• Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

Societies publish open letter condemning university’s handling of sexual violence on campus

ByLucy Jackson

Feb 16, 2024
People holding banner saying 'Am I next?'

CW: Sexual violence

Several student societies have published an open letter condemning the University of Edinburgh’s “mishandling” of sexual violence cases on campus.

The Feminist Society (FemSoc), Sex?On Campus! and Girl*Up published the letter on Monday, addressing the conduct and management of the Equally Safe team – the first point of contact for students who report sexual violence on campus – as well as “inadequate care” towards survivors.

The open letter coincides with a week of action to commemorate two years since the first demonstration against the university’s handling of sexual violence cases took place.

Since then, those behind the letter argue nothing has changed, as activists prepare to protest on Friday to pressure the university to take action.

The open letter includes a list of demands to be met by the university, including: the equal right to appeal for both the reporter and the accused; full transparency during an investigation, which prioritises the survivor’s safety; mandatory consent workshops, and; the creation of a student-led regulatory body to evaluate the handling of investigations.

Syjil, the President of FemSoc, told The Student that the letter was written “because there has been a longstanding breakdown in communication” between the university and students.

She continued: “When the same protest has to be held, demanding the same changes, for three consecutive years, it is clear that the University of Edinburgh is reluctant or perhaps unwilling to change.

“We don’t want to be placated, we don’t want simple apologies, we want accountability for the survivors the university has traumatised, we want justice, and we want change.

“This open letter is a call to do better, and do it now.”

Read More: Students protest the university’s sexual violence redressal system

Responding to the open letter, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh told The Student:

“We understand the strength of feeling on this issue and we fully recognise the responsibility the university has in tackling violence, abuse and harassment on our campuses.

“We want to make it clear that any reports made to us are taken very seriously and we have processes in place to enable us to investigate these thoroughly, transparently and in a supportive way for all involved.

“We do not discourage or prevent students from reporting any incident to the police and we will actively provide information and guidance for those who wish to do so.

“We continue to explore ways of improving our support and we will not stop until everyone in our community feels safe and protected.”

Read More: Less than half of sexual misconduct cases upheld by university, FOI reveals

The protest against the university’s handling of sexual violence cases on campus is set to take place on 9 February, 11am at Bristo Square.

Students can sign the open letter here.

Anyone affected by the topics raised in this article can seek help from the following resources:

Image via Lucy Jackson