An Open Letter To Students Following the Warwick Group Chat Scandal

Dear Students,

Viral messages from Warwick University group chat – making jokes about raping girls amid other racist, sexist and homophobic comments – are an embarrassment to any male student, and should be condemned.

As a male student at the University of Nottingham, I was incensed to discover the screenshots from a Warwick group chat regarding fellow female students at the university. I know I’m not the only one.

11 Warwick students were initially suspended from the University of Warwick for their participation in a group chat plagued by racist, sexist and homophobic comments such as “sometimes it’s fun to just go wild and rape 100 girls”. In an array of screenshots made public in May 2018, the theme of sexual violence and deeply misogynistic views persisted.

These nauseating messages, and culture of toxic masculinity, have no place at university.

 Perhaps most shockingly, one participant – nicknamed ‘Grenfell’ – stated that “I’m going to go all 1945 advancing soviet army on her and rape her in the street whilst everyone watches.” No respectable male student should tolerate this despicable sentiment. And where was the outcry from the rest of the group? No male group chat should tolerate comments as heinous as these.

The disturbing screenshots, which also include messages such as – “What do we do with girls? RAAAAAAAAAPE” – have resurfaced recently after two students’ 10 year ban from the campus was reduced to just one year, following their appeal.

The fact that these students appealed tells you everything. Just ask yourself: do these young men really seem rehabilitated, remorseful, having taken accountability for their actions?

The University of Warwick has faced huge backlash in recent days, with hundreds of university students marching on campus this Wednesday to protest the university’s handling of this scandal.

In addition, over 70,000 students – myself included – have signed a petition to have all participants involved in the chat banned from the university for good.

“The vulgar nature of these messages far exceeds what should be deemed appropriate”

As a male student at university with group chats of my own, this sort of rhetoric is alarming to say the least. While it is not unusual for girls to be a topic of conversation in one of these chats, the vulgar nature of these messages far exceeds what should be deemed appropriate for any conversation.

However students with these malevolent views are still out there, and it is imperative that this culture is removed in its entirity. Many male students I have spoken to on the matter agree that these comments, and the culture that pertains to this group, must be condemned. Toxic masculinity is a cancer – and it’s our responsibility to put an end to it.

Regardless of which participants of this chat said what, all members of this chat should be expelled from the university, and banned from the campus indefinitely. The University of Warwick has already stated that the suspended students ‘won’t return’, with Pro-Chancellor David Normington admitting that this behaviour was ‘abhorrent and unacceptable’, but is this enough? 

This culture has no place at Warwick, Nottingham, or any university. Surely this is an appropriate measure in order to remove this repulsive culture from the university campus. If not, this cycle of toxic masculinity will be allowed to continue, putting many students – mainly female – at risk. Even the ‘quieter’ members of the group were complicit with the comments, failing time and time again to expose their fellow group members.

And as a question to any male reader who isn’t yet outraged by these messages, would your reaction be any different if your sister, friend, or girlfriend was the victim?

“Complicity with this culture is part of the problem”

The University of Nottingham should also have zero tolerance of this culture, and of toxic masculinity. As a male student here, I will accept my own responsibility in trying to alleviate such behaviour. Complicity with this culture is part of the problem. Warwick’s decision to reduce the punishment for these sexist students fuels this sort of behaviour; punishing them as severely as possible would send out a clear message. We can’t let students who engage in such conduct simply get away with it.

“Toxic masculinity is a cancer”

For any male readers involved in a similar group chat where such inexcusable statements are made: challenge them. And if still these messages are still not alarming to you, you’re part of the problem. Banter is one thing, but somewhere you have to draw the line. Toxic masculinity is a cancer – and it’s our responsibility to put an end to it.

Female students at this university should not be targeted by pathetic group chats such as these, and should not be made to feel unsafe on their own campus.

The student community must unite against this culture. Toxic masculinity is a cancer – and it’s our responsibility to put an end to it.

Yours sincerely,

Rory Jones


Rory Jones

Featured image courtesy of  Backbone Campaign via Flickr. Image license found here.

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