Employment news

Durham University accused of “culture of apathy” towards bullying and harassment

Students and staff at the University of Durham have accused management of showing a “culture of apathy” towards bullying and harassment and allowing such “abuses of power” to continue”. They stated that they no longer believe that the University leadership values their safety.

This follows a ‘Guardian’ investigation that revealed a college principal had been able to stay in post despite complaints of intimidating behaviour towards colleagues. Professor Adekunle Adeyeye, the head of Trevelyan College, is alleged to have reduced colleagues to tears and made sexist remarks. Two people had made formal grievances against him in 16 months, and three had left because of concerns about his manner. Although he stepped down from the university’s bullying policy committee last August, he remains in post as college principal.

The letter, signed by 100 staff, alumni and student union leaders representing nearly 8,000 students, said the Adeyeye matter was “just one example of a culture that has been seen time and time again among both staff and students”.

Durham University replied that it does not accept any form of prejudice or discrimination on campus and said it condemned any incidents of bullying, harassment or misogyny “in the strongest possible terms”. It pointed out that it had  recently taken measures to promote openness and transparency on student conduct cases through publicly communicating outcomes, and they were  working with students to “rebuild confidence that that we will listen, investigate promptly and take decisive action.” It added that it is always open to hearing directly from students or staff regarding concerns or suggestions, and would welcome the opportunity to meet the letter’s. signatories “to understand their experiences as well as the evidence”.