The College has faced backlash after sending an email intended to clarify its disciplinary policy during the pandemicJesusgreen

Tensions have increased between Jesus College and the student body after Jesus’s Senior Tutor Geoff Parks clarified that students will not be subject to disciplinary action for reporting misconduct which took place during a violation of Covid-19 regulations, unless there are “incredibly serious aggravating circumstances”.

The email from Parks to all Jesus students on Monday (30/11) stated that “we believe it is vitally important to avoid discouraging students from bringing forward complaints relating to abuse, harassment or sexual misconduct”, and therefore that “this means that no disciplinary action will be taken against students who report instances of abuse, harassment or sexual misconduct that have occurred during breaches of Covid-related guidelines”.

However, Parks clarified that this would only be the case where there are no “incredibly serious aggravating circumstances”.

In response, an email from Aurelio Petrucci on behalf of “the JCSU (Jesus College Student Union) Committee and students in Jesus and around Cambridge” accused the Master and Senior Tutor of Jesus College of “an unacceptable attitude towards students and a comprehensive lack of accountability from the College leadership”.

The College’s initial statement on reporting procedure and Covid guidelines released last month stated that the College could not “give an absolute undertaking” that students would not be subject to investigation if they reported an incident of misconduct which took place during a violation of college coronavirus guidelines.

Petrucci contended that “the restated policy does not differ in substance from the College’s initial articulation of the policy”, whilst expressing “anger and disappointment” that this decision had been made in light of the “overwhelming and unprecedented outpouring of shock and distress” prompted by the initial policy announcement.

The new JCSU President elect Jacob Powell stated that “it is deeply concerning to see how similar this policy is to the last”, highlighting “the fact [that the] College thought this would satisfy the demands of our community speaks volumes as to how out of touch they are”.

He furthered that “it feels to many in the community that our reputation as a friendly college is now at risk due to an abundance of worrying issues, such as this harassment policy, COVID rules and the Jesus College China Centre”.

Concerns have been raised by many that relations are deteriorating between the College and its students, as Petrucci’s email stated that “the leadership of the College has lost the confidence of the JCSU Committee and the student body”, citing the fact that “open letters on both the harassment policy and the visitor policy have been completely ignored”, that “in College Council, the Master only allowed the issue to be discussed for a few minutes” and that emails between students and the College “have simply been ignored”.

Another anonymous JCSU member repeated these concerns to Varsity, stating that “in my experience working on JCSU, there has been a consistent pattern of College management not responding to our emails and dismissing our concerns in meetings”. They alleged that “College leadership have systematically failed to listen to students on the issues they care about the most, whilst always claiming to be a vibrant, strong community”.

An open letter distributed after the first policy announcement by the College which amassed over 330 signatures also alluded to this, stating that “despite their [JCSU members’] efforts to work with college constructively on making both the policy and its communication clearer and more reassuring to students, their concerns have largely been ignored”.

In a subsequent email to Petrucci which all students were copied into, Parks justified the decision by stating that it was the result of “extensive discussions between Senior Tutors” and “discussions with and feedback from students, Law Fellows and Deans of Discipline”.


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He also pointed out that a similar statement had been sent by another unnamed College, which informed its students that they may face disciplinary action as a result of their reporting misconduct in “very serious aggravating circumstances”.

Another JCSU open letter from last week (25/11) which amassed over 300 signatures labelled Jesus College’s Covid-19 policy “at best ineffective, and at worst counterproductive”, citing strict rules around socialising, the refusal to provide the means for outdoor socialising, and privacy and welfare concerns after “some porters have entered households, and even private students rooms, without wearing masks and with no reason to suspect students are breaking the law”.

Varsity contacted Jesus College for comment.

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