Vernal Scott is Head of the University’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Unit, and joined Oxford at the start of this academic year. To mark Anti-Bullying Awareness Week, Vernal outlines the harassment support available across the University, including a network of dedicated harassment advisors.
Anti-Bullying Awareness Week takes place in November each year. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness of the impact of all forms of bullying and harassment, share sources of support with those affected and ways to report it.
Here at Oxford, we are committed to supporting all students to thrive in an environment of equity, dignity and respect. No form of bullying or harassment is acceptable. We encourage anyone who has experienced bullying or harassment to seek support and advice. Talking to someone is an important first step, but sharing your experience can be difficult and daunting.
“I know from my own experiences that it can be difficult to navigate complex policies and procedures when going through something emotionally difficult, and it can be incredibly helpful to have someone somewhat external to the process whose role is to support you and your choices.” Sarah Milne Das, Harassment Advisor at Nuffield College.
Support is available across the University, including from your college, department, college welfare contacts, peer supporters, tutors, supervisors and directors of graduate studies, as well as from one of the Harassment Advisors. You can read the experience of one of our advisors, Sarah, on the Equality and Diversity Unit website.
Our network of nearly 450 Harassment Advisors across the collegiate University is here to offer advice and support to students experiencing bullying and harassment in a safe, compassionate and confidential way.
Clarity on hate incidences and support available
Unfortunately, some members of our community have been experiencing antisemitism and Islamophobia as a result of the appalling conflict in Gaza and Israel. Whether this is happening within our community or more widely within the city, this is deeply concerning. Incidents motivated by hate have a devastating impact on an individual, and impact where they feel safe and their sense of belonging in Oxford and the University. There is no place for antisemitism, Islamophobia or hate for any faith at Oxford and we encourage anyone experiencing a hate incident of any kind to seek support.
What are hate incidents?
Hate incidents are any criminal offence or incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's actual or perceived disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. This could include physical attacks, such as assault, damage to property, or the threat of attack, such as inciting hatred by words, pictures or videos, offensive letters, abusive or obscene telephone calls, groups behaving in intimidating ways, and unfounded malicious complaints.
More information about how to check if you are experiencing a hate crime or incident is available on the Citizens Advice website.
If you have been affected by any of these behaviours within the University community, or are supporting someone who has, there are a number of different people who can listen and support you. Their role is to give you a safe space in which to share your concerns and seek support.
You may also consider:
- using the Hollie Guard personal safety app
- explore resources as part of the Nightsafe Oxford Network
- booking an appointment with the University's Counselling Service for free, confidential support
Further sources of support from outside of the University
- The Community Security Trust (CST) has resources on their social media feeds, including guidance on how to communicate about Israel in a non-antisemitic way.
- Tell Mama is a confidential support service for those suffering from anti-Muslim hate and discrimination across the UK.
- We are aware that hate incidents impact other communities too, including people of other faiths, the LGBTQI+ community and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Further advice is also available on the Citizen’s Advice website.
Reporting hate crime incidents
Anyone who experiences threatening behaviour or is worried about their safety is urged to contact the police online or by calling 101. Any incident can be recorded by the police. In an emergency, always dial 999. Please review the current Thames Valley Police guidance.
If you don’t feel comfortable contacting the police, you can report incidents anonymously and in confidence through an independent organisation. These organisations also provide emotional support and advice. Some options include:
- Reporting antisemitism to Community Security Trust. CST also has a national emergency number which should be used to report antisemitic attacks, alongside contacting the police via 999: 0800 032 3263.
- Reporting anti-Muslim hate to Tell Mama. Tell Mama’s website features a number of different ways to report anti-Muslim incidents, including via phone or WhatsApp.
- Reporting to Victim’s First Hub, an independent charity support people affected by crime.
Read the University's Harassment policy.