Issues of rape and sexual assault are too frequent on many university campuses and Oxford University has just resisted a legal challenge brought by a former student who sought to challenge the university’s restrictive approach towards inquiries into such matters.
Elizabeth Ramey took a judicial review proceeding to the High Court but the court refused the application. She had alleged an assault in 2011 but no prosecution followed and she pursued a claim through the university’s complaints procedure.
The Guardian reports that Ms Ramey was dissatisfied with the university’s response, Ramey took her complaint to the Office of the Independent Adjudicator of Higher Education. The adjudicator partially upheld her case, recommending that Oxford clarify and amend its policies.
According to Ramey’s lawyers, the new version of the university’s policy and its procedure on harassment still allowed Oxford to avoid investigating most allegations of serious sexual assault.
Her case had been supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the End Violence Against Women Coalition. But the high court on Friday declined to give her permission to bring a full judicial review challenge.
Mr Justice Edis said Ramey, who now lives and works in the US, had never been subject to the new policy and had not been “aggrieved by its application”, ruling that “accordingly she lacks standing to bring this claim”.
He added: “It appears to me that it is inappropriate for the claimant to be granted permission to bring judicial review to question not the terms of the policy itself, but its application in circumstances in which it has never actually been applied.”
Ramey, who was a postgraduate student at Oxford, had argued that the university indirectly discriminates against women by creating a hostile environment and creates a substantial risk that their rights will be violated if such allegations are not investigated. The majority of campus rapes, she said, are committed by repeat offenders.
Her solicitor Louise Whitfield, of the law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn, said afterwards: “Unfortunately the judge dismissed Ms Ramey’s case this morning on the basis that the lawfulness of Oxford’s new policy should be considered in the light of the application of that policy.
“He indicated that such a claim should be brought by an individual who had had their complaint dealt with under the policy since its introduction in December 2014, rather than Ms Ramey’s, whose complaint was made in 2011 under an earlier version of a similar policy.
Source: The Guardian
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