Petition to include rape in extentuating circumstances reaches 2,000 signatures
The Guild ‘fully support’ the campaign
The University are still considering whether to give sexual assault its own extenuating circumstances clause – even though 2,000 people have signed a petition encouraging them to change it.
The petition was launched anonymously after a fourth year was raped on her year abroad and then denied extenuating circumstances, meaning she failed the year.
But while the Guild “fully support” the campaign, the uni are yet to change the rules, which leaves sexual assault under the “personal injury” clause.
Many supporters of the petition chose to leave comments, with some opening up to tell their own story.
An alumni of the University wrote: “It’s quite frankly disgusting a university who calls itself world class and promotes equality could be so stuck in the past and not acknowledge such a prolific and destructive crime as a serious attack on mental and physical health.
“If extenuating circumstances can be awarded for jury service, they should be awarded and re-awarded in abundance for victims of any violent crime. As a former student so proud of my university, all I can say is shame on you UoB and I hope you learn the catastrophic error of your ways.”
University staff from Birmingham and other universities have also been offering their support for the change to the Code of Practice.
A lecturer at UCL commented: “I’m a university lecturer and would be utterly horrified if I wasn’t allowed to grant ECs or equivalent to a person affected by this.”
The Guild of Students is currently working with the university to encourage change to the Code of Practice, as it is being rewritten this academic year.
A spokesperson from the Guild said: “The Guild fully supports this petition and we are working with the university with the hope of updating the Code of Practice to make it considerate of rape and sexual assault.”
As it stands, sexual assault is classed as “personal injury” and does not have its own separate clause.
One Birmingham student said: “Personal injury implies an accidental incident, I suffer a personal injury if I fall and hurt myself. There is nothing ‘accidental’ about rape.”
A University of Birmingham spokesperson said: “Given the seriousness with which we take this issue, we would be extremely concerned any student might think sexual assault would not be grounds for extenuating circumstances, and will be working very closely with students to ensure our communications around our code of practice make our position on this very clear.
“While we cannot comment on individual cases, the University and the Guild of Students has a robust joint approach to tackling sexual harassment and supporting students or staff affected by such issues.
“Students can find out more about the full range of University support services and resources by visiting the Student Services support website. There is a specialist Harassment Advice Service that is free, confidential and open to anyone, staff or student, who wants to talk about harassment.
“The Guild of Students’ Advice & Representation Centre has specialist trained advisors that students can speak to in confidence.”
This amendment of adding rape and sexual assualt as its own clause to the Code of Practice is still in discussion.
The petition is still gathering support and is available to sign here.