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Strange response to bullying raises questions


Bristol University, bullying, statement of support, Raquel Rosario Sánchez, women's rights groups, discussion,disciplinary action, trans-identified student, Concerns that University of Bristol did nothing to ensure student’s safety during escalation.

Statement of Support for Raquel Rosario Sánchez:

We the undersigned would like to express our support for Raquel Rosario Sánchez, a feminist writer and researcher from the Dominican Republic who is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Bristol.

Raquel researches men’s violence against women and is studying at the university’s Centre for Gender and Violence Research. In the UK, Raquel works with campaigning organisations Woman’s Place UK, Fair Play for Women and FiLiA.

Since she arrived in Bristol, Raquel has been subjected to a persistent bullying campaign by a fellow student and others. Bristol University have taken no action to ensure her safety, protect her from abuse or to uphold her right to speak and to write. Her PhD scholarship and UK visa are now at risk.

In February 2018, Raquel chaired a Woman’s Place UK meeting in Bristol.

Woman’s Place UK was set up to facilitate open debate around proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, in anticipation of a public consultation. The major stakeholders in this debate, women, had thus far been shut out. When the consultation was held, it received over 53,000 responses. The government states: ‘We are committed to listening to all voices on this’.

The Centre for Gender and Violence Research is part of Bristol University’s School of Policy Studies. PhD students are encouraged to engage with real-world policy debates. Raquel was doing exactly this when she chaired a public meeting on a law and policy consultation which subsequently received a huge response, and for which the government had sought input from ‘all voices’.

When Raquel writes and speaks she does not call for those who disagree with her on sex and gender to be silenced. She seeks not to destroy the work of others but to create: she recently launched the ‘platform for unruly women’ Women Talk Back!, after helping to set up a feminist student society of the same name. She is interested in arguments and evidence, not personal attacks.

Those who disagree with Raquel do not accord her the same respect.

Because she chaired the WPUK meeting, and before it had even taken place, her fellow students called for it to be cancelled and for Raquel, a woman of colour who is an immigrant to the UK, to be ‘turfed out’.

Raquel made a student complaint about this bullying, and the university opened a disciplinary process against a trans-identified student, Nic Shall/Nic Aaron.

In this footage from April 2018, Shall/Aaron can be seen forcibly invading another women’s meeting in Bristol, organised by We Need To Talk, screaming: ‘I’m not she, you fucking cunt. My pronouns are they!’ and attacking the woman recording the footage.

Shall/Aaron’s fellow women’s meeting protester, trans-identified male Esther Betts, wrote in a Guardian article that the intention had been to let off smoke bombs in the enclosed meeting venue.

Far from ceasing, the targeting of Raquel escalated as the disciplinary process went on.

She had to face masked protesters when she went to give evidence and was cross-examined by Shall/Aaron’s barrister and university lawyers.

The university repeatedly advised Raquel that she did not need legal representation. Shall/Aaron has never been questioned.

Trans activists including Shall/Aaron followed Raquel to events inside and outside the university in order to target her, using the same tactics of masked protest, misogynist abuse, and threats of violence.

The University of Bristol did nothing to ensure Raquel’s safety during this escalation, which has now lasted for over twenty months.

In June 2019, the disciplinary process was closed with no explanation.

Raquel’s PhD supervisor, Head of the Centre for Gender and Violence Research Dr Emma Williamson, issued a public statement in August 2019 in which she asked the following questions (Student A is Raquel and Student B is Nic Shall/Aaron):

Who made the decision to terminate the complaint?

On what basis was that decision made?

Did that decision take into account the impact on confidence in the complaints procedure more generally?

Why did the University review the case early in 2019 and decide to continue, only to terminate it in June 2019?

Why was Student A repeatedly advised that she did not need to seek independent legal representation?

Why was student A allowed to be cross-examined by student B’s barrister during the first hearing in 2018, yet student B was asked no questions?

Why are those members of the University who advised student A, now no longer willing to meet and discuss the case with her?

Why has the University yet to make any statements disputing the claims which have been freely circulated on social media whilst the complaint was on-going (for over 18 months)?

What has the University done to ensure this student’s safety and protection from additional bullying during the complaints procedure?

These questions must be answered.

Twenty months ago, Raquel put her faith in Bristol University’s own policies and procedures. She had the obvious expectation of an outcome, good or bad. What she has now is worse than a bad outcome – she has no outcome at all. No way to know if she is safe in Bristol and the UK and no way to move forward, as the University refuses to provide answers.

