Womens Officer Guide







Hello and congratulations on becoming a Women’s Officer for your JCR! 

You are about to undertake one of the most rewarding roles in a Common Room. As Women’s Officer, you have the opportunity to make a real impact on your common room and college and improve women student’s experience of Oxford. It is important that you feel well-equipped so that you can make the most out of your time in the role. 

This guide is applicable to any student elected into a women’s officer/rep or gender equality role in their common room, particularly the section “Getting Started” should be a useful orientation. However, the guide is way too long for you to remember all of it at your first read. Therefore, after reading it now, put it somewhere where you’ll easily find it again. When an issue arises and you don’t know what to do, be sure to look at this guide again. It is also available on the Oxford SU website under ‘Resource Hub’. 

Lastly, we are only ever an email, or Facebook message away – do get in touch for whatever reason and we will do our very best to help! 

Gender Equality Love,  

VP Women 



FB - Search ‘Oxford SU VP Women’  

Twitter - @OxfordSU_Women


Contents | Quick Links 


Getting Started

Political Welfare

Non-political Welfare



Supporting Transgender and non-gender conforming students

Sexual Health

Testing and centres

Abortion advice

Sexual violence and centres

Other resources



Campaigning and Lobbying









This women’s officer guide will:  

  • Provide practical advice and ideas to consider and develop in your common room 
  • Equip you with the skills you need to best support those you represent in a confident and compassionate manner without sacrificing your own wellbeing 
  • Foster a collaborative network of officers working toward gender equality in order that your projects have the greatest impact in our collegiate University 



Your Role and Remit  


So, what does a women’s officer do? 

This type of position falls under various names depending on which college you are part of. But whether you’re a women’s officer, gender equality officer, or a gender representative, your priorities are the same. You are the person your common room elected to represent the interests of all women including both cis and trans women, as well as those with complex gender identities who associate in some way with the term woman.  If your role description does not specify that you do this, then your first job is to update it!  


Why do we need you?  

Content Note: This section highlights some statistics about women in Oxford and in universities across the UK. Some of these statistics are quite distressing and the Hidden Marks survey explicitly relates to sexual violence.  


Oxford SU’s 2015 Welfare Survey found that: 

  1. Women and non-binary undergraduates were over twice as likely as men to state that they felt anxious most or all of the time. The same was true for feeling overwhelmed and feeling stressed.  
  2. Amongst Post-graduate (research) students, 45% of women reported feeling stressed most or all of the time, compared to 35% of post-graduate (research) men. 
  3. At undergraduate level, men were 1.7 times more likely than women and non-binary students to perceive Oxford to have had a positive impact on their mental health.  
  4. 83% of trans respondents felt that Oxford has impacted negatively or very negatively on their mental health  
  5. 59% women and non-binary post-graduate (taught) students perceived the impact of being at Oxford on their mental health to have been negative, compared to 40% men.  
  6. At undergraduate and post-graduate (research) levels, women and non-binary students had significantly lower satisfaction levels with the welfare support they received at the University of Oxford.  
  7. 43% of undergraduates reported that they would turn to a fellow undergraduate for welfare support in the event of a short-term issue or emergency.   


NUS Hidden Marks study into women students’ experiences of harassment and sexual violence found that: 

  1. One in seven survey respondents has experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student. 
  2. Over two thirds of respondents (68%) have experienced some kind of verbal or non-verbal harassment in and around their institution. 

  3. Reporting low across all types of harassment and sexual violence. The most common reason for not reporting serious sexual assault was that the victim felt ashamed or embarrassed; 43% also thought they would be blamed for what had happened, and 1 in 3 thought they would not be believed. 

  4. 1 in 4 survivors of serious sexual assault stated that their studies had been affected by the incident 

  5. 63% of survivors of serious sexual assault reported that their relationships had been affected, 49% reported issues with their mental health, and 1 in 10 reporting that there had been consequences to their physical health 



Getting Started 

1. Ensure you’ve had an adequate handover:  

• Handover on-going projects 

• Handover welfare supplies 

• Talk through how to organise events 

• Talk about the college staff you’ll work with 

• Talk about your manifesto pledges and how you should go about fulfilling them 


2. Introduce yourself to the college staff that you will be working with over the year. Arrange meetings or visit the relevant people as soon as you take office. These may include: 

  • The Dean 

  • The Junior Deans 

  • The College Nurse 

  • The Head Porter 

  • The Chaplain 

  • The Equality Officer 

  • Tutor for Women 

  • The College Harassment Advisor 


3. Make sure you meet your colleges Women’s community regularly 

  • A mailing list can be a great way to stay in touch and disseminate events in the week. 

  • Setting up a Facebook group can also be really nice to have an active community. 

  • Try to organise events for women and non-binary students. 


4. Join relevant Facebook groups  

  • “Oxford women’s officers 2018-19” is a FB group for all JCR and MCR Women’s Officers where a lot of events and information are communicated. 

  • It is also a great resource for you to ask for advice and the experiences of other Officers. 


5. When meeting the staff who you will be working within your role get off to a good start. Be polite and friendly. Ask: 

• What their role is in supporting students 

• How you could best support the work they do

• What are the major challenges in welfare 

• What would they like to see changed or what their current priorities are


6. Make sure people know who you are and have a means of contacting you 

  • A Common Room committee contact list on a term card is a good idea. 


7. Check your constitution and standing orders; identify what your roles and duties are. Read this with your manifesto to help you plan what you have to do over the year. 


