The University of Warwick has faced further criticism of failing to deal with sexual misconduct after a student who groped another student on campus was allowed back to the university.
(Trigger warning: Sexual assault, rape)
Jessica, not her real name, criticised the university over their decision to allow a student who groped her back onto campus despite her wishes that she no longer wanted to see the man at the university again.
The incident occurred in 2019 while Jessica was watching a film with a friend in his on-campus room.
During the film, he tried to kiss her and touched her breasts under her clothing without her consent. Jessica alleges that the man also tried to put his hand down her trousers twice.
After being told by an independent sexual violence advisor that a police report could take a number of years to conclude, Jessica reported the incident to the University.
She described how the incident has impacted her study and has resulted in her university experience being “ruined” and that it would be “hugely triggering” to see the man on campus.
A disciplinary hearing was held where the man fully admitted to two of the charges and partially admitted to the third. However, the hearing faced delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In November, Jessica was told by the University that they were considering three out of the four allegations proven.
The man was told to avoid campus other than for educational purposes related to his course. He was also told to join a sexual misconduct behavioural changes programme.
The University told Jessica and the man that they should avoid contact.
I told the university I didn’t want to see him on campus and it was totally disregarded
Jessica said she was “shocked” by the University’s response. She said: “Even if he is only supposed to go to lectures or seminars, you can’t really monitor what he does on campus, so he can still roam freely.
“The buildings we study in are quite close to each other. I told the university I didn’t want to see him on campus and it was totally disregarded.”
The incident happened a year after it emerged that 11 male Warwick University students sent explicit messages on a group chat including comments about rape and assault against female students.
Following an internal investigation, three students involved were expelled. Two had their 10-year bans reduced to 12 months.
In November, a petition was launched by first-year student Laila Ahmed, calling on the University to “take action against sexual assault cases”. The petition has received over 50,000 signatures.
Later that month a protest was held on campus where hundreds of students demanded for better action to tackle sexual assault from the University and the Students’ Union (SU).
A spokesman for the University and the SU has said that students involved in disciplinary cases were supported by liaison officers and that members of the disciplinary panel receive sexual misconduct training.
The spokesman said: “Our policy on sexual misconduct is clear – it will not be tolerated.
Individuals found to have broken our values, either by police or by our disciplinary processes, will face sanctions, which may include expulsion.”