TW - Some of the articles linked contain the screenshots from the chat - mention of rape, FGM, racism, ableism, misogyny
#Shameonyouwarwick. Remember that? Remember hearing about a certain group chat? Maybe? In that case, here’s a basic summary.
Disclaimer: I am a student who studied at Warwick at the time. Some of the events mentioned in this article are what I witnessed first-hand. I have tried to piece everything together as accurately as I can, but there may be things that I’ve accidentally overlooked. If there’s anything you feel is missing or in need of correction, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2018, there were misogynistic, rape, FGM, racist and ableist comments in a private Warwick ‘lads’ group chat.The chat was discovered after one of the boys showed it to a girl they had discussed, and she took screenshots. The chat was then reported to the University. Warwick inflicted different punishments on the perpetrators, but there are ongoing concerns about the suitability of these sanctions. In 2020, the girls discussed in the chat haven’t (to my knowledge) received a proper apology from the University over its handling of the case, and one boy has possibly returned to campus.
Many of the perpetrators held society exec positions, and several of them allegedly represented the Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre during their society charity work.
In this article, four perpetrators were originally named and pictured, one has since been removed.
A second group chat was made several weeks after the first one was discovered, but before screenshots from the first chat were made available to the Warwick Tab newspaper.
First student protest against the group chat (don’t have a link, but I was there).
11.06.2018 - Disciplinary hearing:
The University found that the students had breached its ‘Dignity at Warwick’ policy.
Punishments for the perpetrators were revealed.
Three students left or were required to leave (unclear who made that decision), one received a lifetime campus ban, two were banned for ten years, and two were required to withdraw for a year, and pay fines. One student had been part of the chat, but no evidence was found against him, so he was able to go on his Year Abroad as planned.
Two students had been exonerated at an earlier stage.
At the start of the 2018/2019 academic year, several of the perpetrators returned to campus. Only three were supposed to return, but six did. One boy was seen moving into housing managed by Warwick Accommodation.
#Shameonyouwarwick helped to draw national and media attention to the issue.
The BBC stated that two perpetrators would not return to campus (boys whose ten year bans had been reduced to one) - result of student and media outcry, but unclear if the uni or the boys made this decision.
Students protest against the uni’s decision anyway (second protest against the group chat).
The disciplinary hearing was conducted by Peter Dunn, Warwick’s Head of Press
“In February 2019, the university admitted "the potential for conflict" between Mr Dunn's two roles, but insisted relevant press duties were "delegated" during the investigation. However, in one email seen by the BBC, Mr Dunn told the women he was planning to release a statement to the media about their case during the investigation, and asked for their feedback.”
BB3 Documentary The Warwick Uni Rape Chat Scandal, featuring interviews with some of the girls discussed in the chat.
The university announced a five point action plan - review of its disciplinary procedures had been conducted by Dr Sharon Persaud.
Key findings - commitment to transparency (regular updates), that future investigations would be conducted by specialists, and an overall of the uni’s disciplinary procedures within 18 months.
In an interview with The Guardian, one of the victims revealed that she sat one of her final year exams next one of the perpetrators, and that the invigilator left the room several times during the exam.
She also stated that the university is not a safe place for women and ethnic minorities, that she and another woman were suing the university.
In December 2018 Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft blocked further internal investigation of her complaint.
She revealed that Peter Dunn asked her to reveal intimate details about her relationship to the perpetrators, causing her emotional distress.
Warwick alleged that until July 2019, it had given the victims progress updates and offered wellbeing support.
It alleged that it would appoint Student Liaison Officers, and that it would continue to work with its students and staff.
It also alleged that it was satisfied that the perpetrators who had received “minor disciplinary sanctions” “have met the necessary requirements ahead of returning”.
One of the girls said there had been “radio silence” from the university, and that she has not been personally contacted by anyone high up in the uni, or “had any personal apology”.
The university alleged that “sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind is completely unacceptable”.
Publication of the university’s first quarterly report on its disciplinary overhaul.
The university alleged that more than half of Dr Persaud’s recommendations had been implemented.
The Boar revealed that six of the perpetrators were collectively fined £1150 - the money was allegedly invested into welfare and wellbeing services.
Autumn 2020 - One group chat boy possibly returns to campus for his final year of study.