Words by Emily Jayne Bruce, Staff Writer
Trigger warnings for rape and sexual assault.
The ‘Enough is Enough’ protest took place on Monday 15th November in the Library Square as hundreds of Sussex University students gathered in solidarity. It was a call for action, to push for Sussex University to become a place where people do not experience rape and sexual assault.
Campaigners took to the megaphone to share their stories of assault both on and off campus, their difficulty reporting, and the lack of justice they experienced. For some, their assault happened in their own university halls. Some spoke of their reports being dismissed and ignored. Many shared the fear and concern they felt just leaving their flats at night.
Signs were seen in protesters hands, with statements including “My dress isn’t a yes”, “End rape culture”, “Enough!”, “boys will be
boys held accountable for their actions”, “sexism is an institutional problem which requires institutional action”, “Sussex Uni has a rape problem” and “We will not be silenced”.
Jess Leigh, president of the University’s Feminist Society has shared the following statement:
“We are protesting because Sussex Uni is not doing enough, and we have had enough. Even those who have reported have found the perpetrators being allowed to stay on university campus. This isn’t safe. We demand:
- A zero-tolerance policy. This means removing students who are perpetrators of violence.
- There is a severe lack of preventive work, with consent courses being voluntary. We want all staff and students to attend mandatory consent and sexual violence courses.
- Students on campus feel unsafe with security and staff allowed to walk into their flats unannounced. This is not okay and is a massive breach of safety.
- We also want Sussex to provide financial support for victims of sexual violence to access specialised support therapy.”
During the protest, Lu Simatele, who studies an MA in Gender, Violence and Conflict at the university, thanked the men for attending. Lu continued:
“Although we love to see it, the men we need to be here are not the men in the crowd. Unfortunately, a bad habit that some men have, is only ever wanting to listen to other men. Therefore, we ask that the men here absorb what they are hearing, go home, and tell their friends. And next time, bring them to the protest with you. We shouldn’t be the ones educating men on why they shouldn’t sexually assault us. We are giving men the resources, it’s now time for them to do the work.”
The University responded via an email discouraging students from sharing posts on social media that might identify individuals, as this could have consequences for any potential criminal investigations. They also encouraged all victims of assault or misconduct to report their experiences using the Universities Report + Support Tool.
They insisted that “all students who report issues will be supported by the University”. Further, the email highlighted that the university is working with student group ‘Under The Sheets’ to develop and improve their response and support to students who experience sexual assault or misconduct at Sussex.
Students insist that the protests will continue until further action is taken to prevent sexual assaults and harassment on campus – as well as to manage the consequences.