A Response to Marco Garcia Mendez

Editor’s Note – “In light of the ongoing allegations that have been made against the University of Edinburgh’s sexual violence redressal system, Aarti Mukhedkar has allowed us to publish a statement written by her.

In the past week, The Student published an interview in which, Marco Garcia Mendez – who ran in the recent EUSA Presidential elections – was permitted to comment on his involvement with Aarti’s case that was taken to the complaints system.

Mendez sat on the committee that overturned Aarti’s case and has responded to claims of a conflict of interest wherein he knew of Aarti herself and her peers prior to the decision being made. Mendez has since been met with an onslaught of verbal abuse and criticism, and adamantly denied all claims.  

Aarti has been persistent in her efforts to address the University’s system that has failed her, and in doing so hopes to improve it for future survivors of sexual violence.  

Her following statement is an opportunity to shine a light on both sides of the story. In doing so she highlights a system that disproportionately favours the accused over victims of abuse and equally dissuades readers from attacking those involved. The system is at fault and Aarti’s campaigning efforts and this statement testify to such.” – Maisy Bextor, Voices Editor.

Aarti Mukhedkar’s Statement –

Response to Marco Garcia Mendez

A couple of mistakes Marco made in his interview:

  1. I did not say that he made the decision to overturn my case. I said, very explicitly, that he was on the committee that made that decision.
  2. He saw me before the hearing, and spoke with my friends, who were his acquaintances at the time. We made small talk. He did not raise this to the committee or to anyone, he should have.

Let me summarize the two main points that I made in my statement against him. 1. He chooses to be part of the system we are campaigning to fix 2. He did not raise the conflict of interest with either me or the committee (interacting with me, even briefly, and being acquainted with my friends is most definitely a conflict of interest, I don’t need to be a lawyer to know that).

My problem with Marco running for president, is that I believe he is part of the apparatus of an oppressive system. He is not individually responsible for my case, or the number of cases that get thrown out, but he is part of that system. No one on that committee was kind to me. Marco Garcia did not say anything when I was faced with questions like “why were you on social media after the incident?”. Instead, he remained silent and chose to be part of that meeting, and the many other meetings conducted that hurt survivors with invasive questioning: that is a conscious choice he is making.

I do not encourage anyone to approach Marco in public either verbally or physically: that is not how we do things. I do not encourage any form of harassment or vandalism: as someone who has experienced violence firsthand, I do not ask anyone to engage in violent behaviour. My campaign does ask you to be angry, but we need to utilise that anger and make it productive: violence has no place in my campaign. Instead, take Marco up on his request for people to engage with him in conversation about the functioning of the SDC, force him to substantiate his claims, ask why he wants to sit by and watch cases being treated unjustly, ask why he takes part in representing unfair decisions. Speak to him, ask him questions. The truth will speak much louder than anything else.

To read Marco Garcia Mendez’s interview click here

To sign Aarti Mukhedkar’s petition to change the University of Edinburgh’s redressal system, click here

Image Courtesy of Aarti Mukhedkar