STUDENT representatives of University College Cork and Cork Institute of Technology have said they are “in the dark” about the circumstances surround three alleged rapes that have taken place since the start of the college term.
It was reported this week that three female students had informed Cork Sexual Violence Centre that they were raped since the college term began this month.
UCC Student Residential Services and Community Relations Officer Gary Mulcahy said the university takes these issues very seriously and they would like to offer support to the people affected.
Both CIT and UCC said that they offered a counselling service that they would encourage as the first port of call for anyone who may have experienced an issue of sexual assault.
CIT Student Services Officer Fiona Kelly said anyone in a crisis situation would be seen straight away by the counselling service at CIT, while Mr Mulcahy added UCC had a number of welfare staff members who would also be available if such a situation arose.
Mr Mulcahy said that UCC runs the Bystander Intervention Programme which looks to cultivate a culture of sexual respect and the college has also begun consent classes since September.
“If a student has been affected, either directly or indirectly, by sexual violence and harassment, we would always encourage that student to engage with our counselling and welfare services, which are freely available to all UCC students, offering confidential advice and support,” he added.
The UCC Feminist Society has been running non-mandatory consent classes in the university since Freshers Week.
Consent officer for the society, Kaleigh Power, said they were horrified to hear about the three reported rapes: “It’s very upsetting that two of these young women have now dropped out of college,” she added. Unfortunately, these occurrences are not unusual.”
The UCC FemSoc hopes the university will introduce mandatory consent classes in the near future.
“Sexual consent should be ongoing, mutual, enthusiastic and freely given,” said Ms Power.
“We truly believe by clarifying the definition of sexual consent with students we can help make our campus a safer place for all students. We hope that these reports will help the university realise that consent classes should be made mandatory.”
UCC Student Union president Alan Hayes also said that talks on consent were included in this year’s orientation.
“We are doing work around consent, but nobody is doing enough,” Mr Hayes said.
“The secondary school system needs to be updated. For the majority of students, orientation is their first time hearing about consent.”