In Brief

‘Rape group’ students allowed to return to Warwick University

Five men were kicked out over sick social media messages but can now resume their studies following appeal

Students who were booted out of University of Warwick after threatening to rape female undergraduates are to be allowed to return to their studies later this year.

A total of 11 men were involved in a Facebook group chat in which they joked about assaulting women and encouraged each other to rape specific fellow students. They group members faced “a fierce backlash last year when screenshots of the disturbing messages were revealed”, reports Metro.

One of the messages said: “Sometimes it’s fun to just go wild and rape 100 girls”, while another urged a member complaining about a female flatmate to “rape the whole flat to teach them all [a] lesson”.

At one point, a user wrote: “Rape her in the street while everybody watches.” Another responded that it “wouldn’t even be unfair”.

Some of the messages also contained racist and anti-Semitic slurs, says the Daily Mirror.

The row was first reported last summer by Warwick student newspaper The Boar.

A disciplinary investigation was subsequently launched by the university, in response to complaints from girls named in the messages, and five of the group chat students were suspended.

Two were banned for ten years - but have now had that reduced to one year after appealing to the university. Another two were excluded for one year, and one was given a lifetime campus ban.

This means “four out of the five of the men initially suspended will rejoin classes in September 2019”, says the BBC.

Prior to the appeal decision, the university had said that “the two original complainants should have completed their degrees before any of those five individuals are due to return to campus”.

But following the verdict, one of the women told The Boar: “I wanted to do a master’s here but that’s not an option anymore. Other girls who were named and talked about in the chat are still going to be here next year in the same department.”

In an open letter to the university, another of the female students targeted in the chat said: “We were discussed so violently. We were humiliated, as if for sport. These boys were my friends - like my brothers. And they destroyed me.

“You expect us to return from semesters abroad and study alongside these men? It is a source of shame for past, present and future Warwick alumni that you lack the courage to stand by us.”

Warwick Students’ Union president Liam Jackson told the newspaper: “It is absolutely clear that the university’s disciplinary processes need changing as soon as possible, and the union will continue to push for this in the coming days and weeks.”

In a statement, the university said: “[Our] focus since the conclusion of the investigation and disciplinary processes has been, and remains, to work to ensure that anyone involved in this matter who remains student at Warwick is able to complete their studies while minimising any further contact between the original complainants and anyone who received a sanction from the discipline committee.”

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