On Friday afternoon, it was revealed by the Independent that a tutor who beat up his student girlfriend and was convicted of assault remained employed by the university I have spent three years with. Sussex prides itself on being a safe place, where people can be themselves, which made the news that this vile man was able to continue teaching despite the protests of his victim even more disgraceful.
This anger at the lack of action by the University in the weeks since his sentence was issued inspired me to set up a petition to call on Sussex to fire him with immediate effect.
I would not have anticipated that, within 48 hours of the story being published, the petition would have attracted over 2,600 signatures from current students, alumni, and other members from across the world, and be shared widely on social media – including by Sussex alumni and ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ star Jolyon Rubinstein. The combined pressure from the petition, the NUS and the Students’ Union, as well as the bad press for the University in the run-up to A-level results day on Thursday, shamed Sussex to take action and remove the tutor from their employment.
I’d like to thank everyone who supported the petition; those who signed showed that they would not allow Sussex to employ someone so morally bankrupt and to demand management to take student safety much more seriously.
Although we have had a victory in ensuring this man will no longer teach anyone again, there is more to do. Now our focus must turn to making sure that Sussex’s actions match its words, by doing more to protect student safety and to treat cases of abuse reported by students and staff with the seriousness and gravity they deserve.
That is something that can’t be done by one petition alone, but it’s a start. In the next academic year, we need to come together to campaign to make sure this happens, so that students know they are safe studying at Sussex and know that they will be taken sincerely if the worst happens.