University College Cork (UCC) has received dozens of complaints about alleged harassment, bullying and sexual harassment in recent years – but only 10 cases led to an investigation.
The 10 investigations conducted at UCC since 2017 related to grievances against employees.
New data collected under freedom of information laws shows that since 2017, UCC has received 50 complaints alleging inappropriate behavior from students and staff. Among them are 11 complaints of sexual harassment.
Records show that there were 27 complaints of student bullying and harassment to UCC’s Campus Watch program or to the Student Disciplinary Committee.
Four complaints of sexual harassment were filed with the Program and Committee against Students.
Campus Watch addresses less serious complaints and encourages informal resolution and mediation. The student disciplinary committee deals with more serious allegations.
None of the complaints against students led to an investigation by UCC because their student regulations did not allow such a procedure until they were changed last year.
UCC said no students have been screened since the rule change.
Some complainants use other means to resolve the matter, such as B. Mediation
A spokesman said UCC had previously “supported students who made allegations of a criminal nature and instructed them to report the incident to the Gardaí as a criminal matter, but did not record such allegations”.
He said not all complaints are investigated for various reasons.
“Some complainants choose other means to resolve the matter, such as B. Mediation,” he added.
“Like other Irish higher education institutions, the university is currently reviewing its procedures in light of the consent framework and expects to update its policies, procedures and data collection processes accordingly.”
This framework was launched three years ago to promote safe, respectful and supportive campus cultures across the higher education sector amid concerns about underreporting.
Independently of this, UCC received 19 complaints relating to inappropriate behavior by employees. Seven of these related to alleged sexual harassment by employees. Four of the sexual harassment complaints were investigated.
Records also show that 12 harassment and bullying complaints were filed with the university under the Respect and Right to Dignity at Work policy. Six of these led to full investigations.
UCC has spent €157,483 on investigations and legal advice related to complaints since 2017
UCC said it could not provide details on the outcome of these investigations because of the risk of identifying the parties involved.
Nine of the examinations were carried out externally. One was an internal UCC investigation.
The college also said none of the complaints since 2017 have been the subject of controversial non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) used elsewhere in the tertiary sector.
Colleges were ordered last year by College Secretary Simon Harris to stop using NDAs after Senator Lynn Ruane told the Seanad that colleges are using public money to silence victims.
Financial records show UCC has spent more than €110,000 on investigations since 2017. This does not include expenses for this year and for an ongoing complaint.
In total, UCC has spent €157,483 on investigations and legal advice related to complaints since 2017. No money was paid for settling cases.
Earlier this year, a student told that Sunday independent He was unhappy with how UCC handled his complaint after alleging he was sexually harassed by a doctoral supervisor in 2017.
The allegations were denied by the lecturer – and although both parties issued written statements, they were never independently investigated until a year ago.
A counselor was asked to consider whether UCC should proceed with the matter but found so much time had passed that “natural justice and fair trials” would be jeopardized.
UCC said it strives to provide a safe work environment for its employees and students and visitors to the university.
It says the policy on the duty of respect and the right to dignity at work places “an increased focus on the early and local resolution of grievances and encouraging the use of mediation to resolve issues wherever possible”.
The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s chief executive, Noeline Blackwell, previously said that the third-tier systems in place to deal with sexual harassment complaints were not fit for purpose until overhauled over the past two years.
The changes mean that colleges and universities must report cases of sexual harassment and bullying on campus every year. Universities have also been tasked with developing action plans to combat sexual violence and harassment in this sector.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/university-fields-dozens-of-complaints-about-improper-behaviour-by-students-and-staff-41925900.html The university files dozens of complaints about inappropriate student and staff behavior