Open Letter from Professor Rebecca Earle to Warwick History Students
Dear Warwick history students,
I was intending to write to you tomorrow to let you know that after five years serving as an outstanding head of department, Professor Dan Branch will be stepping down to become the Chair of the Faculty of Arts. I’ll be taking over as department head, and I wanted to say hello.
The need to write to you has however become much more urgent.
I am sure you are aware of the continuing and distressing situation resulting from last year's group chats. You may have seen the University’s official statement, as well as the multiple reports in the press. The department is deeply concerned about the impact of these recently-reported events on our community.
We in the department have tried hard to provide as much moral and academic support as we can to the individuals affected by this case. We will continue to work to limit its impact on the studies of the women involved, and also to provide the necessary structures to support this. This has been a priority since the incidents first came to light.
We also recognise the need to address the challenges posed to the department as a whole.
Although the department had absolutely no input into the disciplinary cases, and although we are bound by a legal requirement to uphold the confidentiality of all students involved, we feel a pressing need to make sure that our students have a chance to fully express their views on this case.
We are currently in discussion with the University with the aim of organising a series of meetings for you to meet with representatives from the administration who can answer questions about the situation and listen to your concerns. Your legitimate and very understandable unhappiness need to be addressed right now. We will also work to design the necessary mechanisms to ensure that next academic year is not blighted by the after-effects of the toxic events of last year.
When the case first received public attention last summer, Dan Branch wrote to all of you to stress the department’s commitment to supporting any student who experiences misogyny, racism, homophobia or any other form of prejudice. Any such behaviour is unacceptable and runs contrary to the ethos of the department. This commitment remains central to our principles as a community. Please contact your personal tutor or myself if there is anything that you wish to bring to our attention, whether that be something that you have been subjected to yourself or have witnessed.
I’ll be writing again as soon as I have details about the meetings we are hoping to set up.