In the Media

Warwick University apologises to women targeted by ‘rape chat’ (The Guardian)


The vice-chancellor of Warwick University has apologised to the female students targeted by a male “rape chat” group after an independent report said the university needed to improve its procedures for dealing with sexual violence and misconduct.

The report by lawyer Sharon Persaud is critical of the university’s handling of the scandal, which erupted last year after the women discovered they had been the subject of violent sexual comments exchanged among a group of male undergraduates.

Two of the men at the centre of the group chat were banned for 10 years but on appeal it was cut to one year, meaning they could return as students before the women had completed their studies. After a public outcry the university announced in February that the pair would not return, and launched the independent review.

In an interview with the Guardian, Stuart Croft, Warwick’s vice-chancellor, said: “The university made mistakes, and I apologise for these. We need to learn from these experiences and as vice-chancellor it is my responsibility to ensure that we improve our processes and be clearer about what we stand for as a community so that this never happens again.”…

… One of the female students targeted in the group chat said Warwick had taken a crucial step by issuing an apology. But she added the matter would not be closed until the university settled the legal case she had brought against it with another of the victims. She said: “For me it is absolutely vital that nobody who comes forward in good faith, in a potentially vulnerable position, goes through what we went through during the university’s investigation into the boys’ chat.”

Georgina Calvert-Lee, the senior counsel at McAllister Olivarius, the law firm representing the two female students bringing the legal action, said: “The report acknowledges that the outcome of Warwick’s process into the group chat was ‘profoundly unsatisfactory’ and that the process itself was flawed and is open to legal challenge. We have brought a legal challenge and currently the university is denying all liability.

“While we welcome Dr Persaud’s report and the prospect of the University of Warwick reforming the ways it handles sexual misconduct complaints in the future, we do hope it will now redress the harm caused to our clients by its flawed processes in the past. That is only reasonable and fair.”