Over the past year the University of Suffolk has been funded by HEFCE (now the Office for Students) to increase student awareness of online safety, encouraging the University to become a civil place to be online as well as offline. As part of this, we have been firing out various online safety messages to our students, putting on events by national and international experts in the field, as well as engaging in discussion with students and staff.
In the upcoming months, particularly during October, we will be running an online campaign with various online safety messages in relation to some of the topics we have covered in the previous editions of student life magazine, such as image-based sexual abuse, online fraud, indecent images and consent (so keep your eyes peeled!).
As well as this, we will be launching the second round of the Microsoft Digital Civility survey to capture student experiences of various types of online risk, both whilst at University and the years beforehand, such as trolling, unwanted messages, and mean comments online. I will also be holding digital discussion sessions, where university students can come along and talk about their experiences and/or your friends and families’ experiences online. If you are interested, this will be an opportunity for you to feedback as to what matters to you online, what risk you may have come across, how you have responded to this, but also what you think we, as an institution can do to ensure that your online safety is taken seriously (you could also get free pizza, I am now best mates with Papa Johns and willing to pass on their doughy goodness to you all).
Now, I will stop rambling about the project (but please keep an eye out for upcoming events, you won’t regret it, promise!). I thought it would be an idea to sum up some really quick advice as to how to keep yourself safe online based on some of the topics covered previously, particularly for you new and returning, enthusiastic, fantastic students preparing for a new term at our beautiful waterfront campus (only slightly jealous the student years are behind me, can you tell!?). So here we go:
1. Money Laundering
A quick bit of easy cash straight into your bank account seems appealing right… However, if you get approached by someone online from a ‘scheme’ asking you to hold money within your account whilst keeping some for yourself for the trouble… don’t! If caught, the consequences are brutal, facing a potential prison sentence as well as struggling to get a future loans and contracts.
If you want to find out more, visit www.moneymules.co.uk and the ‘Don’t be fooled’ campaign supported by Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA) and CIFAS.
2. Image-based Abuse
Being coerced and pressured into sending images or videos both online and offline is a form of sexual harassment. Private or intimate images shared without your consent is not ok, it is your body, your rights and there are organisations out there to help you should this happen to you at any point:
If you are over the age of 18 and have had a nude or sexual image shared of you without your consent, contact the Revenge Porn Helpline https://revengepornhelpline.org.uk/
If you are under the age of 18 and someone online has a nude or sexual image of you shared without your consent, contact the Internet Watch Foundation https://www.iwf.org.uk/
3. Protecting Devices
Starting University means an excuse for a new… Laptop? Phone? iPad? (obvs, come on we all do it). But have you thought about how you might protect your device and data? Think about installing anti-virus, using a password manager to create complex passwords, two-factor authentication and backing up those all-important university assignments!
For further information and advice around protecting both yourself and your devices, visit www.getsafeonline.org
Here at the University of Suffolk, alongside our Students’ Union, we have student safety and wellbeing at the heart of what we do, and we want to ensure students have the best time possible whilst studying with us and beyond! Encouraging resilience to online risk and civility online is a big part of this, after all, we’re all in it together right, particularly throughout this ever-changing digital world of ours.
For project updates, including an abundance of online resources and opportunities to be involved, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and search for the hashtag: #DigitalCivilityUni
Twiter : UOS_SISER @UniofSuffolk @UOSUnion
Facebook : @UOSSISER @UniofSuffolk @UOSSU