The Glasgow Guardian spoke to the “Murano 12” following the “victim-blaming” statement about them from the University.
Hours after publishing the reported injustices faced by the so-called “Murano 12”, the University of Glasgow responded to our query for a statement to defend their alleged lack of compassion. The students involved were appalled by the official response issued, releasing a statement via Twitter that described their disappointment at the continued victim-blaming and the lacking acknowledgement of failures where previously they had been admitted.
The Glasgow Guardian went back to hear and share the students’ experiences, and detailed below are the details of our conversation conducted with four members of the flat. They give more details about the original allegations and make further comments about their interactions with the University and Robert Partridge.
In their reference to the series of events experienced by the Murano 12, the University stated: “We asked the students in this flat to leave after multiple Covid breaches and significant damage to University property for which no reasonable explanation was offered”.
The break in:
GG: Can you give us a brief overview of the first incident that this chain of events stemmed from?
Resident: “Basically, two boys just walked into our flat and were knocking on the girl’s door, telling her to come out. One of the other girls had messaged me: ‘Can you ask them to leave?’ So I went out and asked them to go. The guys started making threatening remarks. They kept patting me in the chest, patronising me. As they were walking out, they stopped and then they attacked me at the door, pushing me and swinging a punch. After that a fight broke out, but we managed to actually get them out of the flat. When they left the flat, we just locked the door. They ran out of the main building and then we called security. A large group of about 20 to 30 people came back. We had opened the door to let one of the other girls in, and when the boys from outside saw that we’d opened our flat door, they then booted the door and about twenty of them came charging in, and a massive fight broke out on the stairs.”
GG: Did security intervene?
Resident: “Well, security had been called after the first two boys had left. But by the time a massive fight had broken out, security were spotted by a friend still walking over, quite casually. This is after they’d been told that two people had broken into our flat, and also after a second call, as someone from a neighbouring flat had phoned again when the massive fight had broken out. Because the front doors weren’t working, two of the girls ended up being sexually harassed, and I was assaulted: I had a black eye, and I’ve got a scar on my knee. It’s beyond a joke.”
The students raised a number of concerns with the way that their complaints were handled, especially given the sensitivity of some of the issues they experienced. We sorted the issues they described into problems relating to student welfare, security in halls and their meetings, both in person and virtual, with University staff.
In the University’s official response they state: “We have always made clear that support is available for all students through our health, wellbeing and welfare services”. The residents claim otherwise.
GG: Did you ever get asked about how you were feeling and were you ever notified about any welfare support available?
Resident 1: “(laughing) ..no, no, hahaha, no.”
Resident 3: “We were told there would be support given to us, but no one ever came.”
Resident 4: “LSA’s [living support assistants] stopped by for two minutes to drop off some leaflets. That was it.”
GG: Did Robert Patridge mention any resources to cope with the sexual assault?
Residents 3&4: “No, not at all.”
Resident 1: “To summarise how bad the meetings were when one of the girls got upset about previous sexual assault, he [Robert Partridge] said something like, ‘You make yourself targets by posting on social media.’ This is whilst every one of the girls is crying.”
The University stated that, following the events, “support staff have undertaken checks on security and safety in all residences and found no issues of note”. The residents involved continue to highlight the failings of the block door’s which in an email to the residents, Robert Partridge conceded was an issue of note and they would subsequently be replaced however this would not be done until next year despite the safety concerns.
GG: Why do you think the events occurred?
Resident 1: “Because our front door doesn’t work, two of the girls got sexually assaulted and I got physically assaulted. It’s beyond a joke”
Resident 2: “We should be able to feel safe in our block. Robert [Partridge] kept saying the damages were our fault because at the time our door wasn’t locked, but the problem here is that people can kick a magnetic door in.”
Resident 1: “Bear in mind this wasn’t the first time someone had broken in and assaulted me. In October, our flat door was kicked in, and it wasn’t boys from Murano. They threatened to hit one of the girls, and another massive fight broke out. The glass panel on the door was kicked in, and we reported that to security then too.”
Resident 3: “This wouldn’t happen if we had secure front doors. Partridge refused to acknowledge the security problem, also saying that they had upped numbers of security in December. But these problems happened in January and February, so that’s irrelevant. When we gave feedback about the doors, Partridge emailed us back saying it would cost £100,000. He said ‘It’s not going to be a police state just to compensate for the doors not working.'”
Resident 2: “He came across patronising and snide, saying: ‘Because your flat door wasn’t locked, that’s on you.’ The fundamental issue is that they can’t be bothered to invest in safe doors.”
Meetings with the University:
GG: What were the meetings you had with Murano management and Robert Partridge like, following the events?
Resident 4: “At the first meeting, they kept saying, ‘You’re so close; it’s so nice to see.’”
Resident 2: “Yeah, they told my mum: ‘It’s so nice they are close, but they’re clearly hiding something.’”
Resident 4: “Robert Partridge had said something to our parents in an email or call, like ‘They’re so loyal to each other; their stories actually match up.’”
GG: What was said in these meetings?
Resident 3: “He [Partridge] insinuated that the boys that broke in were buying or selling drugs from us. Even though the reason they were at Murano was because they were visiting another flat.”
Resident 1: “His exact words were: ‘Were they coming to buy or sell something?’”
Resident 2: “He just kept saying he didn’t believe us, and that our story doesn’t add up.”
Resident 1: “Because I’d been physically attacked, Robert Partridge made a comment to me about getting into fights; he thinks I’m some kind of UFC fighter.”
GG: Did you realise when you were emailed that Robert Partridge’s threat of eviction was not a formal eviction notice from the University?
Resident 1: “We thought [it was]; we just sat in the corridor crying.”
There appears to have been a lack of communication between Partridge, the flat residents and other members of staff in Murano regarding the eviction of the students.
Resident 2: “Our block manager came in asking why we were upset. She didn’t know we were being evicted.”
Resident 4: “We found out a lot of the details of this eviction notice from our parents. Robert Partridge hadn’t told us about the 28 day notice period. Only a few parents were provided with this information after they got in touch.”
Resident 3: “He had said to us in previous meetings that he would always be contactable if we needed, and yet after he emailed telling us that we were being told to leave the flat, he wouldn’t respond to our emails. It was about 24 hours before we heard back.”
Despite the nature of the events that occurred, and the description of the events in the previous “Murano 12” article, the University statement issued later that day claimed that the eviction was as a consequence of Covid-19 breaches. However, in the email correspondence seen by The Glasgow Guardian between the flat residents and Robert Partridge, including the informal notice of eviction, there was no mention of Covid-19 breaches as being the cause for eviction.
GG: So did the University go down the official channels regarding the Covid-19 breaches?
Resident 2: “Well, now they’re using that.”
Resident 3: “The start of the [eviction] threats stemmed from the first event.”
Resident 1: “I have personally never had a record of a Covid-19 breach, and yet our flat has been issued with a blanket warning. They can’t punish us all for breaching Covid-19 restrictions when we haven’t all been involved.”