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More Scottish universities investigating claims of sexual abuse on campus after allegations emerge online

Two Scottish universities are among other institutions in Scotland investigating allegations of rape and sexual assault after claims appeared on Instagram implicating students in sexual assault and rape charges. 

The University of St Andrews and the University of Stirling are in contact with the founders of two Instagram pages dedicated to sharing student experiences of sexual assault and rape at their respective institutions. 

Both universities have recently seen a spike in claims of sexual assault following survivors sharing their experiences online. Allegations from students at the University of St Andrews were posted on an Instagram account entitled ‘St Andrews Survivors’, which was set up with the aim of “empowering survivors of sexual violence at the University of St Andrews”. 

The account administrator, Ms A, said that “people who attend here come from privilege, they come from money, they come from power” which means that “it’s hard to motivate to accuse that person when you’re so acutely aware of the power they hold”. 

In response to the increase in rape and sexual assault claims, the university has reported that they will be introducing compulsory lessons on sexual consent. 

Police Scotland are also working with the university over the claims, but they said that they hadn’t received any allegations, while the vice-principal of education at St Andrews has said that they have reached out to the founder of the Instagram account. 

The president of St Andrews Student Association, Dan Marshall, asserted that he wasn’t surprised by the claims and “we’ll make sure we deal with every incident that is reported to us”. 

What these Instagram pages confirm is that sexual violence is a real issue across higher education institutions in Scotland

– Sandie Barton

One particular fraternity at St Andrews has come under fire after nine separate rape claims were made against its members. Alpha Epsilon Pi has suspended some of its members and reassured students of its commitment to putting in place “anti-rape culture education” and regarded the allegations as “abhorrent”.

Speaking to The Guardian, the founders of ‘St Andrews Survivors’ expressed anger at their university for not reaching out to students who had experienced abuse directly. 

In a similar situation, ten incidents of rape and sexual abuse have been documented on a ‘Stirling Survivors’ Instagram forum for students at the University of Stirling. 

Each post shares an individual experience with sexual assault and/or rape by students at the university and beyond, as well as sharing experiences with racial misconduct and harassment at the university. 

“I went from being an incredibly outgoing individual to being withdrawn, depressed, suffering from PTSD and afraid of new people”, said one student on the Stirling forum, who claims to have experienced rape and assault after meeting a man at a nightclub and being dismissed by the police because the incident was a matter of “consent”.

Stirling’s student support team have contacted the administrators of the account and affirmed their commitment to tackling rape culture on campus. 

Sandie Barton of the Rape Crisis Scotland charity said: “What these Instagram pages confirm is that sexual violence is a real issue across higher education institutions in Scotland.”

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