New UCD service for staff and students disclosing bullying or sexual harassment is opened

Posted 9 May, 2022

A new service for staff and students seeking to disclose bullying or sexual harassment has opened at University College Dublin, the first of its kind in the Irish Higher Education sector.

UCD employees and students who disclose issues of bullying, harassment or sexual misconduct, and those who are reported for such issues, now have access to a team of advisers through the UCD Dignity and Respect Support Service that are experienced and trained to support, respond and advise them.

“While issues of bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct are national issues impacting all of society, UCD seeks to be a leader in creating a community where all members are aware of the impact of such behaviour, the supports available and know that bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct will not be tolerated at any level,” said Professor Mark Rogers, UCD Acting President.

As part of the UCD Dignity and Respect Support Service, different advisers will support those involved in complaints of inappropriate behaviour to avoid a conflict of interest.

If an individual decides to make a formal complaint, members of the team will assist and will provide support throughout the formal complaint process, which may include accompanying individuals to investigation meetings and the provision of aftercare support following any informal or formal interventions.

Professor Rogers added: “I’d like to publicly thank the members of the Report Group chaired by Rory Carey, the members of the Oversight Group chaired by Professor Aoife Ahern, and acknowledge the input of many across the University, including the Students Union in helping develop our new policies, procedures and supports.”

“This is a huge step forward,” said Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris TD, officially opening the UCD Dignity and Respect Support Service.

“I know what a service like this means to students and staff. I’ve travelled across the country, visiting colleges and universities, where I meet with student reps who tell me of the impact on students who have a distressing or harmful experience.

“The Higher Education sector must continue to lead the way on changes in institutional mind-set, championing the changes required to achieve a cultural norm where bullying and sexual harassment are not tolerated.”

Minister Harris added: “UCD has taken a strong lead in ensuring that Higher Education Institutions are places that promote a zero-tolerance approach to bullying and harassment and sexual harassment and sexual misconduct.

“How we treat each other matters, particularly in third level institutions as a melting pot of learning and transition for young people, as they may move out of home or develop their own way in life.

“Treating people with respect and dignity must become ‘a given’. It must become the norm across our campuses and institutions, for students and staff.

“Our higher education institutions have a duty of care to their students and staff. We all have a responsibility to foster a campus culture that is clear in the condemnation of unwanted and unacceptable behaviours. These act as barriers to their safety and their active participation in college life, and this cannot continue.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations