The University of Cambridge has admitted that the institution is suffering from a ‘significant problem involving sexual misconduct’. This follows the announcement that 173 anonymous reports of serious allegations have been submitted to them. From May 2017, students and staff were able to report abuse via an online form. 173 reports were made, which revolved around sexual misconduct allegations. This is worrying news for the University and its wider community. Read on for more.
As mentioned, students and staff were eligible to fill out an online form from May 2017. This form allowed them to anonymously report incidents of sexual misconduct, harassment or hate crime. The University also launched its ‘Breaking the Silence’ campaign a few months ago – which has been credited with leading to the surge in anonymous reporting. The results of this form, which have recently been announced, are worrying. However, the self-reporting measure does seem to be having a positive impact.
119 of the 173 reports concern complaints regarding other students. 2 of the cases were about the conduct of staff members. It should be noted the allegations aren’t limited to students either, with staff reporting their colleagues on no fewer than seven instances. The results only concern a nine-month period – of which contain three summer months which sees the University’s population significantly drop. It is also worth noting that in the October-December 2017 period, only six formal allegations were made to the University.
Graham Virgo, who is a Professor of English Private Law and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Cambridge, suggested the findings ‘supports’ their belief that they have a ‘significant problem involving sexual misconduct’. He went on to say that ‘what we now need to ensure is that those who have been affected receive the support and guidance they need’. The key area of this statement however is Virgo’s admission that the University has a ‘significant’ problem – and given the number of reports submitted – this appears to be true.
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Cambridge isn’t the only institution to have created anonymous reporting tools, though they are the first to make the results public – a positive move. The University appears to be addressing the problem, which is something that in the long-term should have a positive effect on the University, and the wider student community.