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August 13, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Lack of Sexual Assault Policy Leaves Students Feeling Unheard

Voiceless, powerless, and unheard. That is how two students at Victoria University of Wellington have felt after making a sexual misconduct complaint to the University against a postgraduate tutor, who continued to study and teach in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences after the findings of misconduct.
The chemistry tutor allegedly groped females, made sexual comments, and followed them home. The two females complained in February of the sexual misconduct, with the University offering the students sessions of restorative justice with their alleged harasser. After declining this offer, they heard no more from the University about the issue and process of discipline, while their tutor remained in their teaching position.
Provost Professor Wendy Larner has stated that the University takes allegations of harassment seriously, and that a number for formal measures had been put in place. However, Victoria does not have a stand-alone sexual harassment policy and does not explicitly list sexual misconduct in its student conduct statute. The University also does not have a direct complaint process or guideline. It has one mention of sexual misconduct in its staff policy.
Pam Thorburn, director of Student Academic Services at Victoria University of Wellington, stated that sexual violence can be addressed through the Student Conduct Statute, and that they take a survivor/victim lead approach to responding to disclosures of sexual violence. Additionally, information and services can also be found on the University webpage and through the office of Student Interest and Conflict Resolution.

Nonetheless, in this case these measures did not stop the tutor from teaching young women after the discovery of their wrongdoings, including the two victims, and it is unknown as to whether the tutor is still teaching.
VUWSA President Marlon Drake states that VUWSA is in favour of a sexual harassment policy to be put in place, as “it is important that all students know their options, and have the confidence and ability to access the support they want to”.

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