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#ShameOnYouWarwick

Francesca Hadland investigates the month's timeline of events surrounding the #ShameOnYouWarwick Scandal by gaining insight from current University of Warwick students

Breaking – Warwick university has confirmed that students banned over rape threats will stay banned

To understand the #ShameOnYouWarwick scandal from start to what will hopefully mark the beginning of the end, Impact takes a look at the group chat scandal of last year and the repercussions and effects of the past month. 

“Impact has gone back to the beginning of the scandal to provide you with the context for this renewed anger at the university, and interviewed Warwick students to get their take on the scandal”

Since the news broke last month that students originally banned from Warwick university in 2018 were set to return in the next academic year, there has been outcry from students, staff and the general public alike. Now, however, following a new statement from the university’s vice chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft, that of ‘the two young men concerned…neither of them will be returning to the university’. To fully understand what #ShameOnYouWarwick means, Impact has gone back to the beginning of the scandal to provide you with the context for this renewed anger at the university, and interviewed Warwick students to get their take on the scandal, and the state of the university at this time.

 

From the Beginning

“Warwick University, a place where ‘bullying and harassment are not tolerated’

In May 2018, eleven Warwick university students were temporarily suspended after making rape jokes, and anti-Semitic and racist slurs on a group chat. The boys in the chat, ‘fuck women disrespect them all’, discussed raping female students they knew personally along with many other comments revealed by The Tab and the university’s student newspaper The Boar.

The university’s investigation into the incident concluded in June that one of the students was to be banned from campus for life, two banned for ten years, a further two students fined, penalised and required to withdraw from the university for a year while three others were to be fined and receive disciplinary penalties. The Tab later revealed the identities of some of these students.

However, last month The Boar found in their investigation into the scandal’s aftermath that following an appeals process, two of the originally banned students were set to return next academic year.

 

Being at Warwick

“This has just affirmed that…we still have to fight to be heard even somewhere we think we are safe”

To understand what it has been like as a student at Warwick living with this news over the past month, Impact interviewed an anonymous female student from the university.

How has it felt being on campus at this time? Has it affected how you feel at uni?

It’s less about feeling unsafe on campus and more about being concerned that if anything was to happen to me, the university could be inadequate in resolving any problems; if they can’t tackle something of this magnitude it doesn’t make me confident that if I had a complaint it would be solved effectively. As a woman it’s quite disheartening because I think we have an idyllic view of university being the best years of our lives, but this has just affirmed that structurally women are not taken seriously, that rape culture exists everywhere, and that we still have to fight to be heard even somewhere we think we are safe which is so frustrating.

Do you have any general thoughts on what’s occurred?

It is just disgusting and that is completely the sentiment of everyone I’ve spoken to about it. There have been some more accusations against one of the boys posted online which goes to show that the sentiment in these messages goes beyond words.

How have other members of the university responded to these events?

It’s a shame it had to be through this, but I think staff and students have really united behind this issue. It’s a really prevalent discussion on campus but there’s only really one narrative – that this punishment was wrong.

A second source, a male member of one of the university’s sports societies also gave his take on the scandal.

“I understand dark humour but there’s some things you don’t joke about and they took it way too far, to the point where girls particularly feel like they’re at risk”

The whole situation is outrageous. The content of the group chat is horrific and the response from the university itself is unacceptable. I understand dark humour but there’s some things you don’t joke about and they took it way too far, to the point where girls particularly feel like they’re at risk. We’ve even spoken about it within the society and everyone agrees that it’s shocking.

 

Taking Action

“Do our lives not matter?”

At the start of this month, Warwick student Lucy Mooring began a change.org petition addressed to the Vice Chancellor of Warwick Stuart Croft and the University itself calling for the prevention of the return of the group chat students back to campus. In the petition’s description, Mooring describes how she is ‘outraged and upset that [her] safety on campus is being disregarded for the future of privileged students.’  Within two days of the petition’s creation, the supporter number hit 50,000 people out of its 75,000-person goal. On Wednesday 6th February, students are set to march for the #ShameOnYouWarwick, demonstrating their disappointment in the university to try and get their voices heard. Interestingly, according to our student source within Warwick, the initial march to ‘’reclaim our campus’ had far fewer people even mark themselves as interested’, compared with this new demonstration against the events of the past month.

 

No Longer Returning

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our community”

A new statement from Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft this evening (February 4th) stated that the two students initially set to return will no longer be returning to the university. Croft stated that ‘we are committed to ensuring the safety of our community’ and that following his talks with the boys today, ‘neither of them will be returning to the university’. Though this news is a positive outcome after the fear that many students have had to live with over the past couple of weeks, it is not quite a victory for the university itself. Our female source stated upon being asked for her thoughts that –

From the statement it sounds like it was the boys’ choice rather than university changing their punishment. So, although I’m glad at the result, it doesn’t change the fact that the university’s investigation process is fundamentally flawed.

Impact can also report that the demonstration to ‘Reclaim Our University’ will still be going ahead on Wednesday.

Francesca Hadland

Featured image courtesy of Sheep purple via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image license found here.

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