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Guidelines produced to prevent sexual harassment in university drama departments

The Guidelines for Preventing Sexual Harassment will be given to drama students so they can know what to expect. Photo: Shutterstock The Guidelines for Preventing Sexual Harassment will be given to drama students so they can know what to expect. Photo: Shutterstock
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Guidelines aimed at preventing sexual harassment in university drama and theatre departments have been drawn up in response to a spate of recent allegations within the industry.

Called Guidelines for Preventing Sexual Harassment, the document states that its aim is not to “curtail academic or artistic freedom” but to “encourage these freedoms to be exercised in an ethical, responsible and appropriate manner”.

They are aimed at all genders and have been produced for teaching staff, students, administrative staff, and visiting speakers and professionals.

The guidelines are broken down into three areas: responsibility, care and consent. The document states that there should be “a shared responsibility to address sexual harassment”, including ensuring all staff and students are aware of what constitutes harassment and the policies that are in place to deal with it.

Playwright Dan Rebellato is on the working party that drew up the guidelines for the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments, which represents the interests of drama, theatre and performance in the Higher Education.

He said key to the guidelines was the idea of “pushing consent to the foreground”.

Writing for The Stage, he said: “A student must know what they are consenting to, must give it freely and clearly, must consent to particular things and, if the context changes, the consent must be sought again.”

Rebellato told The Stage the guidelines had been produced after it became clear that nothing existed to address harassment in light of recent claims against key figures in the industry, including Max Stafford Clark.

“I was aware that Max and other people are regular visitors to university drama departments and I suddenly realised we do not have a very brief set of guidelines that we can give out to people to outline our principles in this area,” he told The Stage.

He said the aim would be for all drama departments to adopt them and put them on their websites.

“The best thing to do is give them to students so they know what to expect and they become aware that they should be asked for consent for certain practices,” he said.

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