Conversations around consent on campus all too often end up being about women being groped on nights out, reports of rape being mishandled by the universities they report to, and victims left having to see their assailant on campus, day in, day out.
That's why it's pretty great news that the University of Sussex, previously accused of covering up allegations of sexual harassment and violence, has barred a student charged with rape from campus. Liam Allen, 21, was banned from campus during an investigation sparked by allegations made against him in October 2016. He has now been charged with rape and will next be due in court for a trial hearing in October this year.
Even though Allen wasn't allowed to get onto the university's campus in Falmer, East Sussex, he continued his studies over Skype. But, reports The Guardian, his solicitor has called for an end to this ban, insisting that this is a 'critical year', and that 'he should be able to attend the campus'.
However, the university, which has 15,000 students, insists that they are simply following bail conditions set by the courts.
'When we are made aware of any police investigation involving one of our students,' a spokesperson said, 'we always cooperate fully with any bail conditions and consider whether we would need to take any precautionary action of our own.
'In some cases, the police may impose bail conditions which prohibit a student’s attendance at university or them entering the grounds of the university. In all such cases, the health, safety and well-being of our students remains our highest priority.'
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This is a neat about-turn from the last sexual violence issue to make headlines for the university. In 2016, the institution failed to suspend senior lecturer Lee Salter even after he was convicted of assaulting postgraduate student Allison Smith. A subsequent independent inquiry found that the university had gauged how safe Salter was in the presence of other students simply by asking him to vouch for himself, not by asking his victim about her experience of him. In short - he beat her up and rubbed salt in her eyes, and is now, finally, sacked from the university.
At the time of the inquiry, the University of Sussex pledged to do better, and now it seems to have at least abided by bail conditions set by a court. But this is just a baby step of a long trek.
Over the years, the UK has imported a dangerous pseudo frat-boy culture from American college movies of yore, where it collided with public school-bred feelings of entitlement and alcohol to create a fatberg-y conglomeration of gross, mostly white, mostly male abusers hurting others and getting away with it. Over in the USA in 2014, Columbia University art student Emma Sulkowicz carried the mattress on which she was raped around with her for a year. She even took it to graduation to make her point. A task force was set up to deal with campus rape in the US, but Trump's education pick Betsy DeVos is setting about dismantling it. Better, though, in the UK, a task force investigated the issue and provided recommendations to universities to 'change the culture'.
But it's not just the students who are at it: an FOI investigation by* The Guardian* in January found that sexual harassment on campus at the hands of staff is 'at epidemic levels'.
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.