8. Get to grips with the health and welfare services available to the members of your Common Room. It would be helpful to be familiar with: 

• The services available in college 

• The services available in the university 

• The services available in the local area: NHS, Charities, Police, Sexual Assault Referral Centre, Oxford Sexual Assault and Rape Centre, Student Advice Service 



Political Welfare  

Your primary role is to endeavour to fix or influence policies, procedures and institutional problems preventing the women members of your Common Room from achieving their full potential.  


The strategies that you can use to address these problems can include the following:  

  • Papers – Presenting a paper to a college management committee allows you to get across your proposal in a formal and detailed manner. 

  • Petitions – They appear more confrontational but they allow you to demonstrate that you have a large base of support for your action and they’re hard to ignore. 

  • Open letters – Somewhat similar to petitions but have the added bonus of being very attractive to media outlets and publicity equals pressure to respond. 

  • Common Room motions – These can give you the mandate and power you need to address an issue. Again these can get a lot of attention so think carefully about the wording. 

  • Intelligent Networking – Having quiet chats in offices with the key players in college can sometimes work better than any of the tactics above. Make it appear that you’re solving a problem for them and they’ll be eager to listen. 


In attempting to alter the women’s landscape of your college it is usually more effective to approach the situation in a calm and measured manner (even though I know you may be angry, which is completely ok and make sure you find space you can express that anger). Don’t put people on the defensive, and work cooperatively. Your biggest advantage is that you represent the student view and you’re best placed to recognise how certain problems will affect students and what the solutions are. Try to make the senior management of your college realise that. 



Non-Political Welfare  

A difficult part of your role will be supporting students who are in need of support. Hopefully, you’ll have some training as a Peer Supporter and we would strongly advise you to take up the opportunity to be trained. 

You can also seek support from the SU Student Advice. Email advice@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk to arrange an appointment to talk about any issues through with a wellbeing advisor.


Here are some simple tips for supporting students who are having difficulties:  

  • Do listen. Let people vent, ask open-ended and follow up questions to encourage. 

  • Don’t seek to advise. Common room welfare officers are not trained to advise students and they should not attempt to do so. 

  • Do signpost. Signposting is one of the most important things you can do. Talk about what services may be of use to the student and how they can be contacted. 

  • Don’t make it your problem. If you feel like the conversation is heading into territory you are not prepared for or are not comfortable with don’t be afraid to stop the conversation and recommend an alternative service. 

  • Do balance your role with work and play. Being an equalities/equalities welfare officer shouldn’t bring much stress. Don’t allow the role to take over your life.  

  • Don’t know what to do? If you’re struggling to find the right service for a student, have a look at the directory in the back of the guide. If you’re still unsure send the individual to the Student Advice Service who will be able to assist unless the problem is medical in which case a GP is usually the best-placed person to assist (provided it is not a medical emergency). 

  • Know your limits, and create and stick to certain boundaries. For example, avoid calls or visits that are late at night, prioritise your academic work and social life. Alongside this, you should under no circumstances give medical or legal advice. If you do, you may open yourself up to civil and criminal liability. 

  • During this year, make sure you look after yourself and seek professional help if any aspect of your role threatens your physical or mental health. If you are a peer supporter, make sure you use your debrief sessions. 


Whenever you speak to students it is important that you are clear with them that you are not always able to keep what they tell you confidential. Make it clear prior to any discussion that if:  

  • They are a risk to themselves;  

  • Or are a risk to another person,  

  • You will not be able to maintain confidentiality.  


If they choose not to speak to you that is fine but try recommending the Student Advice Service or University Counselling Service. 




As Women’s Officer your role primarily concerns looking after the gendered needs of women, trans women and those whose identity include women. However, these needs often intersect with lots of other identities. For example, you may have women of colour in your common room, disabled women, low-income women etc. This means in your role you have to have a basic understanding of how these identities intersect. You can do this by understanding the theory of Intersectionality.  

Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorisations such as race, class and gender etc as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. 

This term was coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.  

This term basically means that one a person can experience discrimination in an overlapping way, for example, misogyny towards women of colour is likely to mix with racism, the collective term for this is misogynoir.  

Another example is how trans women who experience transphobia may also be experiencing misogyny at the same time, hence thinking about this as overlapping – transmisogyny.   



Sign Posting 

An important part of your role is to try and let students know what services are available to them. These can be services the college, the University or an outside body provides. The directory at the end of this guide, and on the Oxford SU website, is also a good resource to aid in signposting. 


A good strategy to prevent a communication overload would be to focus on the most commonly required things. These could include: 

  1. Sexual Health Services: Sexual Health Supplies, The C-Card, STI Testing Events, Sexual Health Clinics, SARCs 

  1. Sexual Violence Services 

  1. JCR Peer Supporters and Welfare Officers 

  1. General Practices (GPs) 

  1. Disability Advisory Service 

  1. University Counselling Service 

  1. Student Advice Service 

  1. Harassment Advisors 

  1. The Taxi Scheme 

  1. Mental Health 


Try and have these advertised at welfare events in your college and maybe have a poster up about them. 



Supporting Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students 

There are countless welfare providers across the university able to help trans students seeking advice or simply wishing to meet other trans students at the university. The process of coming out as trans, and taking steps towards transitioning in a college environment can be stressful, given that any steps towards coming out carry with them the risk that peers and tutors may not be receptive, or express discriminatory attitudes.  

