Protests on the Piazza for student welfare continue
‘2, 4, 6, 8. Stop the violence. Stop the rape’
Another protest was held at Warwick University on Sunday 23rd May in the piazza for student welfare, co-organised by Shame on you Warwick (SOYW) and Protect Warwick Women (PWW).
The demonstration included accounts from survivors of sexual misconduct on campus (including talks about the impact of events on their university experience) and speeches from the organisers. There were also chants, one being: “2, 4, 6, 8. Stop the violence. Stop the rape.”
The protest stemmed from broken-down communication, a lack of clarity and continued inaction from the uni regarding student welfare. The organisers themselves commented that the demonstration “showed how little progress has been made due to the University’s incompetency.”
Emilie Eisenburg, the founder of Shame on You Warwick, highlighted the protest’s low turnout. She stated: “The turnout is dropping by every event which is a sign of activism burnout and students losing momentum, which is kind of inevitable but really sad.
“Probably around 50 people came which is nothing compared to the 400 plus people who attended the first day of the sit-in”.
Speaking about the atmosphere of the protest, she said: “The overall tone is continued anger but also so much fatigue and weariness from the organisers.”
Brin Arnold also spoke out against the University, stating: “Even though the University refuses to seek legal advice on the limits they can push in order to prevent those who have admitted to raping and sexually assaulting students from being on campus, they have no problem seeking legal advice on how they can ignore our protest without consequence.
“It is shocking and disgusting that the most powerful staff at this University are content to let students freeze without heating in the pouring rain and sleep on the ground of their Piazza as long they don’t have to spend their precious time and money on making this University a safe space.”
Despite being asked to leave, PWW have not deoccupied the Piazza until their list of updated conditions is met by the University. They have also launched an ‘Open Letter to Stuart Croft and Warwick University’. It has been signed by more than 660 students and calls for Warwick to adhere to the updated demands of PWW.
In response to the continued protests, Warwick is introducing new measures in the upcoming academic year, including an ‘Active Bystander’ workshop for all incoming students, a compulsory session discussing consent during Welcome Week, and an introductory awareness session on Report and Support for every academic department.
The uni also stated: “We know that students in the Protect Warwick Women group have published further concerns and that these have been discussed with members of the wider community. We’d like to ask PWW to have these discussions with us directly via our established channels so that we can continue to improve our approach collectively.
“We believe that working in partnership is the most effective way of finding long-term solutions. Ultimately, we all share the same determination to tackle sexual misconduct and to ensure all members of our community feel safe.”
If you or someone you know has been affected by issues raised in this story, sources of support are available from The Survivors Trust, Refuge, Victim Support and Womens Aid
Wellbeing Services on campus are available here. Further information support regarding sexual violence on campus can be found here.