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  1. ITV Report

University vice chancellor apologises to victims of 'rape group chat' scandal

  • The vice chancellor of Warwick University has 'wholeheartedly apologised' for mistakes made over the handling of the 'rape group chat' scandal.
  • The apology follows an independent review of the university's disciplinary processes.
Warwick University. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

The vice chancellor of Warwick University has issued an apology to the victims of a scandal over obscene phone messages.

The University suspended 11 male students in May last year, after screenshots of a group message chat emerged in which users joked about rape and used racial slurs.

Vice chancellor Stuart Croft said the university made mistakes in its handling of the situation.

Warwick University Credit: ITV News Central

Warwick University published an open letter from the vice chancellor.

Many of you will be aware that, following the events surrounding the group chat in February this year, the University’s Council commissioned an independent external review into our student disciplinary and appeals processes, including those relating to sexual misconduct. The review was led by Dr Sharon Persaud, and today we are publishing her independent external review in full.

We accept the findings and recommendations made in the review. We made mistakes in our handling of the situation, including in how we communicated with the victims and with our community. We wholeheartedly apologise.

Everyone has the right to feel safe on campus. Sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind is completely unacceptable. The University has already taken action in some areas covered by the review’s recommendations, including to set up two specialist external investigators to support with disciplinary cases. We have also come together as a community to draw up a statement of principles which affirm our values here at Warwick, and we will be embedding these across the community so that everyone is clear what we stand for.

Today we are publishing an action plan alongside the full review report that sets out our priorities for this work, and we will be holding a series of sessions giving everyone the opportunity to get involved in this process.

We will report publicly on our progress, beginning in September 2019.

We have listened and reflected. We will now deliver on our commitments. We are determined that, by continuing to work together with our students, staff and wider Warwick community, we will build on the steps we have already taken and deliver our action plan which focuses upon developing pride and commitment to our values, greater transparency, and improved policies and processes.

– Stuart Croft, Warwick University vice chancellor
Vice chancellor Stuart Croft has apologised over the way the investigation was handled. Credit: ITV News Central

The apology follows an independent review of the university's disciplinary processes, which accused Warwick of being more concerned about its own reputation than properly investigating the case.

The university has released a five-point action plan to implement changes based on the findings of the report.

The five key areas it will focus on are:

  • Transparency - identifying a clear reporting structure and timetable to provide the Warwick community with timely updates on progress
  • Policies - developing current policies relating to student discipline and expected behaviours to reflect the university's revised values
  • Process - reviewing all current process and procedures relating to student discipline against the report’s recommendations
  • Embedding - working across the Warwick community to ensure values and expected behaviours sit firmly within
  • Communications - improving communication of expected behaviours and better signpost policies that reflect this