Over 1,000 people sign petition for independent review of LSE’s sexual misconduct procedure

LSE has been criticised for its ‘mishandled’ investigation into a professor facing 14 allegations of sexual misconduct


A petition calling for an independent review of LSE’S sexual misconduct procedure has gained over 1,000 signatures after the university failed to take action against a professor facing 14 allegations of misconduct.

LSE had previously been criticised for “mishandling” the investigation into a professor in the International History department, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

An article by LSE student newspaper The Beaver criticised the university’s investigation procedure over insufficiently trained staff, neglecting to interview several witnesses, and a significant lack of action by following the professor breaching his suspension on multiple occasions.

Published to Change.org on March 12th, the petition was created by student-led group HandsOff LSE in response to the failings within the investigation. Dedicated to the improvement of the institution’s sexual assault policy and increasing awareness of sexual violence both on and off campus, the group outlined its demands within the petition.

These include a formal letter of apology to those affected, the “immediate resignation or termination” of the professor, and an independent review of the support and investigation process the LSE offers victims of sexual harassment and assault.

The HandsOff LSE committee

LSE was made aware of 14 alleged occurrences of sexual misconduct by July 2022, with five formal complaints and nine informal allegations. One of the formal accusers, a female PhD student, alleged the academic tried to kiss her on a departmental trip for staff and students.

Despite suspending the professor during the investigation, it was ruled that the case against the faculty member did not present “good cause for dismissal.”

Arguing that the university’s response to the accusations was inadequate, the petition claims that LSE “failed to protect students and faculty from further victimisation,” and that it “appears that sexual misconduct is an endemic and institutionally-protected practise at LSE.”

Complainants were also reportedly not informed of the reasons for the academic being cleared, nor allowed to see a copy of the investigation’s conclusions.

A protest was held against LSE’s procedure

Joe Card, a student representative in the International History department, criticised the result of LSE’s investigation, alleging it has produced an unsafe environment for students.

He explained: “[They] no longer feel safe to attend one-to-one office hours with academic mentors, class teachers, and dissertation supervisors at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, depriving them of the academic and pastoral support they need to succeed.”

Taylor Sherman, a former LSE professor, resigned in September 2023 citing the university’s mishandling of the case. She cited her dissatisfaction with how LSE dealt with the complaints against the academic.

Speaking to The Beaver, she criticised the process for handling accusations of misconduct.

Ms Sherman said: “The complaint system seems to be set up to protect the faculty, and does not just let these abuses happen, but discriminates against the people who complain.”

She also shared her disapproval of the university’s handling of misconduct on X, where she shared a Tweet written by another female academic who urged people to read The Beaver’s article on LSE’s response to the “abusive professor.”

Adding a comment, Taylor wrote: “More than a dozen women at the LSE have held each other up through this. As a full professor with a secure job, I can put my name to our efforts. But let me reassure you, the others are stronger than me. They’ve gotten jobs. They’re writing books. And they are not done.”

Taylor Sherman continued to explain that she faced difficulty when encouraging other senior staff to listen and believe women who reported misconduct at LSE.

In a tweet she wrote: “What did I do? I listened to the women. I believed the women. I supported the women in their calls for justice. And I asked the senior-most people at LSE to do the same. Nothing out of the ordinary, and yet the hardest thing I’ve done.”

Since the release of the petition, HandsOff LSE has held events devoted to furthering the cause and awareness surrounding it.

Most recently, a protest was held outside the Centre Building at the university, following a meeting with LSE representatives who HandsOff claims “refused to discuss specifics of the case presented in The Beaver article.”

Zarina Huq, a HandsOff committee member, said: “HandsOff LSE feels very strongly about holding LSE to account surrounding the accused individual and LSE’s failure to conduct a satisfactory investigation. We feel that LSE’s statement about improving processes is not enough, as there is a complete lack of transparency between the institution and students. We encourage everyone to sign our petition and read our demands so the student body can make this change together.”

An LSE Spokesperson said:

“While we do not comment on individual disciplinary investigations, we can confirm we have recently reviewed our processes around reports of sexual misconduct. A number of improvements are currently being taken forward to bring our approach into line with best practice.

“Alongside other measures, we are implementing a new ‘report and support system’, which will enable us to address issues more quickly and consistently; we plan to make greater use of external investigators in the future and we have employed a specialist member of staff with expertise in sexual misconduct and violence.

“LSE is committed to a working and learning environment where people can achieve their full potential free of all types of harassment and violence. We take reports of sexual harassment extremely seriously and encourage any member of the LSE community who has experienced or witnessed this to get in touch via one of our many channels, which allow students and staff to make anonymous reports and access specialist support.”

Featured image via HandsOff LSE

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