PROTESTS were staged on the University of Warwick campus after chiefs initially agreed to the return of students suspended over ‘racist and mysognistic’ group chat messages – including comments about rape.
Wednesday’s demonstration came despite university chiefs on Monday (February 4) confirming the two students would not return after all – after days of intense pressure.
Many remain outraged that the initial 10 year suspensions – for two of the five who received suspensions – were reduced to 12 months after an appeal and ‘new evidence.’
About 500 students descended on the campus in Gibbets Hill, Coventry, to condemn the decision which would have seen the perpetrators resume their studies in September.
That could have seen them return to brush shoulders with some of those they made threatening comments about.
The protest was called ‘Reclaim Our University’.
Student union president Liam Jackson sent a letter on behalf of members to Mr Croft saying students had lost confidence in him and the university’s disciplinary systems.
They have called for vice-chancellor Stuart Croft’s resignation if he cannot show remorse for initially supporting the decision.
The two students were banned for 10 years after messages were sent on a private chat about rape, sexual violence and teenage schoolgirls – some including racial insults.
Two other students were banned for one year, while another was expelled.
Some have debated whether the private chat was intended more as over-the-top shock humour, and the extent to which outrageous and obscene private comments between friends should be acceptable.
The students who were suspended have not commented publicly and there is no allegation they have committed violent acts.
But others have perceived them as a threat, and the chat as expressions of a dangerous masculine culture.
Mr Jackson in his letter to Mr Croft wrote: “As you will be aware, the student body at Warwick have emphatically voiced their concerns, anger and dismay around the handling of the group chat investigation.
“The survivors have been let down by the university.
“Students have been telling me that they do not feel that the university take their safety and wellbeing seriously and a sexist, misogynistic, racist culture is not just tolerated, but encouraged.
“Students expect your resignation if you cannot meaningfully explain the situation, show no remorse, or no commitment to learning and changing.”
Pressure had been mounting, including from Labour MP for Warwick and Leamington Matt Western, who had called on university chiefs to rescind their previous decision as a matter of urgency.
A petition, now with more than 70,000 signatures, was also launched calling on university chiefs to ‘say no to violence on campus’.
The #ShameOnYouWarwick Twitter campaign – placing the issue in the national spotlight – was also increasing the pressure.
The private messenger chat was first revealed by the university newspaper, The Boar. The messages include remarks such as: “It’s sometimes fun to just go wild and rape 100 girls.”
“I’d record my girl getting raped.”
Another writes: “I love Hitler. I hate n***** and Jews and Corbyn. Crusade for racism? I hate c**ns.”
The group’s name was changed to ‘F*** women. Disrespect them all.’