Since launching at UCL, The Active Bystander Programme has trained nearly 30,000 students and student staff, empowering them to identify and challenge poor behaviour to help create a safer and more inclusive environment. But how did we get here?

Zero Tolerance Project, 2015-2018

In 2015 UCL and Students’ Union UCL launched the Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment Project, which aimed to eliminate experiences of sexual harassment at UCL.

This included the Zero Tolerance Pledge, signed by academic departments to signal their commitment never to tolerate sexual harassment, and to always support students and staff who experience it. These academic departments also ran Zero Tolerance Workshops for new students in 2015/16.

The Active Bystander Programme, 2018 – today

Following the success of the Zero Tolerance Project, Students’ Union UCL sought to create a programme that addressed a greater range of issues faced by UCL students.

This led to the development of UCL’s Active Bystander Programme, a prevention programme that aims to ensure all students understand bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct, and how to practically intervene if they witness or experience any of these unacceptable behaviours on campus or beyond. This programme involved an online module and a live in-person workshop.

Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the workshops moved online. This continued throughout 2021 and the beginning of 2022, with thousands of students participating in online Zoom workshops run by student workshop leaders.

By mid 2022 some workshops slowly transitioned back on campus and the programme began to train Students’ Union staff, with unique training on bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Almost 30,000 students have completed Active Bystander Training since its conception, with workshops taking place in Bloomsbury, Canary Wharf, and Surrey campuses, alongside the two-year stint on Zoom!

The future

From September 2022, most workshops will take place on campus. Live in-person workshops will ensure all new students understand what constitutes bullying, harassment, and sexual misconduct, and how to safely intervene if they witness any of these behaviours.

We will continue to pursue the long standing aims of the Active Bystander Programme, namely:

  • To ensure all new and returning students are trained on the Active Bystander course
  • To ensure every student is aware about how to report any incident(s) that take place at UCL and/or remotely
  • To ensure every student feels comfortable to safely intervene in situations that include bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct
  • To deliver Active Bystander training to Students' Union clubs and societies as part of compulsory training
  • For students to feel safe during their time at UCL