Bullying is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour involving the misuse of power that can make a person feel vulnerable, upset, humiliated, undermined or threatened. Power does not always mean being in a position of authority. It can include both personal strength and the power to coerce through fear or intimidation.
The College recognises that there are a number of power dynamics that can arise in a university, for example between a lecturer and a student or a researcher and their supervisor. The College is alert to the potential for bullying and harassment to occur where there is an imbalance in power.
- Bullying may include (without limitation):
- physical or psychological threats;
- overbearing and intimidating levels of management or supervision;
- inappropriate or derogatory remarks about someone's performance;
- public shaming or humiliation in front of others; and
- purposefully ignoring an individual’s work or contributions in class.
Bullying may also include subtle or insidious acts including (without limitation):
- unequal treatment in the application of conditions of employment
- unreasonable pressure to complete tasks;
- unfair allocation of work or assigning more work to an individual than others;
- unreasonably withholding permission to attend training and development opportunities including promotion, academic conferences or similar events;
- persistent criticism;
- spreading malicious rumours; and
- making threats or comments about job security without foundation.
Cyber bullying is any form of bullying that is carried out online using electronic media devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, or gaming consoles. It can take place on social media platforms such as (but not limited to) Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, LinkedIn, through email, or online collaboration sites such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
Harassment is any unwanted physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. A single incident can amount to harassment.
A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended "target" of the harassing behaviour.
Harassment is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 if it relates to age, disability, gender reassignment, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, or if it is conduct of a sexual nature (sexual harassment).
However, the College considers all harassment to be unacceptable, whether or not it relates to a relevant protected characteristic.
Sexual harassment (or sexual misconduct) is any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading or offensive environment. Sexual harassment may include (without limitation):
- unwanted physical conduct or "horseplay", including touching, pinching, pushing and grabbing.
- continued suggestions for social activity after it has been made clear that such suggestions are unwelcome; or
- unwelcome sexual advances or suggestive behaviour (even if the harasser perceives it as harmless).
Sexual harassment is complex and may not always be obvious or follow an easily recognisable pattern. It is important to note that:
- a person can experience unwanted conduct from someone of any gender.
- conduct may be unwanted even if the person subject to it does not expressly object to it.
- it may not matter whether the conduct is acceptable to others or is common in the person’s work environment.
- sexual interaction that is invited, mutual or consensual is not sexual harassment because it is not unwanted; and
- sexual conduct that has been welcomed in the past can become unwanted.
A hate crime is defined by the Met Police as:
Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.
Hate crime does not require specific evidence as long as the victim believes the incident is due to prejudice of race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender. You also do not personally have to perceive the incident as hate related as any other person or witness can think the incident is hate related – and that is enough for this to be recorded as such.
Hate crimes generally fall in to three categories: physical assault, verbal abuse and incitement to hatred.
Physical assault of any kind is an offence. If you’ve been a victim of physical assault you should report it. Depending on the level of the violence used, a perpetrator may be charged with common assault, actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm.
Verbal abuse, threats or name-calling can be a common and extremely unpleasant experience for minority groups.
Victims of verbal abuse are often unclear whether an offence has been committed or believe there is little they can do. However, there are laws in place to protect you from verbal abuse.
Incitement to hatred
The offence of incitement to hatred occurs when someone acts in a way that is threatening and intended to stir up hatred. That could be in words, pictures, videos, music, and includes information posted on websites.
Hate content may include:
- messages calling for violence against a specific person or group
- web pages that show pictures, videos or descriptions of violence against anyone due to their perceived differences
- chat forums where people ask other people to commit hate crimes against a specific person or group