Trigger warning: contains talk of sexual assault and rape.
Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Do you remember the group chat that last year was released revealing students at Warwick University threatening to rape other female students? If you missed it, here’s an excerpt:
Some comments also included how he ‘knew a girl that deserved hair straighteners on her flaps’, and how a woman who had been previously sexually assaulted was ‘not pretty enough for all those things to occur to her’. Other comments included how they ‘needed to be stacked to hold them [freshers]down’, and even had multiple comments embracing racism, anti-Semitism and using racially degrading language.
They were suspended from Warwick University and not allowed to come back for 10 years. It emerged this week, however, that those students will have their ban reduced to 1 year and will be able to return to complete their degree.
Warwick students on Twitter have tweeted using the hashtag #ShameOnYouWarwick for allowing them to come back, after showing “no remorse”, and could be back in the same spaces as the specific students identified in the group chat.
Some have argued that if the boys had been rehabilitated, learned what they said and did was wrong, they should be given a second chance. Others have responded that they showed no remorse and merely were worried about their futures, an argument reminiscent of the recent cases of Brock Turner and Brett Kavanaugh.
We have to question why, in 2019 after so many movements, is there still a culture of shaming women for being raped. We have to question whether universities are doing enough. For example, I find our own University’s handling of the case of a previously convicted paedophile who continues to study here troubling. This is after finding more images of child porn on his laptop. His defence was ‘sometimes when people are depressed, they turn to porn’. I find it worrying that there has been such a lack of communication about what disciplinary measures were taken.
If it wasn’t clear yet, it is now. Universities are not doing enough to protect victims of sexual abuse and are doing too much to protect their reputations. Students need to stand together to pressure our institutions across the country to do more, to speak out more, to stop being lenient and educate their students. At the end of the day, students’ unions and universities have a duty of care for the students – they charge us, after all, £9,000+ every year. Above all, they have a moral duty to ensure access to support, to ensure there’s a culture of zero tolerance for rape, to ensure that there’s adequate education to stop those going onto rape and sexually assault, and to absolutely condemn the attitudes shown in Warwick’s students.
Sexual Consent Awareness and SUSU are conducting a University-wide survey to get the opinions of all studying here at the University of Southampton. Be a part of the change, and use your voice. Share it. Tell your friends. Help us make a difference. To take the survey, please click here.