Wellington students lauch #MeToo blog in bid to make university experience safer

Stories of sexual assault and suggestions to improve Victoria University's support for survivors have been flowing in since the launch of a #MeToo blog by the university's students' association this morning.

Welfare vice-president Beth Paterson said the anonymous blog provides past and present students with a space to open up about their experiences with sexual assault, harassment and discrimination.

It’s also hoped the blog will highlight in what ways the university and wider Wellington region can be improved when it comes to safety, support, appropriate practices and subject content.

"There’s so many areas that need action in this space," Ms Paterson said.

"There'll be different things needed in halls of residence like training on recognising negative behaviours and on how to intervene as a by-stander, in the classroom; what are appropriate behaviours and relationships to have and there’s a lot of learning that needs to be done.

"I think in this community, as well as having really clear and transparent policies on reporting and making complaints."

Ms Paterson said sexual abuse and harassment survivors can access counselling services or report incidents to police, but often people don’t want to go there.

"I hope that this kind of blog gives people a bit of confidence in processing their own story so they can talk to someone if they need to," she said.

Stories are moderated before they’re posted, with names and identifying features or locations removed.

Ms Paterson said she felt the safety processes in place were sufficient for allowing the stories to be shared online.

The blog will be open for a month, before the stories are shared with Victoria University, Wellington City Council and the Government.

"We really hope they take those stories seriously and look through to find where they can be doing better,"Ms Paterson said.

Victoria University provost Wendy Larner said in a statement the university is supportive of the initiative, as long as privacy and natural justice issues are respected.

"We encourage any student who wants to report sexual violence, wherever it happens or has happened, to consider using the channels at the University to do so and to access the support the University provides," she said.

Welfare vice-president Beth Paterson spoke to 1 NEWS about the blog. Source: 1 NEWS