St Andrews Survivors criticise the University’s response to confidentiality concerns

They ‘feel overpowered and unprotected’

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Yesterday, the St Andrews Survivors Instagram page uploaded a post responding to the University’s press statement regarding the issue of confidentiality.

The Survivors also published their email correspondence with the University.

They said the University was “unwilling to budge on their insistence upon both confidentiality and mediation”. 

In response to the concerns about confidentiality, the Survivors said that the university asked the page admins to sign a confidentiality agreement and were only presented with the following two options:

“a) ‘voluntarily’ sign a mediation agreement accepting the terms of confidentiality and proceed to a mediation process in which [the Survivors] feel uncomfortable and unsafe, or

“b) not enter into mediation at all, and thus, as Lorna explained, ‘[choose] not to be involved in this process” in any capacity”.

They also said: “Once we expressed our concerns about confidentiality, the University did not address them in any capacity”. 

They accuse the University of backtracking in their statement, saying that they claimed to not ask for confidentiality yet later acknowledge they did ask for confidentiality.

The Survivors said the University “frame it as wanting to protect people from power disparities, but in reality they are the organisation with the power, not us. We are the ones that feel overpowered and unprotected within confidential discussions, not them”.  

The post says they repeatedly asked for alternative modes of communication but the University was not open to discussing or acknowledging their ideas and “have refused to acknowledge our concerns and clearly tell us their position” on “discrete points”.

They also said: “Almost every email response we received deflected our questions”. In fact, “the only response [they] received with a clear answer declared [them] at ‘an impasse'”.

The Survivors said of the University’s declaration they were at an impasse: “If the University truly believes us to be deadlocked; at an ‘impasse’, this necessarily means they are unwilling to budge on their insistence upon both confidentiality and mediation, and we therefore cannot move forward”. 

The post also says the Survivors “never rejected Ruth’s offer to contribute” and they did not question her mediation skills. They said: “What we do question, however, is the appropriateness of having a mediator as an independent party when she is a salaried employee of the University. That position is inconsistent with impartiality”. 

The University said: “Our interest is in meaningful dialogue, designed to support understanding. As promised, the Proctor will be meeting with Survivors tomorrow to discuss their concerns and community dialogue design. It would be neither courteous nor helpful to pre-empt these discussions”.
Photo by Molly Belle on Unsplash