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University of Cambridge admits it has 'significant problem' with sexual misconduct

A total of 173 complaints of sexual misconduct have been received by the university since May last year.

University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
Image: Nick Ansell

THE UNIVERSITY OF Cambridge in the UK has admitted it has a “significant problem” with sexual misconduct after receiving almost 200 complaints over the past few months.

A total of 173 complaints have been received since May last year when the university launched a new anonymous reporting tool.

Cambridge is the first university to reveal a high number of reports through the database, even though several other institutions have since introduced similar systems.

Of the 173 complaints filed, some 119 were made by students alleging sexual misconduct against other students.

Two students issued complaints against members of staff, while seven staff members complained about fellow colleagues.

Writing in a blog on the university’s website, professor of English private law and pro-vice chancellor for education, Graham Virgo, said that the data “supports our belief that we have a significant problem involving sexual misconduct”.

“What we now need to ensure is that those who have been affected receive the support and guidance they need,” Virgo said.

“We expected high numbers, and view it as a metric of success. It appears victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff and to act to it accordingly,” he said.

Source: Cambridge University/YouTube

To accompany the reporting tool, Cambridge launched a Breaking the Silence campaign in October. The university has credited the campaign with prompting the second largest spike in reports in Cambridge’s history.

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“The early signs of the impact of Breaking the Silence are encouraging. Before the campaign, 52% of those reporting recent incidents thought nothing would be done if they made a complaint,” Virgo said.

That figure has dropped to 30% since the launch, he said.

“Clearly, there is work still to do, but that campaign’s message that those who report will be supported and action can be taken is starting to have an impact.”

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