The letter is signed by five women who were involved in Al Jazeera’s recent investigation into the handling of sexual harassment allegations at the University.
Five women who were involved in Al Jazeera’s “Degrees of Abuse” investigation series, which looked at the way sexual harassment claims made against a former University of Glasgow lecturer and PhD student were handled, have sent an open letter addressed to Principal Anton Muscatelli demanding more be done.
According to Al Jazeera, former PhD student Ehsas Zahid Khan had complaints against him brought to the senate by two different women. Khan was accused of being a “compulsive liar”, of “harassment”, and of having forcibly “put his tongue into [the] mouth” of former lecturer Becca Harrison when she refused to kiss him. Meanwhile, former geography lecturer Dr Ian Shaw had accusations made against him by four different women, with experiences of emotional and ultimately sexual manipulation. He denies all accusations.
“Former geography lecturer Dr Ian Shaw had accusations made against him by four different women, with experiences of emotional and ultimately sexual manipulation.”
Al Jazeera’s investigation describes how the women felt failed by the complaints procedure and highlights systematic issues such as the fact that multiple complaints made against the same person are not considered together, and that during a police case, universities suspend their own investigations.
The letter is addressed to the University’s principal Anton Muscatelli in response to his statement put out on 29 October, following the release of Al Jazeera’s investigation, in which he announced the initiation of an independent external examination into University processes regarding the reporting of gender-based violence and sexual harassment, and stated “we can, and will, do more.”
The letter, signed by Dr Esther Hitchen, Dr Emma Cardwell, Lauren MacDonald, Tayler Henderson, and Courtney Walker, called Muscatelli’s statement an “inadequate response to the severity of the failings by the University of Glasgow”. While the independent review was welcomed, the letter complains that the statement failed to acknowledge the fact that it was prompted by Al Jazeera’s investigation or to “promise any concrete changes”.
The letter goes on to say that the University has not reached out to any of the women who shared their experiences in the report to apologise or offer support, and that there are still students and staff at the University who were affected by Dr Ian Shaw’s behaviour and who require support.
“…the University has not reached out to any of the women who shared their experiences in the report to apologise or offer support…”
A list of concerns are given in regard to the way the women’s complaints were handled by the University, which include the length of time it took, “lack of oversight of the accused during the period of investigation”, “lack of training that investigators had into issues of sexual misconduct”, and language used during investigations including the use of words like “romantic”‘, among others.
The letter ends with five demands from the five women. These include a public apology from the University; the hiring of “investigators that are specifically trained for handling cases of sexual misconduct”; that the University consider multiple claims made against an individual together rather than as separate cases; the adoption of the “1752 Group Sector Guidance for best practice in addressing staff sexual misconduct in higher education”; and the offer of “independent, external support for staff and students still at the university” who were affected by the behaviour described in the investigation.