Embattled Vice-Chancellor of Warwick University, Stuart Croft, is refusing to stand down amidst calls for his resignation by student protesters who marched on campus last Wednesday.
Hundreds of students descended onto the campus’s piazza on the 6th February to protest the way in which the University has handled the rape chat scandal where several male students encouraged each other to rape specific women enrolled at Warwick.
Last summer, Warwick University’s newspaper, ‘The Boar’, broke the story of a group chat in which boys from across campus made racist, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic comments. One of the men said, ‘r*pe her in the street while everybody watches’, with another replying that it, ‘wouldn’t even be unfair’.
The fresh wave of protests was triggered by a decision to reduce two of the men’s ban from campus from ten years to just one, meaning that they could potentially return in September of this year.
Steffi Felton, Warwick University student
“Did we really have to scream and shout that much for this decision to be made? It’s not good enough”
This development caused widespread outrage amongst students, alumni, and staff at the University.
Steffi Felton, a female student at Warwick, has told The Gryphon that she feels angry at the response of the University, saying that ‘it felt like we didn’t matter at all.’ Although the two boys will now not return, she begs the question, ‘did we really have to scream and shout that much for this decision to be made? It’s not good enough’.
The reinvigorated campaign has led to an independent review of the university’s disciplinary measures, as announced by Warwick’s Pro-Chancellor David Normington on the morning of the protests.
The statement given by Normington and the University Council offered an apology, saying: “We are deeply sorry and understand the distress this has caused the victims of this abuse and the wider impact which we know has been felt by our students and our staff”.
However, this announcement made prior to the protests did little to dent the passionate feeling of injustice felt by the students who marched to the Senate building.
The ‘Reclaim Our University’ group, who organised the demonstration, wrote in the description of the Facebook event: “the University is sending a message [that] this behaviour is acceptable, and the rehabilitation of those who glorify sexual violence is more important than the safety and education of those they seek to attack.”
Similarly, one of the girls who was mentioned on the group chat published an anonymous letter on The Boar expressing her disillusionment with Warwick concluding that, ‘it is only now that your reputation and profits are on the line that you are finally taking this issue seriously’.
The immediate protest over the reduced ban for the students may be over, but Warwick students and staff alike are now looking to tackle the wider problem of “rape culture” within Universities.
Student Steffi Felton says: “[From here] we need to listen and believe every woman who needs to speak out, so that we can continue to raise awareness and be able to say: this is not acceptable, this behaviour will not be tolerated, and you will be punished”.
If you have been affected by any of these issues visit http://www.leeds.ac.uk/secretariat/reporting_hc_sa_oh.html, where advice can be given.