The University of Strathclyde has become the first higher education institution to sign a pledge undertaking that non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) will never be used in cases of sexual misconduct.
The Let’s Disclose It pledge has been developed by Strathclyde’s students’ association, StrathUnion, in consultation with the University to support the sector’s efforts to prevent sexual harassment and violence, improve support for survivors, and bring greater transparency to reporting of incidences.
All Scottish universities will be invited to join Strathclyde as signatories of the pledge. Universities which sign up will agree:
- never to use NDAs in cases of sexual violence or sexual harassment involving staff or students
- to be as transparent as possible in reporting such cases
- to engage in eliminating barriers to reporting for survivors and ensuring appropriate support is in place to undertake to respond to and support students and staff in relation to such cases.
The signing of the pledge forms the latest part of Strathclyde’s Safe360° programme, which encompasses personal safety in every area of university life, from the digital world to the physical campus.
Its measures include: hosting Scotland’s first on-campus Rape Crisis centre for students who have been affected by sexual violence at any time in their lives; the roll-out of the Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit for universities and colleges; participation in the EmilyTest Charter pilot project, and bystander and First Responder training offered to the University community.
Dr Veena O’Halloran, University of Strathclyde Secretary and Compliance Officer, said: “Sexual harassment and gender-based violence are completely unacceptable in any area of society. Our University community is committed to working together to ensure a supportive environment where everyone is treated equally and with respect.
“In signing the Let’s Disclose It pledge, we are formalising our commitment to never using non-disclosure agreements in incidences of inappropriate behaviour, now and in the future, and affirming our dedication to helping to eradicate sexual and gender-based violence.”
Rachel Cairns, a Strathclyde student and StrathUnion’s former Vice-President Inclusion, said: “Our goal is to encourage safe pathways to disclosure following gender-based and sexual violence, and we were inspired to develop the Let’s Disclose It Pledge.
“We’re asking universities to get involved, and with the support of institutions and students across the country, we can ensure safer campuses for all.”