Universities have become padded cells for vulnerable inmates

Dec 3, 2019 by

by Peter Jones, Rebel Priest:

Most university vice-chancellors, one suspects, if they subscribe to any paper read the Guardian by choice. But when that paper runs a story about their university, they are likely to suppress a groan: the news is unlikely to be good. Events three weeks ago at Birmingham University are a case in point.

Three years ago, a female student living off campus (we will anonymise her as Alice) took a boyfriend (call him Ben), also a Birmingham student, home to her digs after some heavy drinking. They had consensual sex and slept together. In the middle of the night he then allegedly had sex with her again while she was only semi-conscious. Both, it seems, then went back to sleep, before Alice had Ben bundled out of the house in the morning.

In April this year, worried about encountering Ben during her finals, Alice submitted a formal complaint, alleging rape by Ben two years earlier and asking the University to investigate and if necessary discipline or exclude him.

The University declined, citing the passage of time (well over two years) and the fact that the event had occurred on private premises outside the campus where it had neither jurisdiction nor the facilities to investigate. It did offer to have a word with Ben, but could not guarantee to keep Alice’s name secret if Ben asked what he was accused of.

The result was a Twitter blitz and vortex of vitriol against the University, which stood accused of misogyny, breach of its duty of care, and condonation of sexual violence. This was predictable in a sense: Alice obviously deserves sympathy.

But here’s the problem. Viewed in the cold light of day, the only sensible conclusion is that the university here acted entirely correctly.

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