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University Centre Shrewsbury will be supporting White Ribbon Day on Sunday 25th November, which will kick off a nation-wide “16 Days of Action” until 10th December. David Clarke, Student Support & Academic Quality Coordinator explains why.

What is White Ribbon?

White Ribbon specifically works with men and boys to challenge those male cultures that lead to harassment, abuse and violence. The organisation aims to engage with men in England and Wales so that they understand that women’s safety is an issue for men too, to take action to end men’s violence against women, and the social norms and inequalities which sustain it. White Ribbon encourages men to speak out and be active bystanders, challenging abuse and violence against women and girls; and to promote positive masculinity in men and boys.

Why is University Centre Shrewsbury supporting this campaign?

It is vitally important at UCS that we all work together to embed a culture of equality and respect to all. By backing the White Ribbon campaign, we are committing ourselves as a University community to engaging with others to call out sexist, misogynist behaviour when we see it. I would also hope that as individuals we can encourage friends, colleagues and classmates to challenge those attitudes when they encounter them amongst their peers.

We all encounter unhealthy and inappropriate attitudes to women on a daily basis. I’ve spent much of my time in large groups of lads, where objectification and sexualisation of women can be the norm. Often this is seen as ‘harmless banter’ – but left unchallenged, where can those attitudes and behaviours lead to? As I grow older, and particularly as a dad to two young girls, I am also increasingly aware and mindful of how challenging it can be for women in a very male-dominated world. Universities are fantastic places, safe havens where all students should be able to flourish, to reach their potential and have the confidence to explore themselves and their place in the world. However I have experienced Universities where overtly ‘laddish’ cultures have taken hold, particularly around certain student clubs and societies which actively encourage toxic masculinity. At UCS it’s important that we strive to ensure this never happens. Society places enough barriers in front of women without any more – consciously or unconsciously – being constructed here.

UCS is already a genuinely wonderful community to be part of. The togetherness and respect shown to each other here is something we should celebrate, be proud of, and not take for granted. As a new institution we have such an exciting and privileged opportunity. Every student and member of staff here is involved in the process of laying down our values and foundations for the future. I’d encourage everyone to take ownership of this – to challenge unhealthy and inappropriate behaviour, and play their part every day to ensure that the cultures that we are developing now are positive and long-lasting.

Show your support for the campaign by signing White Ribbon’s pledge.

Students and staff are invited for a coffee in Stop Cafe, UCS, on Monday 10th December at 11am, where Student Support staff will be available to discuss the campaign and provide further information

Axis Independent Sexual Violence Advisor service will be holding a discussion session and confidential drop-in for students and staff from 10am – 2pm on Monday 10th December

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