Image: Geograph / Bill Nicholls

Campaigners advocate the importance of sharing rape allegations between universities

Advocates have warned that universities must inform each other when a student has been accused of rape, in light of the Oxford Brookes sex abuse scandal.

TW: rape and sexual assault

A 19-year-old student at Oxford Brookes has claimed four international athletes gang-raped her in February 2018. Three of the male students were expelled, with the remaining student suspended for a term. However, no criminal charges were bought towards any of them. Everyone’s Invited, a media platform for individuals to share instances of rape and sexual assault, has highlighted concerns that students accused but not convicted of serious crimes are going unnoticed.  

We believe there needs to be a system in place, so that any complaints of serious misconduct are shared between institutions

– Everyone’s Invited

A spokesperson said: “We believe there needs to be a system in place, so that any complaints of serious misconduct are shared between institutions.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

While applicants to UK universities are not required to inform the university of criminal records, some courses such as education do conduct disclosure and barring service (DBS) checks on prior convictions. Any international student with a previous criminal record must disclose the relevant information to the Home Office during the visa application process.   

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Additionally, it has come to light that one of the four accused in the Oxford Brookes scandal was under investigation in America following two rape allegations. A female athlete at the University of Oxford alleged that she was raped by an athlete last year, and believed it was well known in the community that the university had admitted the American student who was not convicted of any offences regarding the allegations against him. 

Universities are enabling this behaviour, and endangering women as a result

– Oxford student

She said: “The fact this has now happened is hardly surprising. Universities are enabling this behaviour, and endangering women as a result. Why take the risk and give these people places? Is it worth it just to win sporting events? It is putting female students at risk of harm.                                                                                                    

 

“It was well known at the time that this student had been kicked out of university in the US because it’s claimed he had filmed somebody [who was having sex without their consent]. I am sure Oxford Brookes knew about it, because we all knew about it in the Oxford sporting community.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

“We were not comfortable with this guy, and the authorities didn’t do anything about it. We asked why he had been let into Oxford Brookes when he had been kicked out of his American university. But it wasn’t a priority for them. I believe they just wanted to win.”                 

               

A spokesperson for Oxford Brookes University said: “Sexual violence and harassment has no place at Oxford Brookes. When incidents are brought to our attention, we do all that we can to ensure that the allegations are investigated thoroughly, and support is provided to the students involved.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

“We can confirm that in February 2018, the university received allegations relating to sexual violence involving a number of our students. These allegations were thoroughly investigated in accordance with the university’s processes, appropriate liaison with the police took place, and our internal conduct procedures were completed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

“Appropriate penalties, including the most severe penalties available to the university in relation to some of the students, were applied and were upheld on appeal.

We recognise the very distressing nature of the allegations. Throughout the process, the university liaised with specialist support services to ensure that those most closely affected were supported

– Oxford Brookes University

“We recognise the very distressing nature of the allegations. Throughout the process, the university liaised with specialist support services to ensure that those most closely affected were supported.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

“In line with practices across the higher education sector in England, Oxford Brookes conducts criminal records (DBS) checks on students applying to courses such as teaching and healthcare. Students applying for a place in university-managed accommodation are also asked to declare any relevant convictions.                                                                                                                                                                                                       

“Our terms and conditions of enrolment, to which all students agree before they commence study, stipulate that we may withdraw students from their programme of study if they fail to declare information, or if there is a change in their circumstances that makes it inappropriate for them to continue their studies. This includes relevant criminal convictions.”

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