By Max Kendix and Waseem Mohamed
Two students have been expelled from Durham University following “a serious breach” of the University’s sexual misconduct and violence policy.
Two other students will face a one-year exclusion period, also for violating the sexual misconduct and violence policy. One further student has been permanently expelled following a conviction for a serious criminal offence.
The news brings the total number of student expulsions since September to seven, and the number of year-long exclusions to four, including three for sexual misconduct.
Separately, since the start of the pandemic, 57 Durham students have faced exclusions for set periods of time for breaches of Covid-19 regulations, and two have been expelled.
The Senate Discipline Committee said: “As part of our drive to ensure we create a respectful and inclusive University culture, we expect staff and students to adhere to the University’s values on behaviour and our regulations on conduct.”
“If a student breaks the law or breaches University regulations, we take swift and decisive action. In addition, we have committed to our community that we will promptly investigate, take action and provide support when our students disclose or report instances of sexual misconduct or violence to us.”
The Committee noted that “this approach has seen an increase in cases reported to us, but we see this as our community growing in confidence that we will act appropriately in response to such reports; and we are resolved that it will not deter us from our commitment.”
Last year, Durham University hired two former police officers as permanent investigators of misconduct, one of whom has particular experience in handling sexual violence cases. It made Durham the first UK university to have two and one of only three – alongside Bath and Bristol – with any at all.
In an interview with Palatinate at the time, Jeremy Cook OBE, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Colleges and Student Experience, said that tackling sexual violence was a key priority for the University’s Executive Committee (UEC). “One area that we looked at as well in the University is looking at trying to speed up the process, because justice delayed is justice denied to some extent. The University is working really hard to increase the agility and the speed of our conduct processes.”
“It’s about being demonstrable,” Cook went on to say. “The students tell me, ‘That’s great Jeremy, but we want to see more of that, we want to see you doing things and taking action and showing us that you mean what you say’. And for me that’s really, really important. ”
Image: Les Hull via Creative Commons