  • LGBT Youth Scotland has compiled an amazing guide for trans youth going through the coming out process. It answers questions, gives advice and a step by step guide to coming out, amongst the many sections it contains. For a PDF version of the booklet, download it here: 

Download | Coming Out Guide for Trans People

  • The NHS also has a guidance booklet for young trans people in the UK written by trans people aged 15-22. It contains support, advice on coming out, sections on what it means to be trans, and sexual health. For a PDF version, download it here: http://www.safeschoolscoalition.org/guide4young-trans-inUK.pdf 

  • If an individual chooses to make their gender identity public, there are often lots of things that can be changed at a university-level. It is not compulsory to make changes, and they may prefer to plan things in stages. Some of the things its possible to change at university-level include changing their name, changing their student record and their email address. The University’s LGBTQ Society gives the clearest guide to transitioning at Oxford currently available to students. It also provides tips for dealing with tutors upon coming out as trans. http://www.oulgbtsoc.org.uk/trans/guidance/  

  • For anyone who wants to show their support but needs a little guidance towards understanding trans issues, the following website has a great glossary of terms describing aspects of trans experience, and offers tips on becoming a good ‘ally’. http://transwhat.org/ 




The C-Card 

The C-Card is a scheme ran by the local health authority, which entitles subscribers to free condoms, dental dams, and lubricant. The supplies can be picked up from almost any pharmacy in Oxford. The NHS is eager for more students to use this as in every pack of supplies handed out they provide instructions and different sized condoms. This promotes correct use of contraception. The C-Cards can be obtained from any sexual health clinic in Oxford. 


Sexual Health Testing 

Testing for sexually transmitted diseases can take place at the: 

  • Churchill Hospital, Sexual Health Clinic 
  • Sexual Health Clinic on Rectory Road 
  • The latter is a smaller clinic that is in walking distance for most students (just off Cowley Road). It is often open till 7pm so it’s convenient for students who are in labs until 5pm. However, it offers a more limited range of services and does not offer treatment. For more information and opening times check: sexualhealthoxfordshire.nhs.uk


GUM Clinic at Churchill Hospital 

Walk-in (no appointment needed) clinics for people who want to have a check-up for infections, regardless of whether they have any symptoms. They can provide advice and prescribe all methods of contraception.  

Emergency contraception and pregnancy testing also available. 

Drop-in clinic- Mon-Fri 09.00- 14.30 Sat 09.00- 12.00 Closed on Sundays and bank holidays.  

Appointments- Call 01865 231231 8.30- 18.00 (16.00 on Friday).

Appointments Mon-Thurs 15.30-17.15 

Tel - 01865 231231 Churchill Hospital Old Road Headington Oxford OX3 7LE  


Rectory Centre  

Full STI testing including HIV Morning After Pill Abortion Clinic  

Mon, Tues & Thurs 09.30- 18.00 Weds 13.00-18.00 Fri 09.30-15.00  

Tel - 01865 226969  

Rectory Centre Rectory Road Oxford?OX4 1BU  


Emergency Contraception  

EHC is sometimes called the ‘morning-after pill’. It does not have to be taken the morning after, but it will work better if you take it as soon as possible after having sex:  

  • • In the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, it is 95% effective.  
  • • In the first 48 hours, it is 85% effective. 
  • • In the first 72 hours, it is 58% effective.  


If you think you may need to take EHC, but it is more than 72 hours since you have had sex, you can still take one of two other kinds of emergency contraception. But for these, you will need to go to your Doctor or a Sexual Health Clinic.  

Crucial: You can get EHC from your GP (Doctor). But make sure you tell them that you need Emergency Hormonal Contraception when you call to make the appointment. That way they know you need to be seen as soon as possible.  


EHC for free

• GP

• Sexual Health Clinic 

• Boots Pharmacy on Corn Market (if 21 and under) 

• Marston Pharmacy on Old Marston Rd (if 21 and under)

• Woodstock Rd Chemist on Woodstock Rd (if 21 and under)  

If you are over 21 you can purchase EHC from a pharmacy including the ones above for a varying price, e.g. Boots is £26.75. You can usually be reimbursed for EHC payment through your college welfare team.  


Abortion access: information taken from the BPAS website 

‘If you’re pregnant and considering abortion, you are not alone. 1 in 3 UK women will have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old.’ BPAS 

BPAS, British Pregnancy Advisory Service has the most up to date information about abortion access. They offer unplanned pregnancy counselling and abortion treatment amongst many other specialist services.  

BPAS - 03457 30 40 30



I think I want an abortion what can I do? 

  1. You can call BPAS to book an appointment, you will need your NHS number which you can get from your GP 
    a. The call is charged at a local rate and phone lines are open: 

  • Monday to Friday 07:00 - 23:00 

  • Saturday 07:00 - 18:00 

  • Sunday 07:00 - 14:30 

  • when the phone lines are closed, you can leave a message and BPAS will return your call 

  1. Find your nearest clinic, in Oxford, the closest clinic is BPAS Oxford at the Rectory Centre on Rectory Road: BPAS Oxford, First Floor, Rectory Centre, 27-29 Rectory Road, Oxford OX4 1BU 

  1. Most abortions are paid for by the NHS, BPAS will need information about your location and GP to check if funding is available. You can call BPAS on the above number to talk about NHS-funded treatment. 

FAQs (more listed on the BPAS website) 


Is it confidential? 

BPAS understand the need for confidentiality and have a legal duty to protect your privacy. They keep information about you safe and secure. It’s usual for healthcare providers to inform GPs that they have treated their patients - they will ask you if it is OK to contact your GP. 


Can I change my mind? 

You can change your mind at any time - BPAS want you to be totally sure.

Call 03457304030 to cancel or rearrange your appointment so your appointment isn’t wasted.

You can also call if you want to book some or more pregnancy options counselling. 


Will abortion affect my ability to get pregnant in the future? 

