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Today, we accept the findings of the independent review into our disciplinary and appeals processes and welcome its recommendations. It is clear from Dr Persaud’s report that we made some mistakes and we apologise for this – in particular, in how we communicated with the victims. Sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind is completely unacceptable and we are committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the Warwick community. We are determined that, by continuing to work together with our students, staff and wider Warwick community, we will build on the steps we have already taken, deliver our action plan and report back regularly on our progress.
Our vision for this work must be ambitious. We want to go even further than Dr Persaud’s recommendations, so that we can learn from our mistakes, improve and develop our processes, and offer what we have learned to others so that universities across the country can benefit.
We must also be clearer about what this means for the university as a whole – being explicit about what our community stands for. Our vision must be to cultivate an environment where prejudice and socially unacceptable behaviour of any kind are never tolerated, and where students and staff have pride in, and commitment to, our values.
Over the forthcoming months we will have overhauled our processes, how we manage our work, and how we communicate with all those concerned in cases such as these. To ensure we clearly communicate our progress, we will provide updates every quarter. We have a clear statement of principles setting out what we in the Warwick community stand for, and will continue to work together to embed this throughout our community. And we will be honest – that if you do not support those values, as a student applicant or as an applicant for a staff role, then Warwick is not the place for you.
We know that we have made mistakes, and we are determined to put that right for the long-term. That will take commitment, time and investment – all of which we will do. This will be the focus of our work in achieving our vision of a positive Warwick community.
Following the publication of the independent review there is a considerable programme of work to address and implement the recommendations within Dr Persaud’s report. A working group, led by the University’s Registrar, Rachel Sandby-Thomas, has mapped out the workstreams and appropriate timescales to co-ordinate these areas, drawing on internal and external expertise as appropriate.
In terms of these timescales, ‘Phase 1’ refers to the period up to the start of the 2019-20 academic year, so effectively before the end of September 2019. ‘Phase 2’ refers from the beginning of the 2019-20 academic year and over the next 18 months. If we can complete any of the activities in these workstreams faster than that, we will.
There are five themes that the implementation plan is focusing on: transparency, policies, process, embedding, and communications.
Read about the implementation plan below, which sets out our immediate priorities. We will continue to keep this updated during the programme of activities.
We are committed to implementing Dr Persaud’s recommendations, and will identify a clear reporting structure and timetable. We will provide our Warwick community with timely updates on progress - doing this in a way that ensures accountability. We will provide reports to our Council every quarter, sharing with the University Executive Board and publishing them online.
We are overhauling our current policies relating to student discipline and expected behaviours to reflect our revised values and guiding principles.
Our immediate focus is on student sexual misconduct: a new policy for student sexual misconduct is now being written, and a review of wider student discipline policies will follow.
We are going to revise the Dignity at Warwick policy so that it is informed by the sexual misconduct policy.
We are reviewing all our current procedures and processes relating to student discipline against the report’s recommendations. This includes improving our procedures and our training, and making sure that the resources are in place to ensure we can deliver these improvements.
We’re developing an end-to-end procedure for student sexual misconduct, which covers our work from first disclosure through to resolution, including the mechanisms and teams to provide support for students. We will adapt our other student discipline procedures to reflect this new end-to-end sexual misconduct procedure.
We’re currently scoping requirements for an online reporting tool that provide a further route to make reporting sexual misconduct to the university more straightforward and provide further access to support and guidance. We’re also bringing together systems into one comprehensive case management system.
Alongside the sexual misconduct procedure, we are developing a sanctions framework to support the new student sexual misconduct policy, with regulations 23 and 27 to be reviewed.
We will create a code of conduct that incorporates our guiding principles. This code of conduct will state our expected behaviours, and will be a key part of the embedding work stream outlined below.
We now have three external specialist investigators in role, and we are providing specialist training for ‘first responders’, Investigating Officers, panel members and chairs.
We are looking at requirements to provide additional training for anybody that is involved in sexual misconduct and disciplinary procedures, and more generalist training and guidance to students and staff in line with the recommendations in the independent review.
In order to make the above improvements to our disciplinary and appeal processes and procedures, we are reviewing the discipline team requirements we have in both the short term, and the longer term to support the complex and sensitive student discipline cases
Working with our Warwick community so that our values and expected behaviours are re-affirmed. Making training and support available and accessible to empower staff and students in calling out unacceptable behaviours.
Work has been carried out to update our online training module which we are also re-naming from ‘Respect’ to ‘Warwick Values’ so that it’s easier to identify as being part of our values awareness and involvement initiative.
We are piloting a new ‘Community Values Education Programme’ in the upcoming Welcome Week which will be created in collaboration with our wider Warwick community. The programme will develop over terms 1 and 2.
Improving how we communicate our expected behaviours to the Warwick community and support those affected while better signposting to our relevant policies and procedures. In addition, developing clear guidance as to what happens when these are breached and likely sanctions that will follow.
Further details on the implementation including key milestones and priorities will be reported every quarter to the University’s governing body, the Council. Priority is currently being given to those areas that can be revised and delivered ahead of the new academic year to provide support and assurance to new and returning students.