Content warning: sexual assault
There have been over 150 reports of alleged sexual misconduct disclosed through the University of Warwick’s Report and Support portal since it began operation, a Freedom of Information (FoI) request shows.
The University’s portal has been in operation since the academic year 2019/2020. Students and staff can report anonymous cases of sexual misconduct, bullying, harassment, discrimination and hate crimes through the portal, as well as speak to an advisor.
There were a total of 158 cases of alleged sexual misconduct that were reported through Report and Support since it began operation. In the academic year 2019/2020, there were 39 anonymous reports of alleged sexual misconduct and 61 reports who spoke to an advisor.
There were 30 anonymous reports of sexual misconduct in the current academic year up to 5 January 2021. In that same period, 28 of the reports spoke to an advisor.
Reporting cases through Report and Support does not trigger any type of formal reporting process. Other universities in the UK also use a similar Report and Support portal, including the University of Manchester, University College London and the University of York.
In the academic years 2016/2017 and 2020/2021, 53 cases of alleged sexual misconduct were reported directly to campus security.
In the same academic years, there were between 42 and 45* formal reports of alleged sexual misconduct submitted at either stage 2 or stage 3 of the University’s Student Complaints Resolution Procedure by an undergraduate student.
Of those cases that were formally reported, between 10 and 16 cases were proven and between two and eight were not proven after a Discipline Committee hearing. Some cases for 2020/2021 are still active and the proceedings have not yet concluded.
We have met with representatives from the university including from the Report and Support team. They have listened to our requests and we will be seeing changes in the structure of the wellbeing sector of the university this term
– Shame On You Warwick
The data noted: “Several formally reported complaints were either withdrawn or did not progress to a Discipline Committee hearing and therefore, are not captured in the figures provided above.”
In November 2020, a petition was launched calling on the University to take better action against sexual assault cases. One of the demands of the petition was for greater guidance from the University on how students can get support to report sexual assault cases. The petition now has over 60,000 signatures.
Following the petition, a protest was held on campus, led by Shame On You Warwick in solidarity with the demands of the petition.
Since the protest, Shame On You Warwick have met with representatives from Warwick Students’ Union (SU) and the University, including from the Report and Support team.
In an Instagram post, the campaigners said: “We have met with representatives from the university including from the Report and Support team. They have listened to our requests and we will be seeing changes in the structure of the wellbeing sector of the university this term.
“We are part of a Student Advisory Group with Report and Support, who we will meet with once a month to follow-up on our demands.
“Warwick is reforming its team of sexual violence advisors at the moment. We expect this change to take place in March. CRASAC will be available as a resource to students regardless of this decision.”
In the recent Warwick SU All Student Vote, three of the motions that passed included: Review into Sexual Violence Resource Allocation; Sexual Violence Prevention Training and Support Student Sex Workers.
There are some students who will have missed half of the past year. They will need to catch up in subject knowledge and also in study skills
– University of Warwick
The University of Warwick commented: “Our policy on sexual misconduct is clear – it will not be tolerated. Complaints are always investigated and reported to the police and other agencies where appropriate.
“Individuals who are found to have broken our values, either by the police or by our own comprehensive disciplinary processes, will face sanctions – which include expulsion or withdrawal from the university.
“Everyone has the right to feel safe and supported at Warwick. Through the Student Advisory Group on Sexual Misconduct, the University, Students’ Union and students involved in the protest and petition are working in partnership to tackle these issues. The group meets each month to understand students’ feedback and to identify and take forward action to improve services.
“Report and Support was promoted on MyWarwick, during live chats in Welcome Week, at the online Living at University Fair, by Wellbeing Support Services and as part of free workshops for club and society exec members run by the University’s Student Liaison. We are currently running regular weekly sessions with the student liaison officer team for staff and students to find out more about it.
“We are committed to making it more visible online and on campus, so that everyone in our community is aware of what support is available and is encouraged to use it should they need to. Suggestions about how we can further promote and accelerate this are welcomed by the University, along with the Student Advisory Group, as we continue to listen and continuously improve.
“Prevention and awareness raising are also critical to our approach. We are working with all academic departments to incorporate active bystander support training for all new students from the next academic year. Staff are attending training sessions on the impact of sexual misconduct on individuals, as well as how to respond to disclosures, and how to signpost to members of our community to Report and Support.
“We recognise that there is always more we can do. We wish to thank all those who are working with us to help prevent sexual misconduct, support students and staff who are affected by this, and how we deal with those who do not behave appropriately.”
*The University declined to provide the actual figures for some academic years on the grounds that the numbers are very small and could potentially lead to the identification of individuals which is why the figure is a range. Where the figures were small, the University wrote <5 in the data. The data for formal complaints may include cases that were also already reported through the Report and Support portal or those reported directly to campus security.