS Midwest, added.
President of TUS Students’ Union Áine Daly, noted that the platform was one which students can trust.
“This is a platform that students can trust, that gives them the opportunity to have their voices heard anonymously and seek the support they need. It will also contribute to making our tomorrow better with data collection for statistics, with the hope in the future these tools won’t have to exist, and that we can be kind and respectful of one another,” Ms Daly commented.
The Speak Out project, led by the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI ) and funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, is being rolled out across 18 higher education institutions throughout this academic year.
The online tool is now live for all six TUS campuses through the website tus.ie and the staff and student portals.
‘Speak Out’ is a trauma informed tool which will provide users with support services relevant to their experience. The anonymous data collected through this tool will also be used to inform national policy and targeted educational initiatives.
This project has been funded by the HEA Centre of Excellence for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion, and underpins an ethos of cross institutional collaboration in response to such incidences within higher education institutions.