Our abuse team were interested to read press coverage of an assault by a senior university lecturer on a postgraduate student.
A report has been published following an independent enquiry which criticised the University of Sussex about the way in which they assessed the risk posed by their member of staff. The report noted that after the student reported the assault, the University took only the lecturer's account of their relationship into consideration when assessing the risk he posed.
The University did not suspend the lecturer, even after he was convicted of assaulting the student. They only did so following after the matter was reported in the press.
Regrettably, this appears to be yet another example of an institution putting its own interests first and seeking to save their reputation at the expense of vulnerable people under their care. This is not the first occasion where we have encountered an assault being perpetrated by a senior member of staff at a British University which has not been dealt with appropriately by college authorities. It is precisely this kind of approach that has led to incidents being swept under the carpet for many years. Sadly, it seems that institutions which frankly should know better have still to learn the lessons that recent high profile cases have taught us. It is extremely disappointing and frustrating that the same mistakes are continuing to be made.
It is vital that there are clear policies in place in universities and colleges in relation to a staff-student relationships. Furthermore, it is important for those responsible for dealing with complaints regarding the conduct of staff at a university or college are committed to investigating the matter fully and taking all reports of inappropriate or abusive behaviour seriously. Simply because the person against whom an allegation is made is well-respected in their field of expertise, should not mean they are immune to criticism when serious complaints are made regarding their conduct.
If you been affected by an assault at University a similar institution, please contact our specialist team for a free and no obligation chat on 0808 139 1597 or email Rachel Thain at firstname.lastname@example.org.