Image: Geograph / Des Blenkinsopp

Durham University launches investigation into “abhorrent” social media posts

Tw: Rape, sexual assault.

Durham University has launched an investigation into “utterly abhorrent” sexist and offensive comments on social media, which were apparently made by incoming students.

Pro-vice-chancellor Jeremy Cook said that, if they were found to be “genuine and attributable”, those responsible would have “no place at Durham University”.

A series of posts from a group chat were shared on the Overheard at Durham Uni Facebook page.

The content included getting girls drunk and spiking their drinks, drug use, having sex with multiple female students and concerns about being accused of rape.

One poster said that he would sleep with “a different bird every night for a bed”, while another referred to “posh lads” competing to sleep with the poorest girl.

Lydia Gibson, a student at Durham, said that the posts had been shared by a member of the group who “maybe wanted to warn his fellow students”.

She added: “I read these messages and then just thought to myself this is just not acceptable, this isn’t just lad banter.

“You can’t come to university and think that saying those types of things is OK.”

An anonymous comment on the post said: “This is a lad’s group chat that has been set up. As you can see their language is absolutely vile. They’ve also been talking about spiking girl’s drinks in Freshers.

If these posts are found to be genuine and attributable, we will take action to ensure that those involved will have no place at Durham University

– Pro-vice-chancellor Jeremy Cook

“This is just awful behaviour and as a mother, it scares me to death that boys who are only 18 are capable of being so disgusting towards women.”

Durham has launched an immediate investigation, and urged anyone affected by the messages to contact welfare support.

Mr Cook said: “The University has been made aware of some utterly abhorrent comments on social media that we understand may have been posted by Durham students.

“Durham University utterly condemns the content and behaviour demonstrated in these social media posts. This is entirely unacceptable and violates the values and behaviours that we uphold as a University community.

“We instigated an immediate investigation by our student disciplinary team as soon as we were made aware of these social media posts. If these posts are found to be genuine and attributable, we will take action to ensure that those involved will have no place at Durham University.

“Any of our students who have been affected by this social media activity are advised to contact welfare support or their colleges who will be able to offer them help and support.

“Our students are regularly reminded to display positive and collegial conduct, and exercise responsibility and respect for others, particularly through their social media interactions.”

Durham Survivors, a community group set up by students to offer support and a safe space to survivors of sexual assault, condemned the comments. A spokesperson said: “The comments are deeply worrying and prove how vital a page like ours is while a culture like this still exists in Durham.

“We’re appalled and frankly terrified for the future and safety of Durham students if people think like this: these comments are racist, misogynistic and classist. Nothing of this sort should even begin to be tolerated by our community.”

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