Image: The Boar News/ Eden Fall-Bailey

Warwick student protestors have occupied the piazza in a sit-in to raise awareness on sexual assault

Student protestors at the University of Warwick have occupied the piazza in a sit-in since 4pm Thursday 18 March, in a protest organised by Shame on You Warwick and Protect Warwick Women. 

The protestors, who have occupied the piazza for over 36 hours have stated that they are protesting to raise awareness about sexual assault and the harassment of women on Warwick campus, and they will continue to occupy the piazza until they have received a statement from the University responding to their demands for change.

Protect Warwick Women have said that they will not leave the piazza until the University have responded to their demands, including installing an independent sexual assault advisor within the Students’ Union, reviewing staff training on preventing and managing sexual assault, and yearly contributions to sexual assault survivor charities.

Organisers of the protest formed Protect Warwick Women and publicised the sit-in through social media, attracting over 400 students to gather in the piazza at the peak of the sit-in.

When contacted for a comment, Shame on You Warwick stated “we wanted to create a safe space for all of us to reflect on events of the past week and to consider what we need to do moving forward. 

 

Action needs to be taken, not by women, but by men, in order to ensure women can live without fear.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                            – Shame on You Warwick

“We have made the university aware countless times of the actions we require them to take in order to make campus safe and support victims of sexual violence.

“Action needs to be taken, not by women, but by men, in order to ensure women can live without fear.” 

Shoshana Beach, a student protestor who attended the sit-in said “It was a really wonderful thing to see a community come together and support each other, especially when the University cannot.”

Protect Warwick Women, the organisers of the sit-in stated “We were inspired to organise [the protest] it as many people came forward about their experiences. Sarah Everard’s death has also brought the issue of sexual violence to a boiling point.

“We’re asking that the University prioritise safety over reputation”.

When contacted for a comment, the University of Warwick said: “Our policy on sexual misconduct is clear – it will not be tolerated. 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. We believe the most effective way to tackle this issue is by working in close partnership with the Student Advisory Group on Sexual Misconduct, which includes the University, the Students’ Union as well as members of our student community to discuss student feedback and to identify and implement improvements.

“Prevention and awareness raising are 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, as well as with the Students’ Union, societies, and sports clubs on their own awareness campaigns and disclosure referral training. Staff are attending training sessions on the impact of sexual misconduct on individuals, as well as how to respond to disclosures.

“We strongly encourage anyone who has experienced sexual misconduct to contact Report and Support (available here: https://reportandsupport.warwick.ac.uk/) so that we can take action and support victims. They can report anonymously if they prefer. Individuals can access Report and Support through the website, and can be signposted via contacting their personal tutors, wellbeing support service staff, resident tutors, campus security staff or SU staff. A trained Student Liaison Officer will get in touch to provide support within 48 hours.

“We are also currently running regular weekly sessions with the student liaison officer team for staff and students to find out more about Report and Support and we are committed to making it more visible online and on campus. Suggestions about how we can further promote and accelerate this are welcomed by the University.

“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 and how we deal with those who do not behave appropriately.”

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