Edinburgh Uni VP apologises for ‘failure’ to deal with student’s sexual violence claim

The third year student claims it was a ‘reluctant apology’ for alleged ‘gaslighting’ by the uni

Vice Principal Colm Harmon has apologised for a “failure” to adequately deal with a student’s claim of sexual violence.

Third year Social Anthropology student Aarti Mukhedkar has previously alleged she was “gaslighted” by the uni’s sexual violence disciplinary system after reporting an assault of “life-threatening nature”.

She claims the reporting process took 11 months – and after her case was judged as “not proven on the balance of probabilities”, she had no recourse for appeal.

In a screenshot of  a private email from Harmon that the third year student posted to Instagram, he concedes: “The student conduct process has not lived up to your expectations…your experience of the process has been a negative one” and apologises for “the sense that we have failed you”.

In light of her experiences, Mukhedkar started a Change.org petition demanding an apology from the uni for her treatment – as well as changes to how Edinburgh handles sexual violence disciplinary cases. At the time of writing, it has over 50,000 signatures.

In her Instagram post, the third year claims that she was mistreated and gaslighted by the process. She also alleges that her “DMs and inbox are flooded with stories” like hers and insinuates her experiences are commonplace.

She says this is the reason she has called for Edinburgh University to “recognise there is a problem, apologise for the many lives ruined by their wrongdoing and to reform this unjust system”.

The post reads: “Despite there being so much outcry from students and survivors alike, the university fails to admit there is a problem. The University believes that the complaints system is ‘fair and robust’.

“In his email to me, Vice Principal Harmon reluctantly apologises for my experience. My experience is not an anomaly in the system. I am not the only one. Your apology for the ‘sense [you] have failed [me]’ falls extremely short of my demand for a ‘formal written apology to all survivors and the larger student community.

“Dear UoE, I wouldn’t have started a petition, sacrificed my privacy, and donated my penultimate year to this campaign if this was a ‘me problem’. My DMs and inbox are flooded with stories that sound just like mine. This is not a story about one survivor, but instead of too many who have been wronged by an oppressive system designed by you.

“So please, try again with your apology. Try again with change. Even though you have ruined many lives, we are waiting here to work with you to make change, and to make sure this never, ever happens again.”

She also points to the fact that over 50,000 people have now signed her petition to evidence her claim that she is not alone and that this is a systemic issue.

In response to Aarti’s Instagram post, Vice Principal Harmon told The Edinburgh Tab: “This is a really difficult situation and I take very seriously the issues that are being raised, but I won’t comment on the specifics of my interactions with a student, even when that student chooses to talk publicly themselves. Our policy is always to protect those involved in misconduct cases and I fully stand by that. The Code of Student Conduct sets the standards of behaviour we expect within our community and we routinely review the policy and processes within the code to ensure they robustly reflect our experience of using it in practice. Such a review is currently underway and our intention is to speak with student representatives within EUSA and the Sports Union to hear their views on what changes could be made to refine our processes. The nature of misconduct hearings can be challenging for those involved and outcomes are not always what people want or expect and I accept that providing support in these circumstances is something we can improve on going forward and I make that commitment. Further details on the current review of the Code of Student Conduct can be found here.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the University of Edinburgh said: “The strength of feeling around these issues is something the University fully understands. We do not tolerate sexual violence within our community and we investigate all reports made to us thoroughly.

Our processes are robust, but we will always seek to make improvements wherever we can and we intend to work with colleagues within our student association to ensure that the voices of students are included in any decisions on changing the way that sexual assaults within our community are reported and investigated.

Anyone who has experienced sexual violence within the University can use our Report and Support platform which can be found here. 

Further information can also be found here:




You can sign the petition here.

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