DCU has only dealt with three sexual assault cases in the past five years, according to a Freedom of Information request.
All allegations were reported to the Gardai in accordance with section 7.4 of the University’s Policy to Promote Respect and to Protect Dignity in DCU. Revealed under a Freedom of Information request, the university also noted that no staff had made allegations of sexual assault in the past five years.
This comes as the university recently published a new sexual misconduct policy which specifically outlines steps that it may take where a student brings an allegation of sexual misconduct. DCU authorities also confirmed they will be running a campaign during the year to raise awareness around consent and healthy relationships.
DCU Students’ Union VP for Welfare and Equality Aisling Fagan told The College View that she also thought the number seemed low. She said: “I think there’s a common theme of the sexual assault not even going to the guards, they’re going straight to the rape crisis centers and bypassing all of the formalities and going straight to the likes of the rape crisis centre.”
Podge Henry, Fagan’s predecessor, also agreed the number was quite small. He noted that it did not tally with his experience in the role.
“That [the figure] seems very low to me as well for a large college,” said Noeline Blackwell, CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. She also said that students needed to be clear on what the policies around reporting sexual assault were.
Commenting on the FOI findings, a spokesperson for DCU said, “Dublin City University is committed to providing a safe environment conducive to the academic, social and personal development of all members of the university community.
“The University will take all reasonable steps to provide a safe environment for students, staff and visitors. DCU regards as unacceptable any form of sexual misconduct and operates a zero tolerance policy with regard to sexual misconduct, in line with our commitment to and membership of the Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third Level,” they added.
Asked if there was anything she would say to those students who have been subject to rape or sexual assault, Fagan said: “I would encourage them to either go to their welfare officer or go to the Guards or go to someone they trust and tell them and try get as much help as they can ‘cause it can be incredibly traumatic as well.”
The news comes in light of the revelations in last weeks Irish Examiner that three young women, all in first year, had been raped in the first few weeks of college. None of these rapes were reported to the Gardai. The Irish Independent meanwhile reported last week that over 50 students have presented themselves to the Galway rape crisis centre in the last 6 months alone.
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan stated in the Dail last week that he supported “engaging with Garda management on the issue and with interested stakeholders and advocacy groups”. The Minister noted that a “review of the practice and procedure of reporting on sexual offences which is under way under the chair of Mr. Tom O’Malley of NUI Galway”.
Image Credit: DCU