TW: Sexual Violence
The University of Warwick has released a statement on the piazza protests, saying that “we know there is more we can do to support our community and to tackle sexual misconduct”.
The statement was released this afternoon, and outlines their plans for tackling sexual violence across campus, and said: “We welcomed the ideas put forward by the students who have been protesting this week in the piazza and have held constructive discussions with them on the range of concerns they have raised.”
The statement also outline some of the measures and funding already in place. It said: “There are many areas where we are in broad agreement and where improvements were already in progress or implemented. But there are others where they have rightly challenged us to do more – such as engaging more widely on the training we develop, and enhancing the physical safety of campus.
“We have invited them to work with us through the Student Advisory Group to continue to tackle these issues together. Feedback from our community is vital to help us understand experiences, develop services and make improvements – and we encourage people to keep sharing their thoughts, views and concerns with us.
“We do this through regular student surveys, weekly student focus groups and working with the SU. We will be exploring more ways for students to share their experiences and views with us.
“We take this issue extremely seriously and invest £2.6m each year to continuously improve our wellbeing provision – representing £90 per student per year.
“We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct or any other form of harassment, or knows someone who has, to access support through the University’s online disclosure platform Report and Support.”
The organisers of the sit-in first met with the university at 2pm on 22 March. The protest began at 4pm on Thursday 4 March, with a current total duration of over 165 hours. At the peak of the sit-in, it is estimated there were over 400 protestors gathered in the piazza.
Following that meeting, the protestors announced on their instagram story: “So we are staying here and currently waiting on a more specific email […] but we will definitely be here for a while longer considering how half-hearted the response and effort seems to be from the Uni, we made it clear we will be escalating our protest and taking any and all necessary means.”
It was then announced that were their list of demands not met, they would resort to ‘extreme measures’. They said: “We are 100% committed to sitting in until we are satisfied, other methods we are considering will be made public shortly.”
The organisers then hosted a second meeting with the university on Tuesday afternoon. University staff in attendance included the Registrar, Director of Wellbeing and Safeguarding, and other officials including campus security, according to the official instagram page of Protect Warwick Women.
Protect Warwick Women published an official list of demands on 22 March. They stated that: “The current sit-in protest will not end until a public statement is emailed to all students and published online that indicates the University agrees to and intends to implement every demand on this list before 1 September 2021”.
Among their demands, the protestors have argued in favour of more widespread training across the university, for staff, students, the Residential Life Team (RLT), and security regarding sexual violence and consent. They argue that this requires “active participation in order to ensure that all information must but understood”.
They have also demanded signposted safe spaces on campus for students, the option of “immediate pastoral care rather that security/enforcement in the event of sexual assault”, and a reform of the disciplinary procedures that handle sexual assault cases at the University.
The list of demands was written as a collaboration between Protect Warwick Women, Shame On You Warwick, It Happens Here, Warwick Anti-Sexism Society, and the current and future Women’s Officers at Warwick Students’ Union (Warwick SU).
The University has been contacted for a further comment in light of recent developments.