Justice for Hate Crime @ Uni Essex

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We are deeply concerned with the University of Essex’s persistent failure to deal with harassment at an institutional level and apply their Zero Tolerance to harassment and hate crime policy. 

A colleague of ours was subjected to multiple incidents of hate crime perpetrated by a member of the University of Essex School of Law who was also her flatmate. These hate crimes were a clear demonstration of racial discrimination, Islamophobia and sexism and continued over a period of time.
During the first incident, the perpetrator also physically assaulted our colleague, which made our colleague feeling extremely unsafe in her own home. As a result, she was forced to look for new accommodation and was without a safe place to go home to for 40 days.
The incident was properly reported through the central University complaints mechanism.
After several months and a lack of clear and transparent communication between those in the University Administration assessing the claim and the parties involved in the incident, the claim was ultimately rejected by the University Proctor.
This outcome reveals an implicit bias in the way the University assesses allegations of hate crimes, where it fails to pay adequate attention or demonstrate concern for the unique experiences faced by students who have been subjected to racism on our campus.

Following this harassment incident perpetrated by a member of the Essex University School of Law, we consider that the University Administration has failed to:

  1. Provide adequate support services to our colleague in the aftermath of the incident that did not require her to deal with burdensome paperwork when she was in a situation of distress.
  2. Ensure a transparent process during the assessment of the claim for those involved in the complaint.
  3. Provide sufficient redress to our peer/colleague for the harassment she experienced.

As human rights students who have chosen to study at this institution because of its strong reputation in this field, we are particularly concerned about the University’s failure to decisively condemn this incident. And it is especially crucial that WE as the Human Rights Centre do not appear to condone discrimination, harassment or hate crimes in any form.

 For these reasons, we demand the following:

  1. The university must publicly reiterate its commitment to applying a zero tolerance policy to harassment and hate crimes.
  2. Beyond re-stating its zero-tolerance policy, the University Administration must also establish clear measures in terms of what sanctions it will apply in response to any hate crime to ensure these do not go unpunished (see for example, SOAS policy).
  3. The complaints mechanism must be reformed to ensure better transparency in communication throughout all stages of the process to the parties involved in the complaint. The claim for this case in particular must also be re-opened and reviewed.
  4. As the perpetrator is in a position of authority within the Human Rights Centre, we demand that they be removed altogether of all positions involving responsibility or supervision towards any student, or at the very least suspended until following proper and extensive anger management and sensitivity training.