A specially-trained team of students will play a key role in a £100,000 research project at the University of Huddersfield that aims to ensure hate crime cannot take root on UK campuses.
Although the university currently has no actual reports of hate crimes, in common with many universities across the UK, research has shown that victims often fail to report it.
The aim of the project is to investigate and dismantle any barriers that might hinder the reporting of crimes or incidents motivated by factors such as race, gender or disability. One of the outcomes will probably be the establishment of a single recording and reporting point.
The project’s manager, University of Huddersfield director of student services Matt Mills, said: “One of the motivations for our project is to better understand the reasons behind the lack of reporting. We will introduce measures to better support our students, because the consequences of hate crime against an individual are awful.”
The Higher Education Funding Council for England established a fund for projects to tackle hate crime and online harassment on campuses.
The University of Huddersfield was awarded almost £50,000 for proposed research called Enhancing a Safe and Secure Learning Community.
This money has been matched by the university itself and its partners – West Yorkshire Police, Kirklees Council and the Huddersfield Students’ Union – so that the 12-month project, now underway, is funded to the tune of £100,000.
One important element will be the recruitment of some 20 students who will act as peer educators on campus and online.
Matt added: “They will speak with fellow students, possibly run some training programmes. We want to develop some positive messages encouraging reporting and we know these will be widely shared with current students. The project will illuminate the reasons for under-reporting and as a result we will understand the situation much better.”