UK universities still failing students, says Warwick rape case legal team, as Everyone’s Invited publishes list of rape culture testimonies
On Wednesday Everyone’s Invited, an anti-rape culture movement by students, published a list of universities mentioned in testimonies it has received from thousands of students. Exeter and Oxford top the list, which also includes Yale University in the United States.
Georgina Calvert-Lee, head of UK practice at McAllister Olivarius, who represented two victims of the Warwick University rape chat scandal, said: “Universities have a duty to provide an education and campus free of discrimination, sexual harassment and, of course, sexual violence. They have a duty of care to protect their students and staff from foreseeable harm.
“We have been putting universities on notice of the sexual harassment and violence taking place within their communities, on and off campus, in-person and online, for years, through lawsuits, conversations and even by publishing a guidance for the sector, with the 1752 Group. Some have improved; some have not; but the pace of change is far too slow. If they had moved faster, then some of the people behind these testimonials might have been protected.”
“I applaud Soma Sara for providing a space in which brave people can finally shine light on the discriminatory treatment they have had to endure. Universities are publicly on notice now and must act now to improve their culture and the way they handle complaints and treat complainants.”
Ann Olivarius, founder of McAllister Olivarius and an American-British lawyer with experience of winning university sexual harassment civil cases in the US and the UK, said: “I started my career in law because of the sexual violence I saw on campus at Yale. I’ve fought this fight my whole life. To see Yale University listed by students again, decades later, among so many other universities, shows the vast scope of this problem.
“Until now, universities have been able to isolate and silence their students, with byzantine and glacially slow complaints processes, sweeping the problem under the carpet. That time is over. Students are collaborating and comparing notes and they’re using social media to start this conversation. Universities must join them.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Georgina Calvert-Lee and Ann Olivarius are available for media interviews.
McAllister Olivarius specialises in supporting survivors of sexual violence, harassment and assault in higher education, most recently representing female students in the Warwick Rape Chat case and winning a $10 million settlement from the University of Rochester in the U.S. on behalf of clients who brought a sexual harassment claim.
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