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Warwick student on the University handling of her sexual assault case

A student who was under investigation by the University of Warwick for an alleged sexual assault continued to be employed by Terrace Bar in Warwick’s Students’ Union.

TW: Sexual misconduct

An anonymous student at the University of Warwick has chosen to speak out to The Boar  about the University’s handling of sexual misconduct proceedings against her alleged assailant, and the victim alleged that he continued to be employed at a bar in the Warwick’s Students’ Union during the course of the investigation. 

The student alleges that when her sexual misconduct proceedings were held, her assaulter was also in the Microsoft Teams meeting listening to her give her statements: “We were both in that Teams meeting the whole time. We both saw each other talking and answering questions and giving statements. It was so uncomfortable.”

In response to this allegation, the University of Warwick has said: “Should the complaint progress to a disciplinary hearing held by the University, survivors can choose whether and how they would like to participate. Some survivors choose to provide an impact statement and not attend proceedings, others wish to take part in hearings. 

This is always determined in discussion with the survivor and agreement with the Chair to respect the survivor’s wishes. This would also always include, for example, ensuring that the survivor and the individual responding to the claim are never in face-to-face contact during disciplinary proceedings, either virtually or in person.”

The student added:“It was just really frustrating seeing him. He was literally lying the whole time, and the University acknowledged that he was lying because he was so inconsistent. Even in his interviews, and as well as in the disciplinary hearing.”

We were both in that Teams meeting the whole time. We both saw each other talking and answering questions and giving statements. It was so uncomfortable

– Anonymous Warwick Student
 

The University of Warwick added: “A thorough investigation is undertaken by an independent external investigator. A comprehensive range of evidence can be considered as part of a disciplinary process, including witness statements and information held by the University such as CCTV footage.”

The victim said that when she was in first year, she was placed into a Rootes block, where she met the said individual accused.

The student said: ““He had this book – it was quite disgusting and there was like a whole chapter on how you isolate the victim and he often quoted it.”

The student also told The Boar that he exposed himself in their kitchen, and alleges that the man involved would force himself on other students, calling it a “game”.

On another night, she said that the individual pressured her into having sexual relations, which she did not wish to engage in: “I just said no, I remember saying no more than once – he was asking quite a few times trying to push, and I know I definitely said no.

This incident was then followed by harassment, where the student describes the individual knocking on her door multiple times a day, putting his hands through her window, and pestering her repeatedly for inappropriate photos via social media. 

The individual accused is alleged to have worked within Warwick Students’ Union, where he received furlough pay over the course of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Once the student decided to report her experiences to the University in November, she said she did not have a disciplinary hearing until April, and she said that her hearing was dismissed due to “missing evidence”. 

Reflecting on the alleged sexual misconduct, the student said: “I stopped talking to him after that. I actually fell apart after that. I didn’t go out clubbing, I stopped talking to people, I didn’t go anywhere. 

“I hadn’t even told anyone. I didn’t know what to say to anyone. I was quite humiliated by some of the stuff he’d make me do and it was just awful.”

A thorough investigation is undertaken by an independent external investigator. A comprehensive range of evidence can be considered as part of a disciplinary process, including witness statements and information held by the University such as CCTV footage

– University of Warwick
 

She added that the disciplinary hearing gave her “conflicting information”, and when giving information about the incident, “they told me that there was key evidence missing. What key evidence?” 

After the hearing, the University stated that a non-contact agreement must be put in place between the two individuals. The student contended that she received packages addressed to the individual accused to her address. She said this happened a day or two after the hearing. 

When contacted for a comment by The Boar, the University of Warwick said: “Our policy on sexual misconduct is clear – it will not be tolerated. 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 survivors.

“They can report anonymously if they prefer. We deal robustly with all cases reported to us. Complaints are always investigated and reported to the police and other agencies where appropriate and with the survivor’s agreement. 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 from the University.

“We recognise that it can feel extremely challenging for survivors to come forward. Within 48 working hours of contacting Report and Support, a trained Student Liaison Officer will get in touch to provide support, talk through the options available and be a dedicated point of contact from that point until graduation.

“This includes situations where the survivor decides not to pursue a complaint. As we also have a duty of care to those who are responding to a claim of sexual misconduct, we provide appropriate support for those individuals too.”

The University of Warwick’s sexual misconduct procedures state : “Our University Principles make clear that we do not tolerate sexual misconduct, violence or abuse (Principle 3). They also make clear that we are committed to providing a campus environment in which all members of our community feel safe and are respected.

“We are committed to preventing and eliminating all forms of sexual misconduct.”

When contacted for a comment, Warwick SU said: “Warwick Students’ Union is committed to reducing incidents of sexual misconduct, and making campus safer for all, through campaigns such as #WeGetConsent, promoting the University’s Report and Support service, encouraging students and staff to participate in Active Bystander Intervention courses, and representing students’ voices and concerns to make changes to University policies and processes.

“In addition, all SU Venue and Outlet Managers and Supervisors have attended Good Night Out training, which is aimed at helping organisations to better understand, respond to, and prevent sexual harassment and assault.

“We will continue to lobby the University to improve their own staff training, deliver harsher sanctions at disciplinary panels, and accept more student representation on committees directly related to sexual misconduct.

“When the University instigates an investigation into a student, the SU only becomes aware if the University informs us about it. This usually only happens if the respondent participates in club or society activities, and the University believes the student will be a risk to other students involved in these activities.

Warwick Students’ Union is committed to reducing incidents of sexual misconduct, and making campus safer for all

–  Warwick SU
 

“The University also contacts us if they believe we should issue a Partial Precautionary Suspension to limit students’ attendance at SU events and venues. Currently, we are not regularly informed directly if a student being investigated is a staff member. However, we will ask the University to inform us of this going forwards.

“With regard to the specific case referred to here, an SU investigation is currently underway, and, as such, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment on that at this time.

“We would advise any students who are survivors of sexual misconduct to use the Report and Support service, contact the SU Advice Centre, or seek support from University Wellbeing Support Services. Anyone who believes a member of SU staff has acted inappropriately whilst working should submit a complaint to the SU’s HR Team, and this will be dealt with in line with our HR policies.”

If you have been affected by matters similar to those alleged in this article, there are many places you can turn to for support. Warwick Wellbeing Support Services are available through the Wellbeing Portal, online, or over the phone. Warwick’s Report and Support services can be used to report incidences of sexual misconduct and other cases of discrimination. NHS Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust are offering online or over the phone urgent support for anyone suffering from mental health issues. More information can be found on their website. Charities such as MIND also have information, guidance and support available online. 

Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (CRASAC) can be contacted via email (helpline@crasac.org.uk) or via their helpline (024 7627 7777) for those seeking urgent advice or support. Blue Sky Centre Coventry offers a 24/7 helpline (0800 970 0370) and more information can be found on their website.

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