There is a new feminist assault on academia. They have won the battle of the numbers. Now wholesale behaviour change is their chosen prize.

Universities UK (UUK) have produced a report: Changing the Culture. This will examine violence against women, harassment and hate crime. Cambridge University will be one of the first to carry their beacon. Or perhaps it will be the canary in the mine.

The fact that the vast majority of students are extremely satisfied with the environment on the campus and around the university (but a lot less happy with the Student Union it should be noted) does not, according to this UUK Taskforce, indicate an absence of sexual harassment:

“Despite this positive feedback…separate evidence shows [it is] prevalent within wider society. Universities are a microcosm of society and are therefore affected by the same problems”.

Even the low number of reports on sexual harassment should not be taken to mean that a serious problem isn’t there:

“…a low number of disclosures it not necessarily proof that students are not experiencing such incidents”

Rather they just don’t know they are suffering from harassment. Their attitudes aren’t quite right…

“…in order to be agents of change in a culture that can be accepting of sexism or other negative behaviours, students and others need to believe that this culture is inappropriate. This often requires attitude change which is a gradual process…”.

The Student Union can help to change this by showing them they are suffering from harassment. This is established  through their sexual violence questionnaire, which simply has a very low bar. For example harassment includes:

 “making comments with a sexual overtone that made you feel uncomfortable”

“making noises with sexual overtones…”

“questions about your sexuality…”

The same report explains that  many women say that they are completely unaffected by less serious incidents. But the measures to be implemented will mean our young men will not be able to speak for fear of causing offence.

The aim of the UUK Taskforce is to dismantle “lad culture”. The fact that, as they acknowledge “there is no evidence to show that sexual harassment or homophobia is a direct result of ‘lad culture’”, does not bother them. When you have ideology, and above all funding, you don’t need figures and facts.

So while there  are altogether 281,000 fewer males at university * and this receives absolutely no funding,  if you want to tackle sexual misconduct, set up consent workshops or install a Sexual Assault Adviser, courtesy of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, there are very “generous” funds.

The commitments and actions that the UUK require from universities are significant. A zero-tolerance approach to sexual harassment reminiscent of that used by Mayor Guiliani. And a Bystander Intervention Initiative, which would be the envy of Chairman Mao.

There is no softly softly about this behaviour change programme. The same individuals who produced “Changing the Culture” worked with a law firm to draft guidance for how to deal with students that do not conform.

This ‘guidance’ enables universities to impose “precautionary measures” (such as suspending the accused student from his/her studies or excluding the accused student from sports facilities or a placement) simply on the basis of an allegation of misconduct. And serious sanctions if an allegation is proved. They give as an example:

“…the act of forcefully kissing another on the lips is likely to be regarded as a serious disciplinary offence, whereas the act of lightly kissing another on the back of a hand is likely to be regarded as a less serious disciplinary offence..”

However, the real purpose of the Guidance appears to be to give universities the power to impose sanctions where they should normally only be imposed by a court.

This was specifically prohibited in 1994 by Zellick’s Report  which stated that:

“At the other end of the spectrum are offences of such seriousness that substantive internal action prior to police investigation is out of the question”

And it is this which the Guidance wants to overturn.

The Guidance makes it possible for universities to take action, and impose sanctions on the most serious allegations as long as they don’t actually give them the same name as the criminal offence.

They explain that:

“It is unreasonable and dangerous for all involved to ask a university to make any findings about an alleged criminal offence. To do so would undoubtedly open universities up to legal challenge”

They even point out that:

“Institutions have neither the standing nor the expertise to make such findings about criminal offences.”

But it is drafted by a firm of lawyers and they know how to cover your back. So they:

“…strongly recommend that any such cases are dealt with as a potential breach of discipline and not as a criminal offence, and as such, no criminal offences should be referred to when seeking to define unacceptable behaviour in the Code.”

And by way of example they explain that:

“The facts and matters leading to an allegation of rape should be dealt with as potential sexual misconduct…”

As they recognise that institutions don’t have the expertise to make findings about criminal offences, they are called “breaches of discipline”, and the facts and matters are decided on a

“…balance of probabilities i.e. more likely than not/ 51 per cent or more”.

A woman can get a man kicked out of university without ever seeing the inside of a court.

While universities cannot mete out custodial sentences (some feminist lawyer somewhere will be pondering that one) being expelled  from your university course, which you have undoubtedly worked very hard for, paid a lot of money for and built your future hopes around, can still feel extremely hard.

Changing the Culture and the Guidance are not just hideous documents. They are loaded weapons in the hands of scorned or vengeful females. Any young man attending or about to go to university needs to know about these. And he had better watch out.

(Image: Guido van Nispen)