Bristol University and SU call for ‘culture change’ in joint statement following the death of Sarah Everard


By Epigram News Team

Content warning: discusses sexual violence

Bristol University PVC for Student Experience, Professor Sarah Purdy, and all Bristol SU Officers have issued a joint statement to remind students of available support following the death of Sarah Everard.

The statement was sent to all students earlier this evening and begins by describing how ‘the sad and shocking news of the death of Sarah Everard highlights the vital importance of the safety and wellbeing of women and people of historically oppressed genders.

‘The University of Bristol and Bristol Students’ Union are tackling gender-based harassment and violence together,’ it adds, ‘and will continue this critical work to ensure all students feel as safe as possible wherever they are, both on and around campus.’

Sarah Everard, 33, was a marketing executive who disappeared after she walked home from a friend’s flat in Clapham, south London, on the evening of 3 March.

A serving Metropolitan Police Officer, Wayne Couzens, 48, is now due to stand trial in autumn for kidnapping and murdering her.

The case has reignited a national conversation around gender-based violence and harassment.

The joint statement from Bristol University and the Students’ Union adds: ‘Public sexual harassment and sexual violence at UK universities and across our society is a serious issue.

‘We have a robust and confidential system in place to help students report incidents and to support anyone impacted by these recent events.’

It also points out the support services that are available for students during a period that ‘may be a very distressing time for our students who have experienced gender-based violence or sexual assault.’

Anyone who experiences or observes ‘unacceptable behaviour by others’ have been urged to use the online ‘Report and Support’ tool and been reminded there will be no penalty for breaking COVID regulations in the event of needing to take action.

Any reports made against other students can also be investigated as part of the University’s Disciplinary regulations, the statement explains, recognising that whilst reporting such incidents to the police is encouraged, ‘you may choose not to or feel unable to do this’.

Candlelit vigil held on College Green in memory of Sarah Everard
Bristol iFemSoc to hold virtual vigil following disappearance of Sarah Everard

The statement concludes by condemning the behaviour of some attendees who recently interrupted an online vigil, which had been held by Bristol University’s Intersectional Feminist Society in memory of Sarah Everard.

Both the University and SU also add they ‘will work in partnership with other Bristol-based organisations to eliminate gender-based violence from our campus, and our city.’

‘This is at the heart of us living safe and well in our University community. We will continue to work together to develop appropriate resources and activities to train and educate, engender a culture of respect, care and tolerance, and tackle the wider issue of sexual harassment and violence.’

Featured Image: Cameron Scheijde

For more information, visit the University’s new web page.