Universities pledge to stop the use of NDA for sexual harassment victims

A monumental shift in the fight to stop the silencing of sexual harassment victims took place on the 18 January, backed by the Minister for Higher Education Michelle Donelan MP Since 2016, it has been reported nearly a third of universities have used NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) to suppress victims of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct’s voices. A […]

Sam Norman
15th February 2022
Wikimedia Commons
A monumental shift in the fight to stop the silencing of sexual harassment victims took place on the 18 January, backed by the Minister for Higher Education Michelle Donelan MP

Since 2016, it has been reported nearly a third of universities have used NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) to suppress victims of bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct’s voices.

A BBC investigation found the following: 

300 – Number of NDA’s used to resolve student complaints since 2016.

45 – Number of Universities involved.

£1.3m – Amount paid out.

£250-£40,000 – Amount of individual pay-out amounts.

The pledge by universities was welcomed by the global campaign #CantBuyMySilence. The group was founded by former Harvey Weinstein aide Zelda Perkins and Canadian Law professor Julie Macfarlane and functions to end the harmful use of NDAs, making them a natural ally of the university campaign.

The #CantBuyMySilence campaign enables student’s to access a list of all Universities that have co-signed the pledge, with also an option to send a letter to your Vice-Chancellor. Newcastle University and Northumbria University are both listed supporting the pledge. 

The Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University Professor Chris Day released his own statement on the 21 January 2022, re-affirming his support to end the use of NDAS, as he said, “we work hard to create a supportive and caring environment where our people feel able to speak out, safe in the knowledge they will be listened to and believed.”

A second-year Northumbria University student who chose to remain anonymous said they welcomed the breakthrough, but highlighted the underlying issues raised by the advancement, stating, “we’re making headway, but is it a milestone when this just shows the number of predators protected at the expense of their victims?” 

Despite this, the progress is being hailed by many as a catalyst for changing attitudes. A first-year Newcastle University student who wished to remain anonymous said, “progress like this shows people their likeliness of getting away with these actions are decreasing. The tip of the iceberg has been hit and everything underneath is coming to the surface.”

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  1. Good article and it is encouraging that people are being listened to now but still a long way to go. Well written piece.

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