UCD200 allegations “based on hearsay”

An investigation undertaken by UCD into recent allegations of a Facebook group sharing inappropriate images of female students has found “no evidence” as to the group’s existence.A report compiled by Deputy President and Registrar Professor Mark Rogers has detailed the timeline and the results of the investigation into the allegations, which were originally reported by the College Tribune, and have not been upheld by the University.In an email sent to all students on Friday evening, Professor Rogers wrote that “the evidence cited in the article was based on hearsay from anonymous comments on Yik Yak by a quoted source to the College Tribune”. The full report on the investigation, which was undertaken from the 2nd until the 12th of February, is available at www.ucd.ie/registrar/The reporter who wrote the original College Tribune article, Jack Power, appeared on the Marian Finucane show on Saturday morning and claimed that he “absolutely stand[s] over” the original story.Evidence of just one anonymous Yik Yak message potentially relating to the existence of the group was found during the investigation. “I have found evidence of only one anonymous Yik Yak posting around this time which purports to be from an agricultural science student claiming that “I don’t even partake in what’s happening, I personally only have sent 3 photos and a story or 2”. However the anonymity of this social media site does not allow me to ascertain whether this posting is genuine or fraudulent. Similarly, while there are hearsay allegations of others making similar claims, no evidence was presented or found,” writes Professor Rogers in the report.Professor Rogers wrote in his email to students that the investigation “expressed disappointment” that information relating to the potential existence of an “Ag science facebook group” had not been passed to the University when it came to the attention of the College Tribune and the Students’ Union between 28 December 2015 and 5 January 2016 through Twitter and email. Emails seen by The University Observer show that a student contacted the Students’ Union on the 28th of December asking if they could “confirm/deny these allegations”, and advising that “I think it would be beneficial for you guys to state that if the allegations are true you will work with the university and Gardaí to ensure the situation is resolved, particularly considering your #NotAskingForIt campaign”. SU Communications and Research Assistant David Burns responded to the email on the same day, saying that the SU couldn’t confirm or deny the allegations because “we are unaware of which group is in question, of the alleged content and of many other important details.” The email continued with advice to the student to contact the Gardaí if they had seen photos or posts that constituted sexual harassment.In response to Professor Rogers’ criticism, Burns told The University Observer: “They were the only allegations we had received at that time and we didn’t think it was necessary to pass on the information to the University based on allegations from just one tweet.”Burns continued, “We replied to the email that we received advising him to go to the University and the Gardaí with any information he had.” SU President Marcus O’Halloran had not commented on the report at the time of going to print.The College Tribune did not respond to requests from the University Observer as to whether they will be issuing a statement on the matter.Professor Rogers ended his email to students by saying that although the investigation has been concluded, he does not believe that UCD is immune to this type of activity. “If you have been affected by the inappropriate sharing of private information on social media, the student advisors and wider University support services are available to you,” he wrote.