The CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre Noeline Blackwell is supporting a recommendation that all third-level colleges should be obliged to provide classes on sexual consent for students or risk losing State funding.
The report follows rising concerns over the level of rape and sexual assault on college campuses.
Ms Blackwell told RTE radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that, apart from UCC, any initiatives that have taken place to date have been organised by students rather than college authorities.
“It must be part of a broader understanding to colleges that such behaviour is not acceptable.
“Credit to the students who recognised this need, but they can only do so much, they need the support of the college.
“They cannot put in place codes of conduct or stipulations, only the colleges can do that.”
Ms Blackwell said that at present if something happens there isn’t any official recognition of “the need to deal with it”. Students have the option to go to Gardaí as there is no system in place within the colleges to ensure that those who carry out such actions are stopped.
Few colleges have a system for reporting such incidents, she added, or for having such a report dealt with.
The recommendation in the Government-commissioned report is an important initiative, said Ms Blackwell. That is why the Government, the National Women’s Council and the Rape Crisis Centre want to find a way to get the colleges to “act in concert.”
However, she said it appeared that none of the colleges want to admit they have a problem as “they fear fingers will be pointed.”
A recent survey by the USI had found that eight per cent of students had experienced rape or attempted rape, which underlined the need to make college campuses a safer place, she said.
The issue has to be prioritised. “Colleges need to put something in place to ensure their campuses are safe.”