A former Oxford student is launching a legal challenge against the university’s policy on investigating complaints of rape and sexual assault.
Elizabeth Ramey, who has chosen to waive her right to anonymity, reported an alleged assault in 2011. There was a police investigation but no prosecution followed because of evidential problems.
She nonetheless decided to pursue a claim through the university’s complaints procedure but Oxford, it is claimed, failed to investigate the allegation properly or take any action against the alleged perpetrator.
Dissatisfied with Oxford’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 procedure on harassment still allows Oxford to avoid investigating allegations of serious sexual assault.
Her claim, which is supported by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, will be heard by the high court in London on Friday.
Ramey, who was a postgraduate student at Oxford, argues that the university is indirectly discriminating against women by creating a hostile environment and a substantial risk that women’s rights will be violated if such allegations are not investigated.
“The university’s new policy will further discourage women from reporting sexual assaults, knowing that their cases are unlikely to be investigated or lead to disciplinary proceedings,” Ramey states in her legal submission to the court. “Not only does this place an unfair emotional burden on women, it also places them at greater risk.” She points out that research shows that the majority of campus rapes are committed by repeat offenders.
A former Oxford student has failed in her attempt to overturn the university’s policy on investigating complaints of rape and sexual assault.
The high court, in London, refused Elizabeth Ramey permission to bring a judicial review challenge.