Peter Hutchinson has been readmitted to Trinity Hall College at Cambridge University, 2 years after he was withdrawn over sexual harassment allegations.
In 2015, the lecturer was banned from direct contact with students following formal allegations made against him by 10 female students, claiming ‘inappropriate sexual and sexist behaviour’. In 2017, it was found that he had not been following these rules and was withdrawn. Now, the college has decided to readmit him as an emeritus fellow, stating that they were ‘incorrect’ to withdraw him and he has ‘rights and privileges’ to attend college events and dine at the college.
When this was announced, 150 students, staff, and fellows wrote the college a letter calling for his removal. A former student of Hutchinson’s called the readmission ‘a slap in the face’. After Cambridge was exposed for dismissing 2 complaints of assault and rape, this attitude towards Hutchinson is unsurprising, having removed sexual misconduct from their official definition of harassment, a move deemed by legal experts unlawful. It shows a complete and total lack of regard from Cambridge towards all of their female students; that their feeling of safety at university is not as important as this mans right to go to events and dinners.
There should be zero tolerance for those who take advantage of their power
When I think about the 10 girls who came forward with allegations, I worry how many didn’t. How many girls sat silently in their tutorials; uncomfortable, unsafe, feeling pressure from someone they should trust to respond to his sexual and sexist remarks. And no matter who you are, being put in a position like this can and does silence you.
Being made to feel uncomfortable by men who think it’s not serious is all too often a part of the female experience. And this is why there should be zero tolerance for those in positions of power that are using their authority to make their victims complicit, to keep them silent. When people are brave enough to come forward with allegations, especially this many people, punishments should be followed through entirely, not just for 2 years and then reversed, all so he can sit in the same dining hall as students that he made feel unsafe.
Hutchinson should not be readmitted. He should not have ‘rights and privileges’ as a fellow when he behaved in such a disgusting way towards students. He repeatedly abused his power, as so many have, and should not be so easily forgiven by us or the university.
Last modified: 12th November 2019