Rape, sexual harassment and any unwanted pictures or messages are unacceptable and should not be tolerated. This year, at Cardiff Met SU, we wanted to tackle the modern day myths and stereotypes that exist within society regarding sexual misconduct. We hold a zero tolerance towards this type of behaviour at Cardiff Met and I believe, as the SU we should be at the forefront of conveying this message to staff and students alike. We wanted to achieve long-lasting impact, and create a positive legacy and believe our campaign #NotanExcuse can do this.
The campaign headline ‘#NotanExcuse’ was created by Cardiff Met students, as this was a consistent message during our student forums, which were run in partnership with New Pathways, who provides rape crisis and sexual abuse support services. It became very obvious that no reason is good enough to harass, force or coerce for sex or sexual pleasure, and everyone felt very strongly on this. We wanted the content to come directly from our population, to provide a connection between the campaign, the university and the SU. These forums were extremely informative into how society hasn’t actually come that far over the years, with old-fashion stereotypes such as ‘it only happens to women’ and ‘sexual misconduct is always physical’ still becoming apparent with present day students.
During the creation of the campaign, it became clear that the messages needed to be strong in order to be impactful, and that we can’t always play safe and tread the line. To spark a change of behaviour and awareness of the campaign, the messages needed to be clear, concise and hard hitting. Alongside this, there was every intention to ensure that our students, staff and governors became the face of the campaign, to unify every voice into one powerful statement. We commissioned a member of our alumni to create our campaign videos, in order to celebrate the standard of students that we create here at Cardiff Met.
As one of the campaign leads, the SU Vice President stated “As a student at Cardiff Met, I always felt safe and supported on campus and was aware of the support services available to me. However, I never thought anything more of comments that were made during social events, because isn’t that just a part of university life? Comments regarding choice of clothing, or body shape were regular occurrences for me as a young female student. I was never a provocative dresser, and I’ve always been very active, but does this give people a reason to pass judgement on another person? Should my choice of clothes determine how I’m treated? It’s time for the whole of society to think about how we treat others, and the possible affect it could have.
As a result of creating this campaign, there is hope that this will start the change in culture, regarding what is acceptable and unacceptable throughout society when it comes to sexual misconduct. Also, there is a hope to encourage Cardiff Met students and staff to challenge this behaviour in their everyday lives and understand the support that is available to them. It’s been so rewarding to be given a chance to head up this campaign, as it’s something we feel a very strong connection to. Furthermore, to see staff and students come together, and stand for the same message is really powerful and uplifting.
This campaign officially launched on February 1st 2021 in line with Sexual Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness week. During this time, and going forward, we ask everyone to stand up and covey the same message, that there is #NotAnExcuse.