This issue’s lead story is worrying for multiple reasons. For a start, that students sought to make a complaint, went to the highest authority they could think of, and still were unable to make their complaint, is an example of the stupidity of the confusion of UCD’s systems at times. That those students were never told or directed to the correct channels for lodging such a complaint as theirs is worse.
We’ve all been young and naïve first years who know nothing of the world, hopefully we grow up to become slightly more knowledgeable and aware of proceedings, but while in university we depend on those in authority to point us in the right direction. Although we are (in most cases) no longer children, in any institution there is an implied duty of care.
The complainants wished to raise the matter of a person whose behaviour they believed inappropriate to society life, and general society. In their initial complaint, they list lewd and suggestive comments, unwanted and non-consensual touching, as well as angry cruel comments when advances were rejected.
The complainants were never able to lodge that complaint, and so the matter could never be investigated. If the alleged harasser was innocent, he was never given the chance to prove so, and so in the meantime rumours may have spread of their guilt. If the alleged harasser was guilty, then possibly more people were put at risk of being harassed, verbally abused, and maybe even worse.
This is the reality of what happens when people aren’t listened to and when people aren’t told where to go with their complaint. In a world as big and labyrinthine as UCD, finding your way to the right lecture theatre can be a confusing minefield. So when people come forward with complaints, one would hope staff in positions of authority have the ability to hold up signposts pointing them in the right direction.
That two people came forward to complain about the behaviour of one particular person, and were never able to lodge a formal complaint completely misses the mark of authority figures having a duty of care. The internal report makes several recommendations to ensure such an occurrence does not happen again. Not all those measures have been followed, or put in place, and here is where once again, certain authorities have failed in their duty of care.