CUSU/GU officesLouis Ashworth

Content Note: This article contains detailed discussion of sexual harassment and related legal proceedings. Resources for support and guidance can be found at the bottom of this article.

An emergency motion passed at Monday night’s CUSU Council meeting has condemned the return of a Trinity Hall fellow found to have sexually harassed 10 students and extended support to the students organizing in protest at the decision.

Dr Peter Hutchinson was permanently removed from the college and banned from any contact with student in 2017 as the result of an internal college investigation, launched after nearly a dozen students filed complaints about the MML academic for “inappropriate” incidents in 2014 and 2015.

Trinity Hall have since announced that the decision to remove Hutchinson was “incorrect” and that he automatically became an emeritus fellow upon his resignation in 2015. This status affords him dining rights and the opportunity to attend certain college events.

Trinity Hall have said that he “will not attend events primarily aimed at students or alumni except by agreement with the college”, however it was revealed by the college last week that Hutchinson’s permanent removal came after he was “erroneously” invited to attend a lecture open to undergraduates in 2017.

An open letter condemning the decision to readmit Hutchinson has since garnered almost 1,500 signatures, along with the support of many college JCRs, MCRs and university societies.

However, in the debate at the CUSU council on Monday, Trinity Hall JCR said that, while they condemn the decision, they had little optimism about the likelihood of a reversal by the college.

“It’s a decision we don’t think the college are going to move on,″ said the JCR President.

A spokesperson from the CUSU women’s campaign described the readmittance of Hutchinson as “disgraceful”. The campaign has formulated a list of commitments they want to see from the college, including the prioritisation of student safety, highlighting that “the whole college is a student space”.

An MML student at the meeting voiced the dissapointment of students in their faculty at Trinity Hall’s decision and their continued concern at the 2008 readmittance of lecturer Nick Hammond who was criminally convicted after being found to have more than 1,500 photographs of child pornography on his computer.

“The fact that yet another MML fellow has been welcomed back to the University is unacceptable… the students would like a clear message sent that the University should not be employing teachers who harass students,” they said.

While Hammond continues to teach MML students, the faculty faces legal difficulties in terms of notifying students of his past. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act of 1974 stipulates that, once a conviction is spent, an individual must be treated as though it never happened, meaning that the MML faculty risks being labelled ‘discriminatory’ and potentially facing legal action if it warns students or makes alternative teaching arrangements for those who will come into contact with Hammond.

Part of the student campaign against Trinity Hall’s decision is to bring all Emeritus Fellows onto the new set of Ordinances, so that the situation involving Hutchinson’s readmittance cannot happen again.

Because Hutchinson became a fellow under the 2001 Trinity Hall statutes, which governed the college until 2017, he was automatically given a fellowship from the date he vacated office and is able to legally claim his dining rights.

This has since been updated so that fellowship is only granted where a member of the college has “made an extraordinary contribution to the College, where it is appropriate to retain their involvement in the College”.


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The campaign group supported by CUSU promote the evaluation of all fellows under this updated regulation, so as to avoid similar situations in the future.

Some attendees of the meeting did, however, seem hopeful of a positive outcome. “We should go further than that we disagree with it but think that it’s not going to happen,” said the Proposer of the motion.

“CUSU should stand in solidarity with people who are protesting against atrocious crimes.”

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