Mandatory “Got Consent” workshops, national and international media coverage, JSOC’s meeting with the University Proctor, and statements from Police Scotland and the Scottish Government have all followed the creation of the Instagram page St Andrews Survivors.
St Andrews Survivors was created on Thursday 2 July 2020, and within 30 hours of being active, were sent over 100 anonymous submissions of allegations of sexual misconduct at the University of St Andrews. Multiple claims, which have since been removed from the page, implicated the fraternity AEPi, University societies and other students as the perpetrators of sexual misconduct.
St Andrews Survivors has not only caught the attention of the University’s students but has reached both national and international news outlets such as The Telegraph, the BBC, The Times, The Scottish Sun, the Scottish Daily Record, the Daily Mail and CNN. Coverage of the allegations has also extended as far as Vietnam, South Korea, and Romania.
The Instagram page follows a trend of similar pages worldwide that aim to share experiences of sexual misconduct at universities.
CNN’s headline read, “Scandal erupts at prestigious British university, after students accuse several members of US-style frat house of sexual assault.”
The University announced via a statement to The Telegraph that Got Consent workshops would become a mandatory module in orientation for all students in September 2020.
Got Consent “is a student led initiative aiming to raise awareness of sexual misconduct, educate students in bystander intervention and support survivors.”
The online class will be compulsory for all of the University’s 9,000 students.
Dan Marshall, president of the Student Association, stated this in social media posts concerning The Telegraph‘s article, whilst also advocating for the hard work of students to be recognised.
Mr Marshall said, “For the avoidance of doubt, students will be completing mandatory consent training because of the fantastic work of Got Consent and other student volunteers over many years and not because of a Telegraph investigation. Those students involved deserve enormous credit and their work deserves to be recognised.”
On 10 July, the Jewish Society (JSOC) met with Clare Peddie, the University Proctor, and shared an outline of the meeting in a recent Instagram post.
The topics of the meeting included a discussion about recent antisemitism fears claimed by the University.
The St Andrews Survivors’ administrator posted on Monday 6 July 2020, that the Proctor advised them to omit posts and names that “referenced a specific on-campus group or society” due to multiple issues, one being antisemitism.
JSOC’s point of view was elaborated upon in their Instagram post.
They said, “We at JSOC highlighted our disappointment with the University’s use of the word ‘antisemitism’ when talking action against the St Andrews Survivors page…We also conveyed the idea that although the Fraternity is a Jewish Fraternity, we felt that Students were criticizing toxic masculinity that such an all male space tends to create rather than the faith they were born to.”
Other topics discussed were a recent student questionnaire, Student Services, lack of response from the University, broader issues of rape culture at the University, and Got Consent. JSOC will also be releasing a report which goes into more detail about this continuing discussion.
JSOC finished by saying: “We thank you all for your support so far and hope that this statement provides hope that proactive steps are being made to support students.”
In AEPi St Andrews’ original statement on 7 July 2020 concerning the allegations, they stated that the fraternity would follow up with public updates on the progress of their commitments detailed. No such update has yet been published.
Yvonne Stenhouse, Police Scotland’s community inspector for North East Fife, said, “We are aware of these online reports and are working with the university to make sure students in St Andrews feel safe while they live and study in the town.”
She continued, “We are committed to bringing sexual offenders before the courts and treat all reports of sexual crime with the utmost seriousness.”
Fife Police Division encouraged victims to come forward in a Facebook post last night.
They said, “To date, no reports have been made to Police Scotland.”
Detective Inspector Kelly McEwan, from the Fife Division Public Protection Unit said, “We will always treat reports of sexual offences with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism. Victims will be supported and any reports will be thoroughly investigated. I want to encourage anyone who has been the victim of a sexual crime not to hesitate and to call us on 101 or 999 in emergency. Alternatively, an anonymous report can be made via the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
The Scottish Government urged survivors to contact the police in a statement to The Telegraph.
A spokesperson said, “University and college campuses should be places where students can live, study, and research free from sexual harassment and gender based violence.”
“This includes fostering a culture that is clear in its condemnation of gender-based violence and gives staff and students the confidence to report unacceptable behaviour.”
“We would encourage anyone who has been the victim of any such crime, or has information relating to any allegations, to contact the police immediately as these are criminal matters.”
“The Scottish Government recognises the devastating impact that all sexual assaults can have, and we are committed to working with justice and third sector partners to ensure that complainers are supported to help them effectively engage with the justice system.”
On Monday 13 July 2020, Willie Rennie, MSP for North East Fife, addressed the issue in his constituency, calling for an investigation by the police to replace AEPi’s internal probe.
Mr Rennie said, “This is not an issue for AEPi to resolve themselves; it has gone well beyond that. If AEPi knows anything about what has gone on and who is involved they must step up and do the right thing.”
“These are deeply worrying allegations that deserve a thorough investigation by the authorities and the complainants deserve our full support.”
This came as the Scottish Liberal Democrats, which Mr Rennie is the leader of, called on AEPi St Andrews to “identify members implicated in offences to the police.”
On Wednesday 15 July 2020, The Times reported a comment from a source close to AEPi who stated that the group had “proactively reached out to the local police offering to talk and help.”
AEPi have not made a public statement regarding this.
St Andrews Survivors have since reiterated the aim of their platform to “expose the reality of sexual abuse in our community, de-normalise sexual violence, validate the experiences of survivors, de-stigmatise open conversation about sexual assault, encourage people to reflect on the ways rape culture is perpetuated in our community, and create a safe space in which survivors feel empowered to share their stories anonymously.”
Furthermore, the group of administrators restated that their platform is not affiliated with the University of St Andrews and that they will instead work with the institution to implement improvements for “student safety” and “survivor support.”
If you, or someone you know, have been affected by issues highlighted in this article, please visit the following groups for help and advice:
Email: email@example.com with the subject: Support Report
Telephone: 01334 462020
Telephone: 01592 642336
Telephone: 08088 01 03 02
Telephone: 01592 644217