Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault
Delphine Laurent, a fellow student at Edinburgh College of Art has made public accusations of sexual harrassment by another student at our school. Since then, numerous other women have reached out to support Delphine by sharing their own experiences with the alleged perpetrator. Finally, the alleged perpetrator has filed a harassment and bullying complaint against Delphine, triggering a Code of Student Conduct Investigation. As such, the University has contacted her, and has demanded that she remove ‘any and all social media posts’ concerning the alleged perpetrator and his family. Delphine’s legal advisor has assured her that the posts she shared did not constitute defamation of character or harassment/bullying because they only contained screenshoots in which the perpetrator admitted guilt and was being verbally violent. However, the University has threatened that failure to comply with the demands to remove posts will mean that Delphine can face ‘further action Under the Code of Student Conduct.’
The following letter, written by Haizea Garate Lee, outlines the ways in which our University’s existing framework of resources fails to support victims of sexual harassment/assault.
I, Haizea Garate Lee, and fellow students signed below stand in support of Delphine Laurent with regard to the harassment and bullying complaint filed against her. We stand against the shaming and silencing of accusers. The University must improve its safety on campus, signpost the appropriate procedures to support and protect victims from harassment.
Steps must be taken to make students aware of the resources available and the procedures that exist should they fall victim to harassment. Victims of SA post allegations on social media as a means by which to warn others of predators and to call out sexual violence. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the lack of transparency from the University regarding ongoing investigations against individuals. There needs to be a safe forum in which students can warn others of possible dangers. The fact that Delphine resorted to social media to share and warn of her experience shows that the University’s existing framework and resources do not provide this.
Actions need to be taken to break the cycle of sexual violence. First and foremost, we can start by addressing, thereby normalising discussions of sexual assault. Unfortunately, The University’s choice to censor Delphine achieves the exact opposite.
We stand in solidarity with Delphine and we are deeply dissatisfied with the University’s response in this case, which echoes grossly outdated attitudes of victim-blaming.
If you are a student at the University of Edinburgh, sign the letter here