Uni guide against sexual violence will 'help save lives'

25 April 2018, 15:24 | Updated: 25 April 2018, 15:31

aberdeen student emily drouet

New guidance to tackle gender-based violence at universities and colleges can help save lives, campaigners have said.

The newly-published guide is based on the principles set out in the #emilytest campaign founded by Fiona Drouet after her daughter Emily took her own life following an abusive relationship at university.

The Equally Safe in Higher Education Toolkit recommends guidance and training for staff, well-publicised places to report concerns, and creating a code of conduct with disciplinary procedures and sanctions for perpetrators.

It also recommends setting up secure data collection to record instances of gender-based violence and research to reveal the extent of the problem.

The Scottish Government is providing £396,000 for the roll-out and implementation of the guide, which was developed at Strathclyde University with assistance from organisations including Police Scotland, NUS Scotland and Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis Centre, and will be adapted for colleges.

Ms Drouet said the launch was a "significant turning point" on gender-based violence on campus.

She said: "This is Emily's legacy and I hope both staff and students will feel empowered by this resource.

"Institutions now have the help they need to pass the #emilytest and I believe that had this been in place while our daughter was at university it could have saved her life.

"We couldn't help Emily but the #emilytest can save others - a legacy Emily would be proud of."

Aberdeen University Law student Emily Drouet, 18, was found dead in her room in March 2016.

Former boyfriend Angus Milligan was later convicted of physically and verbally abusing her and was subsequently expelled from the university.

Further and Higher Education Minister Shirley-Anne Somerville said: "Universities and colleges have a duty to foster a culture on campus that is clear in its condemnation of gender-based violence and gives staff and students the confidence to report unacceptable behaviour.

"That is why I have made the adoption of the policies and procedures outlined in this toolkit a key feature of my Letter of Guidance to the sector this year.

"I know universities and colleges are up for the challenge and I am keen to see this commitment translate into real, demonstrable action and change for women living, working and researching on campus."