In the lead up to the Office for Students’ new condition for registration on harassment and sexual misconduct, Angela Morley, Head of Student Services at GuildHE member ICMP, reflects on their institution’s work to combat harassment, manage complaints, and build an inclusive and zero tolerance culture.

In recent years, institutions of higher education have increasingly recognised the importance of fostering safe and inclusive environments for all members of their community. In 2021, ICMP embarked on a journey to develop a Zero Tolerance campaign against harassment, sexual misconduct, and hate crimes.

Led by a dedicated task and finish group comprising of key stakeholders, including the Registrar & COO, Head of Student Services, Deputy Registrar, Complaints Officer, Head of HR, Student President, and the Head of Marketing, ICMP’s initiative aimed to address these critical issues head-on. Guided by the Registrar, the group reviewed the Office for Students’ statement of expectations and devised a comprehensive plan of action.

Integral to the group’s efforts was the inclusion of the student voice. Drawing upon feedback collected from sessions with students who had previously reported incidents, and continuous input and feedback from the Student President, ICMP ensured that the campaign was firmly grounded in the needs and viewpoints of those it aimed to safeguard.

One of the primary objectives was to establish a robust reporting mechanism. ICMP utilised a custom form-building software, to create two distinct forms: one for anonymous reporting and another for direct communication with an advisor. These forms were strategically integrated into the ICMP website, supplemented by posters and video screens throughout the campus, to ensure accessibility and visibility.

The culmination of these efforts came with the launch of the Zero Tolerance campaign at the welcome event for new students on September 13, 2021. Jointly sponsored by the CEO and the Student President, the campaign sent a clear message of commitment from both senior staff and student leaders to fostering a culture of respect and safety on campus.

Transparency and accountability are paramount throughout the process. All submissions are directed through its central complaints system and handled by the Complaints Officer. Additionally, an Annual Data report detailing the number of incidents, cases, and outcomes is presented to the Executive Committee and the Corporate Board, ensuring continuous evaluation and improvement.

Since its launch, the Zero Tolerance policy has become an integral part of ICMP’s institutional ethos. Regular messaging, visible at student events, EDI campaigns, and workshops, reinforces their commitment to preventing and addressing all forms of harassment, sexual misconduct, and hate crimes.

In conclusion, ICMP’s journey to implement a Zero Tolerance campaign exemplifies the power of collaborative efforts and student-centred approaches in creating safer and more inclusive academic environments which are a core part of ICMP’s values .