If your treatment is uncomplicated it won’t cause any issues with future pregnancies. There is no proven connection between abortion and future infertility, ectopic pregnancy or other pregnancy complications. Abortion can be associated with future pregnancies ending before the due date; this risk increases with each abortion but the medical evidence is not enough to show a connection. We use evidence based information to provide you with all the information necessary to make the decision that is right for you. A healthcare professional will explain all the known risks and complications associated with your treatment choice. 


Will I need time off work or study? 

Most people return to their normal routine in a day or 2. Rest until you can resume your usual activities. 


Is treatment painful? 

This depends on the type of abortion you choose, and your own pain tolerance limit. We will make you as comfortable as possible. 

  • Vacuum aspiration (local anaesthetic) up to 12 or 14 weeks?- you will feel cramping similar to period pain. You are given pain relief tablets and a numbing injection to the neck of your womb (cervix).

  • Vacuum aspiration with conscious sedation up to 12 or 14 weeks – you are relaxed and sleepy and will feel little or no pain. ?You will be given a numbing injection to the neck of your womb and sedative medication is given through a cannula (thin plastic tube) placed into a vein in your hand 

  • Dilatation and evacuation from 15 to under 24 weeks - over 18 weeks this is done under general anaesthetic so you will be unconscious and feel no pain during the procedure. Anaesthetic or sedative medication is given through a cannula (thin plastic tube) placed into a vein in your hand. From 15 to 18 weeks treatment is usually done with conscious sedation so you will be relaxed and sleepy and will feel little or no pain. 

  • Early medical abortion up to 10 weeks (70 days) - you will have strong cramping similar to period pains. ?We can give you strong codeine and you can also take ibuprofen.

  • Medical abortion over 10 weeks (70+ days) - gas and air and painkillers are given as needed for the contractions experienced during labour and delivery. Over 22 weeks gestation you will need feticide which involves mild discomfort during the injection to your tummy. 



What is Sexual Violence?

Sexual violence is any type of nonconsensual sexual contact. If someone groped you on the bus if someone pressured you into taking a hook-up further than you wanted to, if someone made you touch them, if someone had sex with you when you didn’t say yes, that’s sexual violence 

Regardless of what their gender is or what your gender is 

Regardless of whether you know them or not.

Regardless of what you were wearing

Regardless of how much you had to drink or had taken drugs

Regardless of anything else

Nonconsensual sexual contact is sexual violence


The legal definitions of sexual violence in the UK are as follows:  

There are many forms of sexual violence which are criminal under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which can be found here - www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/42/contents 


These include rape, sexual assault, causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, and voyeurism.  

Disclaimer - Oxford SU recognises the cisnormativity and heteronormativity of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and its exclusion of trans and gender non-conforming individuals and non-heterosexual individuals.  



The intentional penetration of the vagina, anus or mouth with another person’s penis, without the consent of the individual(s) and/or if the person penetrating does not reasonably believe they have the consent of the other person(s).? 

Whether a belief is reasonable is to be determined having regard to all the circumstances, including any steps the person penetrating has taken to ascertain whether the other person(s) consents.  

(See sections 1 and 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003).  


Assault by Penetration  

The non-consensual intentional penetration of the vagina or anus with any body part e.g. fingers (not a penis) or any object e.g. sex toy.  

(See sections 1 and 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003).  


Sexual Assault 

Sexual assault covers a wide range of possible conduct.  

Sexual assault is any non-consensual touching of a person that is sexual.  

Touching is sexual, according to English law, if it is by its nature inherently sexual, or if because of the circumstances or the purpose of the person doing the touching it is sexual. This is a very broad definition indeed. Sexual assault can range from stroking or grabbing someone’s body for sexual reasons without consent to nonconsensual masturbation of another person.  

(See sections 3 and 78 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003).  



Central to these offences is the concept of ‘consent’. The acts described in the offences are only criminal if they are done to a person who does not consent.  

According to English law: “a person consents if they agree by choice, and has the freedom and capacity to make that choice.” (See sections 74 to 76 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003). It is presumed that a person does not have the freedom to consent if violence is used against them or threatened at the time of or just prior to the sexual act.  

A person does not have the capacity to consent if they are asleep or unconscious. A person may lack the capacity to consent it they are seriously impaired by drug or alcohol use.  

English law makes it clear that a person who is intoxicated may not have the capacity to consent to sexual acts, even if they are conscious. This means that while it is possible to consent when intoxicated, a person may sometimes be too drunk to give effective consent. It is impossible to draw a clear line between someone who is drunk but still able to consent, and someone who is too drunk to consent. The only way to avoid a terrible mistake is to err on the side of caution. (See R v Bree [2007] EWCA Crim 804).  

Ascertaining consent is as easy as saying “is this okay?”, “Do you like this?”, “yes”. It isn’t a contract, it isn’t an ordeal, it’s just good communication.

Consent can be described as… 

  • Affirmative (not the absence of a no but the presences of a yes- can be verbal or physical).  

  • Active (silence is not consent, and mere participation may not be consent).

  • Freely given (not something you can be pressured into giving).

  • It can be revoked at any time and is never implied.  

  • People can’t give consent if they’re unconscious or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.  

There are more complex laws concerning children, people in positions of trust, people with a mental disorder which impedes choice, people with various mental illnesses etc, these are outlined in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 also discusses indecent photographs of children, sexual exploitation of children, prostitution and trafficking.  


Sexual Harassment  

Sexual harassment is unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature which:  

• Violates your dignity

• Makes you feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated  

• Creates a hostile or offensive environment  


You don’t need to have previously objected to someone's behavior for it to be considered unwanted.  Sexual Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. You can read more about sexual harassment here 



Oxford University Harassment Policy 

A person subjects another to harassment where they engage in unwanted or unwarranted conduct which has the purpose or effect of...  

