Review and investigation into the safeguarding around sexual violence at the Uni of York

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CW: Sexual Violence

Yet again, the University of York has failed to protect students from the risk of harm. 

For the second time, students and staff have been let down.

We cannot fully express the sadness, anger, and frustration we feel to be in this position again no less than six months after the Joseph McKeown case was publicised. This raises grave concerns about the processes put in place by the University of York to safeguard their staff and students. The University of York has a responsibility to protect and maintain staff and students' safety and well-being. 

The University of York promised that there would be active change when Joseph McKeown was blindly allowed to stay on campus despite his guilty plea, and yet again, the University has failed. There seems to be a missing link in how the University handles cases of sexual violence. Students deserve to know what procedures exist to prevent situations like this from occurring. It is not enough for the University to act only after the assault has happened. They must put systems in place that prevent and protect the staff and student body. This cannot happen again.

York’s measures are reactionary and not preventative. This will continue to happen if students are not included in the conversations surrounding how the university will ensure that this doesn’t happen again. Too often, we are promised dedication to change and, too often, this promise does not come to fruition. The fact that the responsibility has fallen to students to call out and challenge this behaviour identifies how little the university is committed to creating a cultural shift on campus. Do not tell us how the university is “committed to applying the lessons learnt from this case”; show us.

After the Joseph McKeown case, the university promised us change in their response to Imogen Horrocks’ open letter, which circulated in October 2020 and received over 3,000 signatures.

What differences have been made to the policies and procedures surrounding sexual violence?

How has the university been actively making sure that students feel safe on campus?

Universities have to do better.


We have written a petition asking for an internal review and investigation into how the university and its departments handle cases of sexual violence and the measures in place to ensure students are being safeguarded. 


This is more than just an issue at the University of York; this is an issue that Universities across the UK should be addressing. 


We wholeheartedly stand in solidarity with the survivor and all survivors of sexual violence. 


Lastly, if you have been affected by any of the matters listed above, we have attached links to support and resources.


Resources in York:

Report and Support: For students at the University of York to report forms of student misconduct: www.reportandsupport.york.ac.uk 

University of York’s Sexual Violence Liasion Officers: For students at the University of York to access support after experiencing sexual violence, either recent or historical: https://www.york.ac.uk/students/health/advice/sexual-violence/ 

Survive: http://survive-northyorks.org.uk/our-services/ 

Rape Crisis: 0808 802 9999 (12-2.30pm and 7-9.30pm every day of the year)

Bridge House (Sexual Assault Referral Centre): https://www.bridgehousesarc.org/

York Mind: https://www.yorkmind.org.uk/

Supporting Victims in North Yorkshire: https://www.supportingvictims.org/advice/i-or-someone-i-know-has-experienced-domestic-abuse/?ref=71 Advice line: 0808 168 9293

The Sanctuary: 0300 003 7029


Resources that can provide support nationally:

Refuge: Freephone 24/7 helpline: 0808 2000 247

https://www.refuge.org.uk/get-help-now/support-for-women/

https://www.refuge.org.uk/our-work/our-services/

https://www.nationaldahelpline.org.uk/ (this is linked to Refuge but also has an online chat option)

Women's Aid: https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/

Email helpline: helpline@womensaid.org.uk (https://www.womensaid.org.uk/information-support/help-by-email/)

Galop: (A national organisation that offers advice and support to lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer people who have experienced biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, sexual violence or domestic abuse):

www.galop.org.uk

Domestic Abuse Helpline: 0800 999 5428

Men's Advice Line: www.mensadviceline.org.uk

Phone: 0808 801 0327 (Not 24hr)


Statement Sources:

https://www.yorkvision.co.uk/news/university-tutor-convicted-of-rape/18/02/2021


https://northyorkshire.police.uk/news/calculating-and-manipulative-york-man-sentenced-to-nine-years-in-prison-for-rape/


https://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/19094201.political-activist-university-tutor-fasil-demsash-jailed-rape/


https://yorkmix.com/i-had-my-life-stolen-from-me-york-victim-speaks-out-after-rapist-jailed-for-nine-years/



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