NUIG launches Speak Out platform for students and staff

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Launching the Speak Out online tool at NUI Galway were, from left: James McCormack, Head of Student Counselling; Gemma MacNally, Student Counsellor; Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, NUI Galway President; Dr Padraig MacNeela, Lecturer with the School of Psychology and Active* Consent Programme Co-Lead; and Róisín Nic Lochlainn, NUI Galway Students’ Union President. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

NUI Galway has launched its Speak Out online tool for students and staff to anonymously report violence and harassment.

The platform is part of a new initiative in higher education institutions nationally to allow for increased recording and monitoring of incidents which will then be used to develop prevention, support and reporting.

Speak Out allows students and staff to record bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, discrimination, hate crime, coercive behaviour/control, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said that the University is delighted to support the initiative and that it is symbolic of NUI Galway’s focus on ensuring it fulfils responsibilities for the public good.

“We are a respectful, open community, committed to welcoming and sustaining, in excellence, all the talents,” said Professor Ó hÓgartaigh.

“All members of the University community have the right to study or work in an environment free from bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.

“Speak Out empowers our community in reporting such incidents.”

Professor Ó hÓgartaigh encouraged people to do so, and to confront those elements of society that are unwelcome and unwelcoming and therefore in need of change.

The Speak Out tool is available for students and staff at NUI Galway at https://nuig.speakout.ie/

Developed for Ireland’s higher education sector, it is led by the Psychological Counsellors in Higher Education Ireland (PCHEI), with the support of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and the Higher Education Authority.

The data collected through Speak Out will be used to inform policy and targeted educational initiatives.

It is the goal of PCHEI to provide a trauma-informed tool which will provide users with support services relevant to their experience.

This project is a groundbreaking initiative underpinned by an ethos of cross-institutional collaboration in response to such incidences within higher education institutions.

Gemma MacNally, from the NUI Galway Student Counselling Service, said: “We are proud to make the Speak Out tool available to our University community of students and staff.

“It is an important part of our institutional Action Plan to ensure that sexual violence and harassment become more visible and openly discussed.

“The Speak Out tool provides a new option for people to have their voices heard.

“Meanwhile, we will continue to work on other parts of our Action Plan, such as education and training on positive behaviours, supports, and the mutual respect that must underpin the NUI Galway experience.”