• Violating another person’s dignity 

• Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for another person


Forms of harassment: 

  • Face to face- verbal and/or physical
  • Forms of communication written, electronic, social media, directly to the person or through a 3rd party 
  • Through a prevailing environment which creates a culture which tolerates harassment or bullying


Examples of harassment, include but are not limited to:  

  • Unwanted physical contact 
  • All forms of sexual harassment
  • Offensive comments or body language
  • Open hostility
  • Offensive jokes/gestures
  • Rumours
  • Constant non-constructive criticism
  • Threatening to disclose personal info 
  • Deliberately using the wrong pronoun or name or persistently referring to an individual’s gender identity 
  • Publishing/circulating/displaying offensive material 
  • Isolation 
  • Insulting, abusive, embarrassing, humiliating, intimidating, demeaning or patronizing behavior/comments
  • Alcohol &/or drug influence is not an excuse for harassment 


Bullying is a Form of Harassment! It can be characterised as... 

Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.


Stalking may also be considered harassment: 

  • Following  
  •  Contacting/attempting to contact by any means  
  • Watching  
  • Loitering
  • Monitoring  
  • Interfering  

YES to free speech and debate! NO to harassment and hate speech!  

Vigorous academic debate should not amount to harassment as long as it is conducted with respect and without violating the dignity of others or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them.  


Things to remember!  

  • Intentions of a harasser are not always determinative of whether harassment has taken place. Perception and circumstance is also relevant!  
  • Harassment may involve repeated forms of behavior but a one off incident can also amount to harassment  
  • The recipient of harassment does not have to have explicitly stated that the behavior is/was unwanted  


In the event that:  

  • A student is accused of harassment; 
  • A student feels that the harassment they’re facing requires use of the formal harassment procedure;  
  • A student may have been the victim of a criminal offence;  
  • It is not clear how to deal with a harassment concern;  
  • Or the harassment does not cease  


The Director of Welfare and Support Service is available to offer advice and support. Confidential Email - director.swss@admin.ox.ac.uk  

Telephone – 01865 280444 


(All information has been paraphrased from The University of Oxford’s Harassment Policy which can be found here- www.admin.ox.ac.uk/eop/harassmentadvice/policyandprocedure


Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service 

The new Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service provides a safe place to be heard - independent of your college or department. We offer free support and advice to any students who have been affected by sexual harassment or violence. 




Disclosures of Sexual Violence  

In your role, it is possible that a particular issue you may encounter is supporting a student who has disclosed an incident of sexual violence or harassment to you. This kind of difficult information requires a particular set of skills to properly equip you to aid the student. If a student discloses sexual violence or harassment to you, you need to signpost them to someone appropriately trained, e.g. college nurse or welfare coordinator or to external services like OSARCC. The main points to remember when dealing with these kinds of disclosures are:  


  1. Believe the survivor: make sure you vocalise to the person that you believe what they are telling you  

  1. Listen: do not interrupt, let them lead the conversation 

  1. Recognise: it takes courage to speak out about such events, be sure to tell the person that you respect them for doing so 

  1. Respect the person, their feelings, and their decision: this may feel counterproductive, but it is important not to pressure the person into taking action if they are not ready  

  1. Signpost: whatever the person’s decision at the end of your conversation, be sure they leave knowing where they can get further support should they choose.  


SARCs (Sexual Assault Referral Centre)  

Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) are independent evidence collection and support centres. You can go to one and have evidence collected and not call the police or involve the police- this is your choice. Women, men, and children can use a SARC. They will have a specialist perform a forensic examination (if wanted) and they can give you crisis support for initial visits and arrange follow up appointments. They also provide independent advocacy and support with practical matters, telephone advise, and signposting to external services.  


Solace Centre 

Police House, Queens Avenue, Bicester, OX26 2NT 

0300 130 3036

Appointment only 


The New Swindon Sanctuary  

Vpu The Gables Shrivenham Road South Marston Swindon  

Wiltshire SN3 4RB  



Thames Valley SARC Slough  

0845 519 7638 Upton Hospital Church Street Slough  

SL1 2BJ  



Is it an emergency? Ring 999!  

If a survivor wants to contact the police that is completely ok, and if they don’t that is also completely ok and if they’re unsure that’s also ok! ?Deciding what to do after experiencing sexual violence is completely up to the survivor and no choice is preferable over another.  


Speaking to the Police  

It is best to report as soon as possible. However, you can report sexual violence at any point, even years after the event.  

Contacting the police immediately after an incidence of sexual violence:  


Evidence collection  

Having evidence collected does not mean that a report has to be made to the police, but it will help if a survivor later chooses to make a report.  

Having evidence collected can be essential to building a legal case, especially in cases where the survivor has blacked out or suspects that drugs were used. Key signs of date rape drugs include sudden dizziness, nausea, and amnesia. The symptoms will typically begin to set in about 20 minutes after the drug is consumed. Date rape drugs are normally drunk. Alcohol can also be a date rape drug.  

To get evidence collected the survivor will have to go to a SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre)-b see above. 


In regard to evidence collection this is a best practice list of instructions which should be followed as closely as possible, however, if a survivor cannot follow these this does not mean evidence is unattainable.  

  • Do not wash
  • Do not brush your teeth
  • Do not have a cigarette
  • Do not eat or drink
  • Do not change your clothes (or keep them safely to one side) 
  • Try not go to the toilet
  • Do not clear up anything from the area of the incident
  • Any evidence that is moved (clothes etc) should be picked up and stored in a paper bag


Things to remember!  

