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Students in protest over vile group chat storm.

Byline: KATY HALLAM Chief Reporter katy.hallam@reachplc.com

A HUGE throng of students protested at the University of Warwick after two of those involved in a vile rape group chat had their bans reduced.

Hundreds of students blocked the entrance to the Vice-Chancellor's office on February 6 as they demanded his resignation and a life-long ban for all those involved.

Photos posted to social media showed hundreds of students sitting down on the floor outside University House as they called for Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft to resign.

Chalk messages reading "shame" and "we will not be silenced" were also daubed on some university buildings on the campus during the demonstration, organised by Warwick for Free Education.

As well as life-time bans for those involved in the vile chat, the protesters were demanding a public inquiry into the university's handling of the situation.

They said their other demands were as follows: 1. A life-long ban for those found culpable in the original complaints process, from both campus and from completing studies at the University of Warwick.

2. A review of the University's processes concerning bullying, harassment, and discrimination and the related complaints process, in line with Warwick UCU's call for an inclusive commission. We would want this review to involve all relevant stakeholders, including the victims, the Students' Union, and staff, and for it to be conducted in a transparent manner.

3. An independent and public inquiry into the University's failure to handle the ongoing complaints process, which began last year, in an appropriate manner.

4. Financial investment and support from the University to facilitate bystander intervention training for all staff and students.

A spokesman for Warwick for Free Education said: "We are marching to Reclaim Our University because we will not stand for rape culture at our University: we deserve to feel safe on our campus.

"When students act in a way that harms the wellbeing of other students, they forfeit their right to an education at this University.

"We stand in solidarity with the victims of this incident, all those affected, and those who continue to be impacted by rape culture, both at this University and within society more broadly.

The university has declined to comment on the protest.

It all stems back to a Facebook group chat which was uncovered last year.

The vile chat included messages like "sometimes it's fun to just go wild and rape 100 girls" and "rape the whole flat to teach them all [a] lesson".

A disciplinary investigation by the university led to five students being suspended.

Two were banned for 10 years, two for one year and one for life.

But the news resurfaced this week after the two given a 10 year ban had it reduced to one year on appeal.

The university has said the two students concerned will not return to the university.

David Normington, the University of Warwick's Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, said: "The University Council which is the governing body of the University, met this morning, 6 February, and discussed the serious events surrounding the group chat.

"We agree with the Vice-Chancellor that the behaviour of the men concerned was abhorrent and unacceptable in any circumstances. We are deeply sorry and understand the distress this has caused the victims of this abuse and the wider impact which we know has been felt by our students and our staff.

"The two men who were the subject of the appeals process will not be returning to the University and we believe this is the right outcome.

"We have agreed that in collaboration with the Senate, there will be a thorough, external and independent review of our disciplinary and appeals processes.

"We will ensure that the views of our community are widely sought and the progress of this review will be communicated on a regular basis.

"We have also agreed that now is the right time to restate what we stand for as a University.

"We are a University which values diversity, respect and trust. We will not tolerate abuse, harassment, prejudice and unacceptable behaviour of any kind. We intend to work urgently with our community to make clear the values and behaviours we expect of everyone.

"The Council has a membership that includes external members, representative of the Students' Union, University staff and management, including the Vice Chancellor.

"We want to reassure the University community that the paramount concern of everyone on the Council is, and will remain, the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff. We will begin this work immediately and we will treat this as a priority."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 8, 2019
Words:763
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