July 22, 2020
Issue 08

Massey takes steps towards a new sexual harm policy

Massey’s new Sexual Harm Policy is currently being drafted and is expected to be available for open consultation in Semester Two.

This is one of a few big steps forward since September last year when a PhD student was allegedly assaulted by a colleague on the Palmerston North campus.

A spokesperson for Massey said, “Massey takes any sexual harm against students and staff very seriously. We have implemented several changes to support and improve our response to anyone who may have experienced any sexual harm and we are developing a policy to further support students and staff.”

This policy is being developed by a working group including representatives from the student associations, Thursdays in Black, sexual assault groups and staff that was formed in 2019 after Massey made a promise in a Stuff article last year that changes would be made.

Massey says that the policy is currently being drafted and is expected to be available for consultation in Semester 2.

As well as this, there has been a supervisor accreditation programme for PhD supervisors started this year including training on how to handle sensitive issues and students' needs and the creation of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Students and Alumni role, a senior leadership position for students.

Any students and staff who may have experienced sexually harmful behaviour are encouraged by Massey to reach out to the university.

According to MUSA president Stefan Bieberstein, MUSA has its own sexual harassment policy, which was last updated in 2018 and has a five-year review period.

He emphasises that consultation is key to informing their policy decisions, “When MUSA’s sexual harassment policy is next reviewed I'd expect the board to consult with Thursdays in Black, our Advocates (both registered social workers) and any external advisors they felt had useful expertise.”

Students have access to support services such as student life managers, health and counselling, the harassment resolution team or student association advocate. Staff are encouraged to contact their human resources advisor.