University of Leicester supports Government pledge to end victim NDA use
The University of Leicester has supported a call to action from the Department of Education, by signing a pledge to end the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) when dealing with student and staff complaints of sexual misconduct, bullying and other unacceptable behaviour.
The initiative was led by Michelle Donelan, Minister for Higher and Further Education, to commit universities to not use legally-binding NDAs against students and staff who come forward to report abuse, amidst fears victims are being pressured into signing agreements which stop them from speaking out and protect the reputations of perpetrators.
The University of Leicester maintains a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any violent, abusive or harassing behaviours undertaken by staff or students.
Geoff Green, Registrar and Secretary at the University of Leicester said:
“We are proud to sign this pledge and support this important initiative. We maintain a zero tolerance approach to any violent, abusive or harassing behaviours undertaken by staff or students.
“Every allegation is taken extremely seriously and investigated, and students or staff affected will be supported and helped if they have experienced such behaviour.
“As part of our commitment to student and staff wellbeing and safety, we continuously review our regulations, policies and procedures to ensure that we can provide the best help and support possible, when it’s needed.
“We are committed to ensuring that the University builds upon this important work and becomes a leading force for change in Higher Education in tackling sexual harassment, bullying and violence.”
Michelle Donelan, Minister for Higher and Further Education at the Department of Education said:
“Sexual harassment is horrendous and complainants should never be bought or bullied into silence simply to protect the reputation of their university. Such agreements make it harder for other victims to come forward and help hide perpetrators behind a cloak of anonymity.
“The use of Non-Disclosure Agreements to buy victims’ silence is a far cry from their proper purpose, for example to protect trade secrets. I am determined to see this shabby practice stamped out on our campuses, which is why last year I wrote to vice-chancellors making my position clear.
“Several university leaders have signed a new moral contract to end the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements against students and staff, and I call on other vice chancellors to do the right thing and follow their lead.”
The University of Leicester has made it clear that any form of sexual harassment, bullying or violence is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
If any students or staff have experienced sexual harassment, bullying or violence on campus, they can immediately report this to University Security on 0116 252 2023 so that appropriate action can be taken, or contact Student Support Services for information, support and guidance on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students and staff also can report an incident using the University’s Report and Support system, either anonymously or leave an email address to seek further support from Student Support.
The campaign has received backing from MPs, campaign groups and Universities UK.
Alistair Jarvis CBE, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:
“Universities have a duty of care towards their students and staff and take very seriously their responsibility to ensuring that life on campus is a fulfilling, safe and enjoyable experience for all.
“The overwhelming majority do have this positive experience, but in the small number of cases where episodes of harassment or violence sadly do occur, it is critical that victims feel supported and confident to speak out.
“Universities should not use NDAs or confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements in harassment cases or allow any agreements which prevent open conversations about harassment. Such clauses can be barriers to the reporting of concerns and are both unethical and unacceptable.”