Bullying also present in university

Students say bullying takes on a subtler form in university

(Photo by Studiostoer, Flickr creative commons)

Bullying is a problem that doesn't go away after high school, Halifax university students say. They say bullying is still a problem, even at the university level.

"I think there is a lot of pressure to be a certain way," King's student Amanda Harle said about life in university, "And if you don't conform to what people think you should do then I think there is bullying, for sure."

Harle isn't alone. Students say they have seen and heard bullying at university.

"I've heard bullying happening" Thomas Smith, a student at Dalhousie University said. "When you become an adult you should understand...what you're doing if you're causing emotional pain to somebody. At this point in life, I would consider it harassment over bullying."

Nicholas Hatt, the Dean of Residence at the University of King's College, says he uses two words when referring to bullying in university.

"Intimidation and harassment," Hatt says.

The Dean says he sees four to five reported cases of bullying behaviour per year in university. Bullying exists in university just as it exists in society in general, Hatt says.

"Certainly, we're not immune to that," Hatt said. The bullying often takes place when people have been drinking, and when he and residence dons respond to it, it disappears quickly.

Bullying is a subtle beast in university

Lucy Campbell says bullying is an issue in university, but instead of it being physical bullying, which might be characteristic of grade-school bullying, she says in university it takes on a more subtle form.

"I think it's really psychological things," Campbell says. "Putting other people down is a big thing. I find that you can see that a lot."

Pressure to behave a certain way, and gossiping are the forms of bullying that most university students say they've experienced, and Campbell says most of this stems from a sense of competitiveness in the university community.

"The most common form that I've had to deal with as the Dean is people being called names or being intimidated," Hatt said.

Present but not pervasive

Hatt says university students are often capable of handling bullying problems on their own.

"I know of lots of students who have felt intimidated, harassed or bullied by other students, and they've actually been able to manage it themselves through their peer groups," Hatt said.

He says people like himself and residence dons step in when the students need assistance.

In the cases he has dealt with, solving the problem often comes down to reminding the bully that they are valued and have a place within the university community.

Thomas Smith said that while bullying is still present, it's easier to avoid it in university. "

It's just a lot more accepting of an environment compared to high school," Smith said.

While there is awareness around bullying, particularly in grade-school, some say that university students and the greater society could benefit from increased awareness in general because, as many students say, bullying doesn't always go away after high school.

"Bullying is a personality type. I think there are people who are just bullies. That's how they get through life," Lucy Campbell said. "I would say [bullying] is present in all stages of life."


Comments on this story are now closed