4,000 people sign petition to change Edinburgh Uni’s sexual violence disciplinary system
The third year Social Anthropology student behind the petition has accused the uni of gaslighting victims like her
TW: sexual assault
A petition calling for changes to Edinburgh University’s sexual violence disciplinary system has garnered over 4,000 signatures.
Aarti Mukhedkar, a third year Social Anthropology student at the University of Edinburgh, has started a petition on Change.org seeking to change the current reporting and system for sexual violence at the university.
She highlights her own negative experiences with the system after she reported her assault and claims that the uni “turns a blind eye” to sexual violence and the culture that surrounds it.
In the petition description on Change.org and public post on Instagram she alleges: “In a veiled attempt to ‘help’ me, the university proceeded to victim-blame, gaslight and corner me further”.
She focuses specifically on the length of the procedure and alleges that the Student Disciplinary Committee suddenly dismissed her accusation, despite it being upheld by the Conduct Investigator. She claims that despite “trusting the system” the university “neglected” her and that there were many “lapses in the process”.
She also alleges that after seeking legal advice she was informed that the uni only offers appeals to those accused and not the victims of such incidents, which she believes results in a system that is “unfair, opaque and hugely stacked in favour of the accused.”
In her post, she calls for change, for a system that is “fair, transparent and effective” and encourages us all to “sign my petition, sign it with rage. I urge you to be angry and to be loud with me.”
The petition follows the revelation that the University of Edinburgh was the third most mentioned university on Everyone’s Invited, an anonymous forum for people to name institutions and relay stories of sexual assault.
The petition has reached over 4,300 signatures, well above the 500 it first intended to get. Students and those in solidarity have been sharing reasons they have signed the petition.
One signatory said: “the casual attitude adopted by the institution with such incidents is NOT OKAY”, with another alleging they “also been failed by the University of Edinburgh”.
A spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “The university does not tolerate sexual violence nor any form of abuse within its community and takes such reports very seriously. We continue to work closely across the university and with the Students’ Association and Sports Union to develop strategies aimed at both preventing and responding to such forms of abuse.
“As part of this strategy, we encourage more students to disclose to the university that they are survivors of abuse and sexual violence, reduce incidences of sexual violence through education and culture change, and provide victim-centred support to survivors.
“We have established a Sexual Violence and Harassment Liaison team (known as The Equally Safe Team), who provide support for survivors of sexual violence and other forms of abuse, such as domestic abuse, as well as overseeing the ‘Report & Support’ platform.
“Any student who has experienced sexual harassment, violence or abuse can use the platform to either tell the university (anonymously) about what happened or report it, with their contact details, and seek confidential and specialist support. The site also provides further information, advice and guidance for survivors of sexual harassment, violence or abuse.
“We are working with a wide range of groups across Edinburgh to tackle sexual violence and other forms of abuse. We are part of the ‘Fearless Edinburgh’ partnership, which brings together Higher Educational establishments in Edinburgh, Police Scotland and a range of third sector support services. We are also working with frontline support groups such as Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre, and fund dedicated support for our student survivors through such specialist services.
“The university also offers free online ‘Consent Matters’ and ‘Tackling Harassment’ courses to highlight what informed sexual consent looks like, how all parties can respect and agree clear boundaries and ensure clear referral pathways when there is any breach in consent.”
You can sign the petition here.