Raquel has a right to study, speak and write without bullying, harassment and intimidation. She should not have to, but she has faced all this with dignity, strength and determination.

We are deeply alarmed that her rights have not been upheld here in the UK. Raquel’s current situation is the result of a great failure of politics in this country, and policy at the University of Bristol.

We are grateful that Raquel is here with us, making her unique and important contribution to women’s rights scholarship and activism.

Lynn Alderson
Kate Anderson
Enyo Ares
Brandy Baker, Baltimore, Maryland, United States
Jo Bartosch, Gloucester
Dr Kate Baxter
Kate Beaumont
Tess Beck
Ali Bee
Jacqui Beere, Bristol
Nicola Benge
Sheena Best
Dr Michael Biggs, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Oxford
Ruth Birchall, Bath
Dr Heather Brunskell-Evans
Cllr Lynne Caffrey
Dr Gus Cameron, University of Bristol
Elizabeth Carola
Marjorie Caw
Ali Ceesay
Donovan Cleckley
Lizbeth Collie
Kathryn Congdon
Sarah Cooksley
Danielle Cooper
Laura Corballis
Priscilla Corbett
Clare Crestani, Bath
Claire Darling
Bronwen Davies
Geraldine Davies
Stephanie Davies-Arai, Director, Transgender Trend
Ruth Dineen
Julie Dyball
Tamsin Evans, Bristol
Professor Gene Feder, Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol
Csilla Florian
Emma Flynn
Dr Geetanjali Gangoli, Centre for Gender and Violence Research, University of Bristol
Laura Gallagher
Jo Gaylor, Bristol
Wendy Lisa Gibbons
Esther Giles, Bristol
Alastair Green
Matthew Greenfield
CA Grenville, Bath
Jasmine Haque
Dr Diarmaid Harkin, Deakin University, University of Bristol alum
Dr Lynne Harne, Bristol University Alumna (PhD and post-doctoral research fellow)
Professor Marianne Hester Phd OBE FacSS, Chair in Gender, Violence & International Policy, University of Bristol
Paul Hewson PhD CStat CSci
Eleanor Hill, Cardiff
Elaine Hutton, Bristol
Helen Jack, Bristol
Bea Jaspert
Violeta Jiménez, Dominican Republic
Lisa Johnson, Bristol
Sarah Johnson

Dr Madeleine Jowett, former lecturer in Women’s Studies, Universities of Lancaster and Aberdeen

Stacy Dianne Kennedy
Jennifer Lavery, Musselburgh, Scotland
Cllr Sue Lent
Amanda Lesiatoi Bsc MSc, Bristol
Josephine Liptrott
Rebecca Lush
Emma MacLeod
Melissa Mallows
Claire Malone
Ellen Malos, University of Bristol
Dr Tara McCormack, University of Leicester
Dr Louise Moody, Philosopher
Dr Karen Morgan, University of Bristol
Dr Helen Mott, Bristol
May Mundt-Leach
Shaun Murphy
Monika Neall
Bo Novak Bsc (Econ), MSc
Dr Margaret L Page, Visiting Research Fellow, University of the West of England
Clarissa Payne, Bristol
Janet Pemberton, Bristol
Liz Pitt
Jo Priest, Bristol
Georgina Pugh
Sue Quinn Aziz
Jane Robertson, Human Resources, Kings College London
Sue Ross, Bristol
Tuscany Roux, Bristol
Deborah Rushton
Dr Lynnemarie Sardinha, World Health Organisation, Geneva
Helen Saxby
Cerian Smith
Emma Smith, North Somerset
Daniel Smith, University of Bristol Alumnus
Louise Somerville
Sara Stewart
Dr Teresa Swift
Hazel Tarragon, Worcestershire
Laura Tennant
Kim Thomas
Lara Thompson, MSc
Dr Georgina Toye
Pilgrim Tucker
Steve Veal
Julian Vigo
Helen Watts
Rebekah Wershbale
Florence Weston, Bristol
Bev White
Angela C. Wild
Shanthie Wild, Bristol East Labour Party
Dr Nicola Williams, Fair Play for Women
Dr Emma Williamson, Associate Professor/Reader in Gender Based Violence, University of Bristol
Alison Wren Bsc MSc, Bristol
Miranda Yardley
Janice Williams, OBJECT

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