Sunderland students animate need for culture change

Zoe Cooper, Student Union Digital Communications Assistant at Sunderland University with some of the posters Picture: DAVID WOOD
Zoe Cooper, Student Union Digital Communications Assistant at Sunderland University with some of the posters Picture: DAVID WOOD
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The University of Sunderland has launched a campaign to tackle attitudes to hate crime, harassment and violence.

It was created in response to a national call to make campuses safer and make students aware of what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.

In 2016 a national universities task force examined violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students, and made a series of recommendations for UK universities.

In response the University of Sunderland set up a number of initiatives, including online reporting tools, as well as face-to-face confidential support for students.

These include the campaign made by University of Sunderland graduates Daniel Hepple and Zoe Cooper, which includes an animated video, posters and a poem which focuses on what is acceptable behaviour.

The pair were asked to get involved after the university approached the Students’ Union about the best way to reach students with messages that would resonate with them.

One of the animations in the campaign.

One of the animations in the campaign.

The union suggested that the university worked with digital interns Daniel and Zoe, who created the video which outlines what support is available to students.

The project began with a poem which Zoe wrote in response to her experiences as a student.

She said: “I created the poem as I wanted something that students would actually relate to, and as a student myself only last year, I knew many of the struggles they face.

“I wanted to make something memorable so students recognised it instantly and could also feel connected to.”

Zoe Cooper, Student Union Digital Communications Assistant at Sunderland University with some of the posters Picture: DAVID WOOD

Zoe Cooper, Student Union Digital Communications Assistant at Sunderland University with some of the posters Picture: DAVID WOOD

Daniel, 22, from Sunderland, graduated with a degree in Digital Film Production in 2017, works as a trainee script editor on CBBC’s The Dumping Ground.

He said: “We really wanted to get the message out there, and felt this animation would be the best way to do it.

“I think a lot of the messages in Zoe’s poem are common sense, but perhaps some things will surprise and educate people on sexual consent.”

Oliver Pritchard, deputy director of student journey at the University of Sunderland, said: “We aim to promote a supportive environment in line with our strong track record on equality, diversity and inclusion.

“Key to this support is ensuring that our students and staff know how to raise concerns about gender based violence, hate crime and harassment, where and how to access support and how to make safe interventions via our Active Bystander initiative.

“Working closely with our Students’ Union we are now launching this cross campus information campaign so that our whole university community benefits from these key messages.”