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21 October 2015, 08:10
Nearly one in five students say they were victims of some form of sexual harassment during their first week of term, a survey has found.
While 17% of respondents stated they had received it first-hand, a further 29% said they had witnessed abuse directed at somebody else, the poll by the National Union of Students (NUS) found.
The most significant forms of harassment were unwanted sexual comments about people's bodies - including wolf whistling when students walk into lectures - heckling in nightclub queues and jokes about rape.
The majority (59%) of these incidents happened at social events or night clubs, while a third (33%) happened in halls of residence.
The poll of 2,600 students aimed to find out the extent to which students had either been victims of or witnesses to sexual harassment during their first week of term.
It also found two-thirds (66%) stated they were not aware of the procedure to report these incidents and 12% felt they would not be taken seriously if they did.
And 61% said they were not made aware of any codes of conduct implemented by their university, with a further 29% not sure.
The "laddish culture'' of many university campuses has been brought to the forefront in recent years, with students speaking of sexism, sexual harassment and assault as commonplace.
The telling of rape and sexual assault jokes and use of sexualised images in promotional material are also often seen as part and parcel of the university experience.
NUS women's officer Susuana Amoah said: "It's extremely worrying, but not surprising, that so many students in their first term of university have experienced sexual harassment or seen it happen to somebody else.
"NUS has been working over the last five years to bring sexual harassment on campus to the forefront of the national conversation, and make sure institutions are taking it seriously.
"Reporting systems for sexual harassment are either lacking or not visible to students in a lot of cases, and this needs to change.
"We are working with nine students' unions who have audited their own processes and those of their institutions, and we will be supporting many more to carry on this work until students feel aware of how to report sexual harassment, and safe and confident that their concerns will be taken seriously.''