  • The survivor can have a translator and/or signer for any part of the police process
  • The survivor can bring a family or friend, however, they shouldn't be a potential witness  
  • The process will be done at the survivor’s pace
  • The survivor can stop the process at any point
  • The survivor will not be judged  
  • The survivor’s safety will be considered and appropriate measures to maintain their safety will always be put in place
  • The survivor is legally guaranteed anonymity from the press and public
  • The survivor can access support at any time during the process and it will always be given to them
  • The survivor can also go through the police after going to a Sexual Assault Referral Centre


Getting Medical Attention:  

Is it an emergency? Ring 999! 

Even if a survivor chooses not to have evidence collected, they might still need medical attention. They can go to get medical attention without disclosing that sexual violence occurred. 


A&E cannot collect evidence 

If A&E is not necessary the survivor can go to a GUM clinic which will be able to administer the morning after pill (if relevant) and discuss the possibility of anti-retroviral drugs, as well as future STI testing. 


Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre 

Oxford Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre are a collective of women committed to supporting survivors of sexual abuse, rape, domestic abuse, and harassment. OSARCC offer a free and confidential service to women and girls who are dealing with the effects of sexual violence, and to anyone who is supporting them.

For helpline support: 0800 783 6294 or 01865 726 295? 

Monday 18:30-21:00  

Thursday 18:30-21:00 

Last Friday of every month 11:30-14:00  

Sunday 18:00-20:30  





Other Resources | In College Support


There are a lot of people you can talk to at your college who can help you in different ways:  

  • College Nurse
  • College Welfare Coordinator
  • College Welfare Team (staff)
  • College Welfare Team (students- JCR & GCR/MCR)  
  • Peer Supporters in college
  • Harassment Advisors
  • Junior Deans/Wardens  


College can also...  

  • Work with you to change your room
  • Work with your tutors to make sure that you’re not being overwhelmed with work, and have the opportunity to take time off if you need it
  • Accompany you to places like the GUM clinic, the police station, or meetings with other people in college


Remember! If you tell one person that does not mean the information will be shared. Your confidentiality is always upheld unless the person you disclose to believes there is a significant risk of life-threatening harm to you or another individual. If confidentiality is breached you are well within your right to make a complaint. 



All of your events and work should be as inclusive as possible. We recommend that when organising an event you consider how accessible it is and whether all students can attend. Below there is Oxford SU’s accessibility checklist. We recommend you consult this when running all welfare events. Accessibility is also an issue that needs to be campaigned for in colleges. If you have a Disabled Students Officer assist them to ensure your college is accessible as possible. For more information get in contact with OUSU Disabled Students Officer using: oxdisability@ousu.ox.ac.uk


  • Does the venue have a hearing loop system? If not can you provide alternatives: especially the possibility of a note-taker
  • Or a portable loop system
  • Are people able to reserve seats in particular places in the venue? For a presentation, are people able to sit at the front if necessary
  • Have you informed the building staff of any access needs? Do they have enough warning to sort out ramps etc.? Are ramps clear (no bikes parked on them)? Is there space to park a mobility scooter? Is there clear signage to the venue? This should be highly contrasted (the letters should be easily visible against their background) and in large letters. Do you have signage to and from the bathroom facilities
  • How many spaces are there for wheelchair users to park? Are they able to sit with their friends? Are they able to sit in a choice of places around the room? Is it possible to remove seats? Wheelchair users should be able to access a place in the room that is suitable for them. 
  • If writing is necessary, will clipboards or flat writing surfaces be available
  • Is there an accessible bathroom? Have you checked these before the event to ensure they are fully stocked with toilet paper, soap, sanitary bins, paper towels, and an alarm cord? Is the room fully accessible (nothing is blocking the way)
  • Are there chairs available for people to sit down, even if the event is mostly standing up (e.g. a networking event)
  • If you are serving refreshments or handing anything else out, is there a flat surface for people to put these things down
  • If refreshments are available and must be collected from a table, are the tables easily reachable from a low height
  • Is food clearly labelled with common allergens and dietary requirements
  • Is there at least one entrance to the venue that is push activated or can be kept open automatically
  • For a long event, are regular breaks fitted into the schedule? Are these well kept to (even if something looks set to run over)



“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare” – Audrey Lorde 


When we undertake roles in which we care for others, taking time and energy for ourselves can seem shameful. Don’t let self-care be just another buzzword: it is important that you value your time and allow yourself opportunities to care for yourself. Self-care is critical for your mental and physical wellbeing, as well as for ensuring good stress management practises. Self-care is a radical act, which forms part of your activism as well as providing you with a break from it. Simply, the act of taking care of oneself as a woman in the world is a movement against misogyny and sexist expectations which seek to limit women’s needs and emotions.  

Everyone has a limited amount of resources that are continuously being afforded throughout the day. Whether it is your significant other, child, co-worker, or client, others are constantly taking from your resource pool. By the end of the day, you need to recharge in order to have the energy to tackle the next day. Aside from the basic needs for survival (sleep, food, water), the only way to replenish these resources is through engaging in personal activities that are unique to you and your happiness. 

Self-care may be a hard concept to grasp, as many consider it a selfish act. But in reality, self-care is another tool that needs to be utilized in order to better assist others. It is natural to want to provide for those you love, but remember that putting yourself first is the first step in doing so. Consider the barriers that stop you from practising self-care e.g. time, money, and think of how you can break these down. Here are 5 simple ways to practise self-care: 

  1. Disengage from social media 

  1. Call your partner/best friend/family member or even free listening services like Nightline  

  1. Schedule your check-ups: opticians, GP, dentist 

  1. Practise mindfulness 

  1. Activist Guilt Is Real – Give Yourself Permission to Say ‘No’ 

A good self-care routine is hard to do entirely on your own. The opportunity to share self-care practices with others can create a sense of community. Talking to other people about issues around self-care can create a sense of community and people can use each other’s skills to practice self-care better. Consider attending a women’s officer or women’s campaign social to meet people in similar positions to yourself.  


