The university introduced a new initiative called 'Breaking the Silence', aimed at ending all forms of sexual misconduct in Cambridge University. This initiative involved a new policy on staff-student misconduct, an update of the 'Dignity at Work' policy and the introduction of the new university-wide procedure for sexual assault, rape and harassment.
The video produced by the University to mark the opening of the campaign is present below.
Breaking the Silence:
The University Sexual Assault Procedure
Reporting Sexual Assault or Misconduct
Detailed below is an explanation of the different options available to you when reporting misconduct, harassment or assault to the university.
In more detail: Procedure for Handling Harassment and Sexual Misconduct
When a student decides to report sexual harassment, they may go through either their college's harassment policy or through the university-wide procedure ('The Procedure') - you cannot bring a complaint to both the university and your college.
When can I use the procedure?
If you make a complaint to the university via The Procedure, it will first go to a panel, which will decide whether dealing with the complaint under The Procedure is the best course of action or whether they should refer the matter to be dealt with under a College policy. They may also recommend other solutions.
a complaint of harassment and/or some forms of sexual misconduct is made and concerns members of the same College, it will likely be dealt with within that College
a complaint of rape and/or some forms of sexual misconduct is made and concerns members of the same College, it will likely be dealt with under The Procedure
a complaint of harassment and/or some forms of sexual misconduct is made by a person/people from College A against a person/people from College B, it will likely be dealt with under the procedures in College B
a complaint of rape and/or some forms of sexual misconduct is made by a person/people from College A against a person/people from College B, it will likely be dealt with under The Procedure
a complaint of rape, sexual misconduct, or harassment is made and concerns members of more than two Colleges (for example in cases concerning University sports teams), it will be dealt with under The Procedure
The Procedure allows you to reduce your possible interaction with the perpetrator(s). After the investigation, likely outcomes include:
a conduct agreement, for example preventing students contacting you or being able to access certain buildings
a behaviour awareness assessment for the other students
How does the procedure work?
You can report a student using an online form (university webpage here). A report should normally be made within 3 months of the incident, but you can still report it after this if you can give a reason you did not report it earlier.
You will then be notified of whether your case will be dealt with under The Procedure, referred to your college, or if the university is recommending another solution. This will happen within 2 weeks of submitting your form.
If being dealt with under The Procedure, your case will be investigated and the university will recommend actions to be taken by the perpetrator to reduce contact between them and you. If an agreement cannot be reached, the complaint can be brought under the University Discipline Procedure with the complainant's permission.
The University Discipline Procedure (unlike 'The Procedure') works under a burden of proof so requires wrongdoing to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Can I report the incident to the police as well?
If the complainant reports the incident to the police, the university investigation pauses while the police case is open. Once the police investigation closes, the university investigation continues regardless of the outcome of the police investigation.
A further explanation of the new policy can be found here.
If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us on this website or Facebook, or email the CUSU Women's Officer on
There are 3 different routes available to you when reporting sexual misconduct, harassment or assault, outlined below:
Procedure for Handling Harassment and Sexual Misconduct
Series of multiple choice questions
No action will be taken
Designed to measure the impact of the new procedures & monitor levels of sexual misconduct
Can be used by students, staff or visitors to the university
For sexual harassment & misconduct, and hate crime
No time limit on how long ago the incident occurred
Independent investigation exploring what actions can be take to improve the situation
The university will suggest actions which may or may not be agreed to by both the survivor and perpetrator
Does not require proof/evidence
Does not require either the survivor or perpetrator to be involved in the investigation
4-6 week time from reporting to outcome
If survivor not satisfied with investigation or outcome, they may refer it to the disciplinary procedure at any time
University Advocate decides if the student is charged with harassment
Disciplinary Committee considers charge
Works on basis of 'Burden of Proof' - evidence must prove the event occurred beyond reasonable doubt
The committee decides on the sanction received by the perpetrator
3-4 month time from reporting to outcome