UK universities spent £1.3 million on gagging orders

Emily Hawksley discusses the use of gagging orders at University.

Emily Hawksley
2nd March 2020
It has been reported that UK universities have spent £1.3 million on “gagging” clauses to stop students from going public with complaints of sexual assault. This involves students being pressured to sign non-disclosure agreements and some even being threatened with expulsion if they go public about their assault.

Nearly a third of universities have used NDAs for student grievances since 2016 and Universities UK has said that they should not be used to silence students.
It is shocking that there is such a lack of support for students going through such a traumatic experience, especially since universities are supposed to have a duty of care for its students. One victim even said that the way she was treated afterwards was much worse than the actual assault which further exemplifies the failure of universities to offer kind and considerate support for their students and how the wellbeing of students is at the bottom when it comes to the priorities of universities. Members of staff have also discouraged the classmates of some of the victims from contacting them, and thus isolating them in a time where they would desperately be in need of support from friends and members of staff rather than be bullied into silence.

Nearly a third of universities have used NDAs for student grievances

Data says that 45 of the 134 universities which responded to Freedom of Information requests sent by the BBC, said that they used NDAs. It has also been revealed that 300 students have signed NDAs after complaints since 2016. The number of times the use of NDAs has been abused by universities is unacceptable, particularly in the age of the #MeToo movement where more people are coming forward about incidents of sexual assault and harassment. However, universities are effectively silencing the voices of these students instead of empowering them to speak out if they ever have any concerns, and so emphasises the hypocrisy of some universities especially if they pride themselves in giving students the power and freedom to express their views.

Featured Image: Geograph

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