Remember: the act of taking care of oneself as a woman in a world which actively discourages from doing so is a movement against misogyny and sexist expectations which seek to limit women’s needs and emotions.  


Campaigning and Lobbying 

It is important that you and those around you recognise that your role is primarily a political one. You should seek to identify policies and institutional problems within your college that are exclusive of or harmful to the students you represent, and you should seek to campaign to change them. It should be your duty to bring the student opinion to the table and to show how your college and your university can be more compassionate, understanding and supportive. 

The following highlights some key projects you can choose to embark on during your time in your role:  


Harassment Policy 

Because of the devolved structure of the University of Oxford, each college has its own policies which may be different from the central University’s. The central University has an excellent harassment policy, which you can view here: 




Many colleges have adopted this harassment policy as their own however, some have not. You can lobby your college to adopt the University policy to ensure that students receive the same support, regardless of which college they belong to. 


Sexual Assault Referral Centre travel 

The closest Sexual Assault referral centre is a half-hour drive away from Oxford. It is well worth investigating whether your college provides a Sexual Assault Referral Centre travel scheme for students who need it. Speak with your Head Porter about this, and consider campaigning to introduce one if you don’t have one. Your college would provide a taxi service free of charge for students who request it, and would make the necessary preparations to ensure the journey to and from the centre was as comfortable as possible for the student e.g. by informing the taxi service of the nature of the booking beforehand, by sitting with the student for the journey or finding the student’s preferred person (junior dean, friend.)  


Free Sanitary Products 

Period poverty is a real issue in the UK; with low-income families across England struggling to afford sanitary protection, yet sanitary products in the UK continue to be taxed as non-essential, luxury items at 5%. 


Lobby your college to join the Oxford SU Period Project, which aims to: 

  • Provide resources to empower relevant officers to lobby their respective colleges/departments to fund free sanitary product schemes 

  • Neutralise the high cost of sanitary products in the UK by supplying products at a tax-free rate to colleges 

  • Work to destigmatise menstruation 

Get in touch with vpwomen@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk if you want to lobby your college to fund the provision of free sanitary products to all its menstruating students 


Gender-Neutral Spaces 

You can collaborate with your common room LGBTQ representative/s to: 

  • Ensure your constitution and common room documents are gender neutral 
  • Make communal bathrooms gender neutral Women’s Networks 


Foster a supportive and positive network of women in your college by arranging: 

Women’s lunches: speak with your college catering services and estates to arrange regular lunches separate to those in your hall. Depending on the constraints of your college, these could be run once a fortnight or just once a term. You can arrange this in conjunction with your graduate (or undergraduate if you are a grad student!) common room to balance the operational tasks. You can invite speakers to inspire your attendees, or invite students to share their own achievements 

Women’s dinner: your college catering and estates services may sign off on an annual women’s dinner open to all members of the college: SCR, MCR, JCR and staff, who identify as a woman* to attend. Create a seating plan which mixes students and staff, invite an alumna to speak, and enjoy! 



How do I get my college to make change happen? 


  • Papers – Presenting a paper to a college management committee allows you to get across your proposal in a formal and detailed manner. 
  • Petitions – They appear more confrontational but they allow you to demonstrate that you have a large base of support for your action and they’re hard to ignore. 
  • Open letters – Somewhat similar to petitions but have the added bonus of being very attractive to media outlets and publicity equals pressure to respond. 
  • Common Room motions – These can give you the mandate and power you need to address an issue. Again, these can get a lot of attention so think carefully about the wording. 
  • Intelligent Networking – Having quiet chats in offices with the key players in college can sometimes work better than any of the tactics above. Make it appear that you’re solving a problem for them and they’ll be eager to listen. 



There is lots of training available to you as Women’s Officers.  The SU offers: 


Consent Workshop Facilitator Training 

Consent workshops run on masse across the colleges during fresher’s week each year. Often, the responsibility of coordinating these workshops falls to common room women’s or welfare officers. As the likely lead liaison for consent workshops in your college, it is important that you do the following:  


  • Provide the VP Women with the number of incoming students your common room is expecting, so that they can provide you with an adequate number of resources. 
  • Seek permission to make consent workshops compulsory for new students 
  • Book a date and venue in which to hold the workshops 
  • Ensure you have enough trained facilitators to assist you in making your common rooms consent workshops a success 

Email the VP for women vpwomen@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk to book a training date in your college 


Bystander Intervention Training 

This workshop, developed by Oxford SU Women’s Campaign along with resources from Hollaback! aims to help attendees to feel more comfortable intervening in incidents of harassment in a variety of ways.  

These workshops are run by the VP Women: get in touch at vpwomen@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk 



Welfare Officer Training 

This is a workshop with follow up talk through sessions run by the VP Welfare and Equal Opportunities. 

Contact VP WEO at vpweo@oxfordsu.ox.ac.uk for more information. 



Directory: Oxford SU 






VP Access and Academic Affairs 



VP Charities and Community 



VP Graduates 



VP Welfare and Equal Opportunities 



VP Women 








Equality and Diversity Unit  

01865 289825 



Student Information and Advisory Service 

01865 286223 


Proctors Office  

01865 270090 




Resources: University Support 


Counselling Service  

Is a free and confidential service where you can book an appointment with a trained professional to get support and talk through your experiences.  


3 Worcester Street 

01865 311500


Student Advice Service 

Is an independent advice and information service for students at Oxford University.  


