Queen Mary is investing over £50,000 into a platform that will be used by students to report hate crime and direct them to services that will offer sufficient support.
Report and Support, the online reporting tool praised by many anti-hate crime activists, is already being used by other universities, including The University of Manchester, Goldsmiths and Brunel.
Queen Mary students will be able to anonymously report hate and abuse, ranging from bullying and discrimination to sexual harassment and domestic violence. The platform, which will be integrated into Queen Mary’s website, will then also be able to suggest appropriate support services.
In a statement, QMSU’s VP Welfare and champion of the ‘Report and Support’ platform, Ella Harvey wrote: “This is a HUGE win and I am absolutely thrilled – this is a huge step in the University committing to taking sexual violence seriously and means that students are able to report stalking, harassment, rape, assault and cyber abuse … which is what we have been asking for for years!”.
When reporting an incident, the system asks the user a number of questions, including if they are reporting for themselves or on someone else’s behalf, the accused’s relationship to the University, and what faculty they are a part of. The user is then directed to an appropriate support service’s website and the incident is logged so it can be investigated further.
When reporting, Report and Support also asks optional questions regarding ‘equality groups’ to inform their future work. Report and Support say on their website: ‘For example, we might want to know how many female students have made a report in the last six months’.
Currently, if students want to report hate or seek support, Queen Mary’s website offers links to external services and support lines. However, there are so many of these listed that it is unclear to students which one will be most suitable.
Some reporting tools the university currently recommends (including Queen Mary’s own Appeals, Complaints and Conduct office), are just email addresses or basic submission forms which are often dubbed ‘ineffective’; they fail to immediately support vulnerable people who may be reporting crime as they are not anonymous.
In a recent interview with The Print, Ella Harvey said: “Currently the complaints process is the same for everything, whether you steal something from the Queens’ Building or rape another student. It’s the same process”.
The newly recruited Project Manager tackling Sexual Violence, Harassment and Hate Crime at Queen Mary will oversee the implementation of the reporting platform.
Report and Support is due to be up and running at Queen Mary sometime in the second half of 2019.