RGU make pledge to end gender-based violence

Clockwise: Prof. Steve Olivier (Principal and Vice Chancellor), Warren McMurray (RGU Boxing Society President), Ibiye Iyalla (Associate Dean of School of Engineering) and Ian Lowe (Head of Sport, RGU SPORT)

ROBERT Gordon University (RGU) has partnered with White Ribbon Scotland to further its commitment and action in eradicating gender-based violence.

The University is working with the Scottish organisation and joined what’s thought to be the world’s largest male-led movement that works to end violence against women and girls.

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The partnership will see men across RGU make a commitment to “never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women in all its forms”. The pledge has been led by Professor Steve Olivier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

He said: “Gender-based violence is unfortunately prevalent across society. Being part of a male-led campaign which aims to eradicate it is very important for RGU as a progressive, inclusive University.

“I’m proud to front this campaign on behalf of RGU and I’m sure many of my colleagues and the wider University community will join me in committing to the pledge and taking a leading role in ending violence against women and girls.”

This development with White Ribbon Scotland will ensure a steering group is established between male colleagues and that training is undertaken to ensure that they can spread awareness of the campaign and educate their colleagues on its background and importance, as well as how to deal with any reports of GBV.

Davy Thompson, Campaign Director, White Ribbon Scotland, said: “White Ribbon Scotland reaches out to engage men who do not perpetrate male violence against women and encourages them to speak out about their opposition. We believe this can be most effective within communities and this includes the community of students, teaching staff, support staff and the executive of further education bodies such as universities. 

“This is why we are pleased to be working with Robert Gordon University. Messages shared throughout the University, which increase the understanding of what violence against women is, its prevalence and what men can do to help prevent it, gain effectiveness as they become mainstream topics of conversation.

“Changing men’s inclination to stay silent about the subject starts to create healthy changes in attitudes and behaviours and leads to more equality and respect. We look forward to a sustained project across the University for many years to come.”

RGU has been consistent in its commitment to addressing GBV and in 2018 appointed a network of voluntary GBV First Responders. There are currently 49 of these, each trained by Rape Crisis following the government’s Equally Safe in Colleges and Universities (ESCU) three-tier training framework.

The University’s Report + Support platform remains online 24-7 to support anyone in need through both anonymous and named reports while ResLife, the University’s student support service, continues to support students in halls, including out-of-hours reactive support.

Several male colleagues from across RGU are included in a video to launch the partnership and emphasise the importance of it being a male-led campaign.

Warren McMurray, RGU Boxing Society President and Law and Management student, added: “The White Ribbon pledge is a hugely important campaign and one that I’m proud to be a part of and commit to. There is considerable opportunity in sport, and particularly male-dominated sports like boxing, to break down barriers and influence change.

“I hope to encourage many of my peers to take the pledge and, through education, help position students and sport at the forefront of ending gender-based violence.”

The University takes great pride in its safe, inclusive campus and welcoming environment, reflected in its regularly high student satisfaction figures as published by the National Student Survey.

RGU SPORT has organised an educational on-campus Walk and Talk event on Thursday 7 December for more staff and students to learn about the campaign and commit to signing the pledge.

The partnership with White Ribbon Scotland has been announced during the United Nation’s 16 Days of Activism, an annual international campaign to raise awareness around the world and call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.

Marischal College in Aberdeen city centre was lit orange to mark the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism on Friday 24 November while a Reclaim the Night March took place the following night.

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