Content notice: rape, racism and sexual violence.
We stand in full solidarity with the victims of the comments made in the group chat whose screenshots detailing misogynistic, rape apologist, racist, anti-semitic and ableist language were made public yesterday, as well as anyone who was affected by them. We are appalled by the behaviour exhibited in these chats, and understand it to be part of a broader epidemic of sexual violence in universities, where these comments and behaviour are normalised and even excused under the guise of ‘free speech’ or ‘banter’. This is no laughing matter, 62% of students have reported being subject to sexual violence at their time in university, with 8% of women graduates being victims of rape, twice as much as the rate for women overall in England and Wales (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/02/universities-rape-epidemic-sexual-assault-students). These comments cannot be defended under the right to privacy or under the banner of free speech. For far too long this language has been used behind closed doors without consequence, feeding these ideologies, allowing them to fester into abuse. This doesn’t just stop at written expression, it has drastic consequences as detailed above, which could severely affect the lives of many.
It’s time universities took this matter seriously, we hear in mainstream discourse that we need more education to change bigoted views, yet this abuse is being perpetrated by students attending renowned universities. We need more: we need a feminist education, a decolonised and anti-racist education which doesn’t shy away from challenging oppressive views prevalent in our society. Our marketised education system means our universities are more concerned with their public image and looking glossy and polished for prospective students, than actively putting out resources to prevent sexual violence and support the victims of it. (https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2015/feb/02/universities-reluctant-tackle-sexual-violence-fear-pr-fallout).
The university must take a firm and unequivocal stance against the violent sexist and racist behaviour encouraged within the group chat in question, this means holding every participant of the conversation fully accountable for what they have said. Moreover, some of the acts encouraged and praised in the chat involve violently raping and sexually assaulting women & girls and enacting violence against Jewish people and ethnic minorities. This goes beyond accountability and becomes an issue of safety, wellbeing and principle. This blatant disregard for the humanity and wellbeing of women and ethnic minorities, in addition to the promotion of real physical harm against these groups, means that these predators should not be trusted to return back to this university. They should be expelled to ensure the safety of those who they have callously threatened to rape, beat and brutalise.
If given the opportunity to remain in this university, these predators will have the access to obtain the societal privilege, power and wealth associated with having a qualification from Warwick. This power will enable them to act on their words in the future, enacting violence on at-risk people whilst being protected by privilege and money thus escaping accountability again and again. The university must end this cycle before it begins. If this university is claiming to be a diverse and inclusive space, it must send a clear message that it does not stand by these views. This should be done by removing and expelling the dangerous predators in question, according to their degree of involvement. They must be dealt with uncompromisingly and unapologetically – along with all other rapists, racists and rape enthusiasts.
Most importantly, we should not sensationalise this one incident: disciplinary action for these perpetrators won’t solve the wider problems that made this group chat possible. Sexism, rape apology, racism and antisemitism do not disappear by making these predators disappear. Racist discourses and rape culture will remain firmly in place on campus, in campus groups/societies, in our university accommodations, during our club nights and in wider society until institutions like our university become proactive rather than reactive. This University has failed to do this so far. Here are our demands of this ‘diverse and inclusive’ university:
- GET THE PREDATORS OUT.
- Make use of the resources that we already have surrounding consent. The #WeGetConsent campaign, amongst other thorough consent campaigns across campuses all over the UK, has great videos that must be distributed and made more visible to all Warwick students.
- Repurpose the Piazza big screen, currently used for endless and repetitive self-promotion videos played at students & staff that are already members of this institution, to play consent videos from the SU and other similar videos from liberation campaigns.
- Invest more money and resources into the anti-sexist and anti-racist campaigns that students have devoted so much of their time to despite a lack of adequate funding and institutional support. This involves greater support for victims and survivors of sexist and racist abuse.
- Enforce consent training and bystander intervention training for students and staff. Bystander intervention training was recently put on the curriculum for first year PAIS students, this must become part of the curriculum for all university departments.
We conclude this statement by urging all students to be dissatisfied with bigotry. When you encounter rape apology, sexual violence, misogyny, anti-semitism, nazi ideology, violence against minorities, racist rhetoric, islamophobia, white supremacy, LGBTQ+-phobias, ableism, classism and other forms of prejudice, we urge you to take a stand and speak up in whichever capacity you feel capable and comfortable. (https://www.warwicksu.com/advice/crime/hatecrime/) Do not let predators, violent misogynists and racists fly under the radar or go unchallenged. Sometimes this means exposing group chats like these to ensure the safety of marginalised groups.
Warwick Anti-Sexism Society
Warwick Anti-Racism Society
Warwick Jewish Society
Warwick for Free Education