A message from Women’s Officer, Lola Olufemi
Thank you to everyone who tied ribbons to Senate House last week and all those who spoke and attended the discussion at Senate House about reforming the Disciplinary Procedure so that it no longer relies on a criminal standard of proof (beyond reasonable doubt) but the balance of probabilities. The speeches were powerful, meaningful, and most importantly, highlighted the institution’s failings loud and clear. The Women’s Campaign has been at the forefront of this fight for years, and we understand the importance of long-term pressure. It is important to debrief and to think about what comes next – the fight is far from over, but yesterday we signalled our commitment to it, and university officials can no longer pretend that this issue does not have the backing of large proportion of the student body or that they are unwilling to mobilise for it.
I think it’s important to draw attention to the men who used this event to lie about rape statistics, share their bizarre anecdotes and completely misrepresent the aims of the Women’s Campaign. What is clear is that men must do better – to hold each other to account and consider the ways, that often, sexism forms the basis of arguments against survivor-centered approaches to formal procedures.
“For within structures defined by profit, by linear power, by institutional dehumanization, our feelings were not meant to survive. Kept around as unavoidable adjuncts or pleasant pastimes, feelings were meant to kneel to thought as we were meant to kneel to men. But women have survived.” – Audre Lorde, Poetry is not a Luxury
REGARDING THE NEXT STEPS IN OUR CAMPAIGNING ON THE DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE:
Today (Tues, 8th May), the University is launching a consultation document on proposed reforms to the disciplinary procedure. This document will include a number of reforms that have been proposed by different bodies – The Office of Student Conduct, Complaints and Appeals, The Women’s Campaign, and information gathered from feedback from DOS’ and tutors. They would like responses to this document from any member of the university (staff and student). On Tuesday, they will release the document on the university website and ask students to provide their feedback via email.
We need to flood the consultation with testimonials and thoughts on why the standard of proof must be changed. This can include the statements read out at Senate House, bullet points with arguments, personal stories, and so on.
Crucially, to add weight to the argument that students would support a change in the standard of proof used in disciplinary matters from beyond reasonable doubt to the balance of probabilities, we have to show that there is strong student support for this by the sheer volume of responses. Please have a read of the consultation document and send your written responses to OSCCA@admin.cam.ac.uk (one ‘S’, two ‘C’s) by Friday 22 June 2018. Appendix C clearly outlines the different standards of proof. ANY feedback is welcome but feedback pertaining SPECIFICALLY to the reasons why the disciplinary procedure is encouraged – if we can get as many responses like this as possible, we become impossible to ignore.
The consultation closes on the 22nd June.