#MeToo: One suspension from 13 reported sexual assaults at the University of Leicester

Written by Toby Cray

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed that one student has been suspended from 13 reported incidents of sexual assault or rape, over the academic years 2018/19 and 2019/20.

Of the 13 cases, four allegations were upheld, with two students being reprimanded, while the last student was fined with the suspension of specific privileges. It’s unknown what these privileges were.

Lyla*, a survivor of sexual assault, gave her response to the fact that only one student had been suspended, by stating:

“I think it’s disgusting, and the university needs to do better, to provide justice for students that have been sexually assaulted because it is something that affects us for the rest of our lives!”

The university responded to the FOI figures by stating: “Every allegation is taken extremely seriously and investigated.”

Two years ago, sexual violence at Leicester made national headlines, as students came forward with their own personal stories, leading to the #metoooncampus campaign.

The Students’ Union Wellbeing Officer, Karli Wagener, is running a campaign to help signpost students towards support, if they have survived sexual violence.

This includes a poster detailing the options available, which Karli describes as “a quick tool to empower them to make decisions in a holistic way […] We need to empower survivors. Sexual violence is about asserting power and removing the power of another person. By giving the power back to survivors, especially with the steps to take and who to talk to/contact for help, this aids with the healing process.”

The university have also said: “Students or staff affected will be supported and helped if they have experienced such behaviour.

“As part of our commitment to student and staff wellbeing and safety, we continuously review our regulations, policies and procedures to ensure that we are able to provide the best help and support possible, when it’s needed.

“We are committed to ensuring that the University builds upon this important work, and becomes a leading force for change in Higher Education in tackling sexual harassment and violence.”

However, Lyla believes that the university has not done enough to help survivors, stating:

“Many students will feel like these figures show that the university won’t support or deal with their case in the proper way, so won’t speak out.”

As Karli’s poster shows, there are many different organisations that can provide support, including Juniper Lodge which provides a free and discreet service to anyone aged 18 years and over that has been subject to a sexual assault.

Everyone can play their part in preventing sexual violence, as Karli states: “If you see something wrong, call it out […] being an active bystander can save lives.”

Read Lyla’s story here.

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

Toby Cray is a second-year journalism student at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Instagram here: @toby5.c

Image by Siora Photography, from Unsplash.

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