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Oriel College dismisses contractor over harassment claims

first_imgOriel College has dismissed one of its contractors after students allegedly experienced intimidation and sexual harassment from builders working on a site in their Third Quad.Oriel College’s Domestic Bursar, Kevin Melbourne, told Cherwell, “It was recently brought to the College’s attention that some of our College members had experienced or witnessed inappropriate remarks and behaviour by a contractor working on the Rhodes Building redevelopment.“Oriel does not tolerate inappropriate behaviour of any kind and as soon as this issue was brought to our attention we took immediate action, removing the perpetrator from the premises within the hour. The College made it clear to the main contractor that this behaviour is utterly unacceptable, that it should not recur, and that any future instances would be dealt with very severely.“All further reports have been investigated and to the best of our knowledge were historical instances that took place prior to the contractor being removed.“The College has a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment. We have urged all students to report any instances of unacceptable behaviour immediately to the Junior Deans or a member of the senior management team so that appropriate and speedy action can be taken.”The refurbishment of the Rhodes Building, which currently houses fresher undergraduates, has been an ongoing project since June 2013 and was due to be finished in September 2014. While all the accommodation was finished in time for Michaelmas term, work by external contractors has been ongoing through Michaelmas and Hilary on seminar rooms and a new gym on the ground floor, as well as on landscaping Oriel’s Third Quad.One second year female undergraduate commented to Cherwell, “In Michaelmas term, I experienced a number of incidents of harassment. The strangest was when one of the builders sang a song about my ass as I walked by. On a separate occasion, a group of them discussed my body loudly within earshot. I’ve lost count of the number of times they’ve whistled at me.“As I live opposite the building site, this became a daily occurrence. I think I’ve been conditioned over the years to ignore street harassment but in hindsight I wish I’d reported it earlier. I finally decided to say something when I heard that a large number of girls had been subjected to this disgusting behaviour. The College has dealt with it extremely well.”Another student, who also reported her concerns to College, commented, “Some of the builders working on Oriel’s Third Quad – one in particular – have demonstrated inappropriate behaviour towards myself and other female students whilst working in Third Quad, but mostly while taking breaks on Oriel Street.“It is extremely uncomfortable to walk down there at the moment as they stand by the side and often look you up and down and mutter inappropriate comments. Living in Third Quad makes it pretty hard to avoid (particularly the staring). I have reported this to College and they are taking it very seriously and are trying to do something about it.”The JCR President of Oriel, Kit Owens, commented to Cherwell, “I am very pleased with the quick and decisive response the college made when it became aware of reports of harassment. It sends a clear message that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our community.”last_img read more