4 Worcester Street Oxford OX1 2BX 

Details online at Oxford SU 


Harassment Advisory Network  | Individuals in departments and colleges who can listen  


01865 270 760  



Oxford Nightline is a completely independent listening, support and information service run for and by students. Nightline provides the opportunity to talk to someone in confidence.  

8pm-8am, 0th week to 9th week during Oxford term time.  


Peer Support  

The Peer Support Programme was developed in recognition of the essential role students play in supporting and encouraging one another on a day-to-day basis throughout their time at university. Peer supporters are students who have received training to enable them to listen effectively, communicate sensitively, maintain confidentiality, respect boundaries and recognise when and how to encourage referral to professional support services. All peer supporters abide by a Code of Practice.  


Disability Advisory Service 

The University offers a range of support to help those with a disability to maintain their track record of academic success as they pursue their studies. The Disability Advisory Service provides information and advice for students with disabilities including sensory or mobility impairments, health conditions, specific learning difficulties, autistic spectrum conditions or mental health difficulties, and can assist with organising disability-related study support.  

For more information check: www.ox.ac.uk/students/welfare/disability


University of Oxford Trans Policy  



Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service 

The new Sexual Harassment and Violence Support Service provides a safe place to be heard - independent of your college or department. We offer free support and advice to any students who have been affected by sexual harassment or violence. 



Resources: Local Support


General Practices 

Check on your colleges’ website to find who the college doctor is. Registration forms for common room members should be provided prior to your arrival.  



OSARCC offer a free and confidential service to women and girls who are dealing with the effects of sexual violence, and to anyone who is supporting them.? 

For helpline support: 0800 783 6294 or 01865 726 295? 

  • Monday 18:30-21:00  

  • Thursday 18:30-21:00? 

  • Last Friday of every month 11:30-14:00  

  • Sunday 18:00-20:30  




Resources: National Support


The Survivors Trust  

The Survivors Trust (TST) is a UK-wide national umbrella agency for 135 specialist organisations for support for the impact of rape, sexual violence and childhood sexual abuse throughout the UK and Ireland?Support, Advice and Info: 0808 801 0818?thesurvivorstrust.org  


Safe Line  

Speak to our Helpline and Online Advisors 0808 800 5008

Contact the #5MillionMen Support service 0808 800 5005 (male helpline)  

Call our Young people’s Helpline?0808 800 5007

Text our Helpline and Online Advisors 07860 027573 Mon 10am–4pm, Tues 8am – 8pm, Weds 10am – 4pm, Thurs 8am – 8pm, Fri 10am – 4pm, Sat 10am – 12pm



Rape Crisis UK  

Rape Crisis England & Wales is a national charity and the umbrella body for our network of independent member Rape Crisis Centres. Freephone 0808 802 9999 10am - 12am every day  



Live Fear Free  

Live Fear Free is a Welsh Government website, providing information and advice for those suffering from violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence. Free and confidential helpline:  

0808 8010 800 | Open 24/7 



Survivors UK  

Helpline specifically for male survivors 02035983898  

Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm  


Mankind UK  

Specifically for male survivors


National Helpline 0808 800 5005  



US based service, website is also available in Spanish. Live chat is available.



Domestic Violence Support:  

Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline  

The Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline can provide emotional support and practical information for adults affected by domestic abuse. It works with victims to empower them to make decisions regarding their relationship, irrespective of whether they wish to leave or not. The helpline can help with any enquiries that you may have and provide access to support services

0800 731 055

Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm Free and will not show on telephone bill



Women’s Aid  

A federation of over 220 organisations, Women’s Aid provide more than 300 local services to women and children across the country.

www.womensaid.org.uk 08082 000 247 - Freephone 24 hr  


National Centre for Domestic Violence  

The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) provides a free, fast emergency injunction service to survivors of domestic violence regardless of their financial circumstances, race, gender or sexual orientation.  

Free advice and help for survivors of all genders


0844 8044 999  


Oxfordshire Domestic Abuse Helpline  

0800 731 055 Mon-Fri: 8am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm 

Free and will not show on telephone bill  



Counselling to individuals who are in or have left a violent relationship including men.


Live chat is available

01865 242 960  



Refuge supports women, children and men through a range of services, including refuges, independent advocacy, community outreach and culturally specific services.


08082 000 247 - Freephone 24 hr  


National Union of Students 

0845 5210 262 



NHS Direct:  111  www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

Emergency Services: 999 

Thames Valley Police: 101 

Oxford City Council: 01865 249811


First Aid- Red Cross 



GUM Clinic

01865 231231 


Shelter Housing Advice Line

0808 800 4444 (8am-8pm Mon-Fri / 8am-5pm Sat-Sun) 

Churchill Hospital, OX3 7LE 



01865 722122 



Oxford Friend – local LGBTQ+ counselling service 

Telephone 01865726893 

Email confidential@oxfordfriend.co.uk 

Facebook Message Oxfordfriend 


Citizens Advice Bureau 

08444 111444 



Terrence Higgins Trust 

 01865 243 389 



Student minds 



Students Against Depression 



Oxfordshire Mind  

01865 263730 



Alcoholics Anonymous 

0845 769 7555 



FRANK- Drugs Advice  

0800 776600 



Sex work support: 

English Collective of Prostitutes 
T: 020 7482 2496 
Email: ecp@prostitutescollective.net 


Pregnancy and abortion support: 

BPAS Clinic  

BPAS Oxford 
First Floor, Rectory Centre, 
27-29 Rectory Road, 
Oxford OX4 1BU 

T: 03457304030  


Revenge Porn Helpline: