Student Uproar Over Warwick Group Chat

Warwick has faced a national backlash from students after reneging on their disciplinary decision last June to ban two students of five from campus for 10 years. In June, two of the other male students were suspended for one year, while another was banned from campus for life.

This article contains reference to propositions of sexual violence.

In June, two of the other male students were suspended for one year, while another was banned from campus for life.

The two men were engaged in a group chat which repeatedly threatened acts of sexual violence towards individual women on campus, and invoked antisemitism, racism and homophobia. But they will be permitted to return to campus this September.

In an online statement, Warwick have said:

“The police were consulted at the very start of the process and they reviewed the material. They decided that there were no matters in which they could bring any charges and that they were content for the University investigation to proceed.

“It was the appeals panel that led to a revisiting and amendment of the original decision regarding the two men. This focused not on “culpability” but the “scale of the penalties”: “there were clear reasons to require that the punishments imposed should be comparable across all of those individuals sanctioned by the major disciplinary process.

“The men allowed to return to campus will be subject to further conditions: “future behavioural restrictions and a requirement to engage in processes to enable them to learn from their past unacceptable behaviours.”

Warwick’s Vice-Chair Professor Stuart Croft stated on 1 Feb: “When any student is convicted of a disciplinary offence, that is not an end to our duty of care, in the same way in which the state has a duty of care to someone convicted and punished.”

He later added: “Support was offered to the complainants and others affected at the time and that support continues to be available. We are reaching out specifically to the complainants through our Students’ Union and our Wellbeing Support Services team to offer support.”

The Tab published the names of the four men confirmed during the investigatory process to have been members of the chat, and faced either sanctions or lifetime bans.

Warwick’s SU President, Liam Jackson has said: “We remain shocked by the content of the group chat, and our stance continues to be that sexism, racism and oppression of any kind have no place within our community”. His official stance is that the current disciplinary procedures be amended.

Croft’s statement added: “We intend to review our disciplinary processes to ensure they are fit to cope with the complexity of such processes. This commitment was made at an earlier meeting of the University’s Senate. We will ensure sexual misconduct is considered specifically as part of our review of disciplinary processes.”

A petition, calling for a permanent ban to the two students and started by first-year student Lucy Mooring, has reached 55,000 signatures (correct at time of publication).

Jacob Kinsella, a first-year and ex-LSE student, told The Beaver: “It has almost completely destroyed the relationship of trust between university and the student body. The big attraction of Warwick is the safety of the bubble compared to city unis like LSE – that is gone and a lot of people are now unsure about their ability to continue at Warwick if these men return.”

“As a former LSE student, I am deeply saddened by the fact that I moved away from a central, city uni to a campus uni, and now feel much less safe than I did at LSE.”

Last year, Exeter University expelled a student over a group chat containing racist, homophobic and misogynistic content and Nottingham University investigated a misogynist incident in one halls of residence. However, the 2018 report The Student Room and Revolt Sexual Assault released indicates sexual assault is a much wider issue. 62% of all respondents and 72% of female respondents (students and graduates) say they experienced sexual violence, and 8% of female respondents say they have been raped. Overall, only 16% of all students believe incidents of sexual violence are regularly discussed.

Above are screenshots from the group chat.

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