In January, students were horrified to read of the crisis unfolding at Warwick University where two male students had been involved in a group chat that spoke about the rape and abuse of women alongside racists and anti-semitic messages.
This incident was first discovered in May 2018, and at first the University responded by banning the pair from attending for a period of ten years, despite some arguing for a permanent ban. However, at the beginning of the year the pair successfully appealed the decision and it was reduced to a measly 12 months.
Students at Warwick spoke out, criticising the University’s decision to reduce the ban and the failings of the reporting system in place, with one student describing it to the BBC as being ‘time-consuming, tiring and frustrating’.
After protests from students and criticism from the national media, executives at Warwick met with the two students and it was confirmed they would not be returning to the University.
So far at Queen Mary we’ve not had to face anything like this, with the Students Union indeed taking steps to prevent it from ever happening. In a recent interview for Queen Mary Questions; VP Welfare Ella Harvey said of the rape chat incident that she did not think Queen Mary’s response would have been any better than Warwick’s. However, we know that thanks to Ella herself there have been efforts to to see better reporting of such incidents, which in turn will act a deterrent for students who were contemplating acting in such a disgusting manner.
Report and Support, improvements to the Advice & Counselling service, and the recruitment of a Sexual Violence, Harassment & Hate Crime Project Manager will all help to ensure there is adequate support in place for the eventuality that a student does go through such a horrible incident. And with the right sanctions for those committing incidents of this nature it will reinforce the message to any offenders that there will be consequences for the actions, and that they have no right to make other members of the student community feel unsafe
To learn more about the QMSU’s work on sexual violence and harassment, watch Ella Harvey’s Queen Mary Questions interview here: