One Trinity Hall alumna said: "They're never getting a single penny from me" Andrew Hynes

Content Note: This article contains detailed discussion of sexual harassment.

Since the news broke on Saturday, over 1,200 students, staff and alumni have signed an open letter condemning the highly-publicised ‘readmission’ of Trinity Hall Fellow Dr Peter Hutchinson.

The backlash against Trinity Hall has been widespread. Signatories of the open letter include the majority of Trinity Hall’s JCR and MCR, and every CUSU sabbatical officer. Four former Women’s officers at the college also added their names, alongside multiple former CUSU and GU sabbatical officers, including last year’s CUSU President Evie Aspinall.

Current CUSU President Edward Parker Humphreys called the move “an insult to those students brave enough to speak out and it should be reversed immediately.”

Alongside those of Trinity Hall, multiple colleges’ JCRs and MCRs put their names to the open letter.

CUSU has used its online platforms to encourage students, staff and alumni to sign the letter. In a statement on itsFacebook page, it called the decision “shameful”, saying that it is “insulting to pay lip service to supporting survivors, only to quietly allow perpetrators back into the upper echelons of the institution as soon as they think public memory has moved on.”

“Trinity Hall must prioritise the safety of its students and make clear that it does not tolerate perpetrators of sexual violence by removing Dr Hutchinson as an Emeritus Fellow.”

Online, students – both past and present – have spoken out.

Ellie Pyemont, who says she experienced unwelcome advances from Hutchinson and was part of his trial in 2005, wrote on Twitter: “to those who experienced sexual misconduct whilst @TrinityHallCamb; You have been treated appallingly. I’m sorry that the college ignored red flags & instead appear to have allowed ‘acquittal tea parties’ in their grounds after he was acquitted of sexually assaulting me in 2005.”

In a series of tweets, she detailed her experiences as a witness in the two court cases against Hutchinson. She said that in the first trial, which was ruled a mistrial after a juror allegedly inferred the jury had “made up their mind” and discussed the trial with a family member, “to Peter Hutchinson’s credit, he acted with some dignity”. “His defence strategy was not to call me a liar, a fantasist or a provocateuse”, she said.

In the second trial, however, when Hutchinson was acquitted, the defence strategy supposedly changed. Pyemont wrote on Twitter: “I was excused [sic] of exaggerating, I was accused of having confused other incidences, I was accused of having led him on... for a day and a half of cross examination”.

Criticising the way the College has handled the situation, she continued: “oh my god, the basics, the leadership, the culture, the decision-making, the safeguarding, the integrity, the strategy, so so so much very, very wrong going on @TrinityHallCamb ... no wonder you didn’t want to speak to me @TrinHallMaster”.

Other alumni have also spoken out expressing shock and disappointment in their alma mater, suggesting Trinity Hall’s dealings with Hutchinson could have an impact on donations received by the College from alumni.

“What the college have done brings shame on them and on Cambridge. If l could withdraw the bursary I would as they are unfit custodians of a charity for women,” wrote Pat Chapman-Pincher, who also said her mother’s name is on a Trinity Hall bursary for women.

Expressing a similar sentiment, Trinity Hall alumnus Rhiannon said the college could “strike [her] name off the list of potential alumni donors”.

“They’re never getting a single penny from me”.


Mountain View

Open letter blasts readmittance of Trinity Hall fellow accused of sexual harassment

One postgraduate student, said that the news made her feel “a combination of hopelessness, frustration, and fury”.

Dr Emma Chapman, self-proclaimed “exhausted campaigner on sexual misconduct in HE [Higher Education]” from Imperial College London, also published a letter addressed to Vice-Chancellor Stephen Toope. She wrote, “despite the historical autonomy of the colleges, there must be a point when the University is responsible for stamping out anachronistic and sexist behaviours in order to preserve what is good about a semi-autonomous collegiate system.”

She noted that though automatically given to Hutchinson, the Emeritus status “still retains the perception of an honourable status granted on the basis of an individual’s achievements”.

“The inference that Dr Hutchinson’s actions have been honourable is an astonishing point of view to take.”