Apology for tutor taunted by drunks

March 17, 2000

The University of Lancaster has agreed to make an official apology to a senior tutor who was abused by students in a college bar.

Caroline Giles and five female students working as bar staff were subjected to a torrent of abuse from unruly football players drinking in the college bar at the start of the academic year.

Ms Giles said at the time: "It was the most humiliating thing I have ever experienced. I was trying hard not to cry and I could feel my colleague physically trembling. One [member of staff] was physically sick afterwards. It was a horrendous public humiliation."

The university decided that seven students named by the women should not face a disciplinary committee because there was insufficient evidence that the men involved included the seven named. Ms Giles then instigated formal grievance procedures against the university for failing to protect her from harassment.

Last week, pro vice-chancellor Alan Whitaker told The THES "Cal Giles will be receiving an official apology from the university as her employer. The apology has to be for the behaviour of the students, even though it is not the university's responsibility as it can't guarantee the behaviour of its students. I understand that Cal Giles was also unhappy with the way the inquiry was handled, and any apology will acknowledge that."

He added: "The behaviour Cal Giles experienced, which began as a sing-song and turned into demeaning chanting directed at individuals, is clearly unacceptable."

Ms Giles called for an education campaign on "what is and what is not acceptable behaviour in a multicultural university".

Mr Whitaker said the university had agreed to work with the students' union to develop a code of conduct that would apply particularly in bars.

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