SU passes motion to standardise misconduct reporting systems across Cambridge Colleges
The motion was met with almost unanimous support during Monday’s Student Council meeting
CN: reference to sexual misconduct and reporting procedures
An emergency motion to support an open proposal for the University of Cambridge to standardise misconduct and discrimination reporting systems across its constituent colleges has tonight (01/03) been passed at the Student Union’s fortnightly Student Council meeting.
The open proposal, titled “#SpeakOut: Open Call for Cambridge to Standardise Misconduct and Discrimination Reporting Systems Across its Constituent Colleges”, urges the university community “to pass statutory requirements” across the colleges “to standardise and streamline procedures for addressing allegations of misconduct, discrimination and harassment.”
In particular, the proposal highlights the necessity of a standardised reporting system across colleges for people attempting to report sexual assault, citing the sexual misconduct scandal at Trinity Hall last year, when it was revealed that student complaints had been systematically mishandled by College leadership.
None of the council members argued to amend the motion before voting almost unanimously in its favour.
It also calls for colleges to “report directly to the university, and the public”, as well as to “regularly share anonymised information and statistics regarding complaints within the university community” in order to emphasise the responsibility we all have in fighting discrimination and inequality.
The emergency motion was proposed by Gregory Serapio-García, a PhD student and Equity and Inclusion Officer on the St John’s College MCR, and seconded by Howard Chae, the current BAME Sabbatical Officer on the Cambridge SU.
The open proposal justifies its demands by alleging that “university and collegiate procedures for handling allegations of racial, sexual, gender-based, disability-based, and other discrimination and harassment […] are woefully inadequate” and “lead to more harm than benefit for many students” who attempt to raise a complaint.
It also cites prominent public examples of discrimination and harassment in Cambridge colleges in recent years and months, including Serapio-García’s own experience of being told by Trinity College that he needed to “understand UK customer service” after he reported being racially antagonised by a college porter.
Full solidarity with Gregory. Routine harassment is such a normalised part of everyday life for BME students, and the hostility of Trinity's response to Gregory's complaint shows why most students never speak up about their experiences. https://t.co/h5KdtuHiZ7
— Howard Cambridge SU (@SU_BME) February 18, 2021
In passing the motion, the SU resolves to lobby the university’s pro-vice chancellorship, senior tutors and heads of house whilst also pushing for the support of the organisations and individuals in the university community.
The proposal petitions the university’s Regent House to implement reforms such as mandating that Colleges’ first attempt to resolve complaints must take place within twenty-one calendar days, that reporting and appeals structures across the colleges are standardised, and that colleges “record and transmit anonymised statistics and progress metrics […] to a central regulatory body, such as the OSCCA (Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals) of the University’s Equality and Diversity Committee.”
It also includes a demand for at least one of the contacts examining a complaint of discrimination against a minoritised complaint to “self-identify with the minoritised group that has reported the complaint”, for instance in cases of racial or gendered prejudice.
At the Student Council meeting, SU Women’s Officer Chloe Newbold encouraged those who were interested in the motion to attend an open meeting co-hosted by the Women’s Campaign and the BME Campaign tomorrow evening (02/03), where reforms to disciplinary procedures will be discussed.
This comes as OSCCA is set to adopt a new reporting platform for harassment and abuse in the coming months.
Related articles recommended by this author:
- Trinity College said a student reporting racism needs to ‘understand UK customer service’
- ‘Did he stop me because I was black?’: Speaking out against everyday racism in Cambridge
- The most ‘socially diverse’ intake ever? A closer look at BAME representation in Cambridge
- Trinity Hall sexual harassment scandal opens up discussion about policy reform