By Steven Mair
The student executive at the Strathclyde Students’ Union have released a statement highlighting a “systematic failure” in the university’s handling of the case of former lecturer Kevin O’Gorman.
The statement comes after O’Gorman, 45, was found to have abused numerous students while at working at Strathclyde University between 2006 and 2011.
According to reporting from the Sunday Mail, university chiefs had launched a probe into O’Gorman’s conduct but allowed him to move to Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh during the investigation and even paid him a five-figure bonus upon his departure.
The university have moved to launch a QC-led enquiry into the scandal – but the student exec believe more must be done to product students, including improving the university’s reporting service and the Rape Crisis programme.
The statement read: “In light of the Kevin O’Gorman court case this week, we are shocked and disappointed at Strathclyde’s systematic failure to protect its students from an abusive lecturer. Our thoughts go out to the students who were let down by Strathclyde.
“As students who wish to study on a safe campus, we find ourselves asking questions about the University’s conduct in this case. How was a lecturer allowed to abuse so many students? After the University was made aware of the abuse, why did they not contact the police? How did O’Gorman obtain a move from Strathclyde to Heriot-Watt? Did the University provide O’Gorman with a financial pay-out and employer references, as reported in the press?
“It has also come to light that the University used non-disclosure agreements in this case. We strongly condemn the use of NDAs in cases of sexual abuse, harassment and misconduct and Strathclyde must immediately suspend their use.
“In responding to the case, Strathclyde has appointed a QC to investigate events. We welcome this development and hope the QC has the necessary independence to carry out a thorough review of Strathclyde’s actions so lessons can be learnt.
“As Strathclyde students, we remain disappointed in the University. However, we believe there are practical steps which Strathclyde could take to make the campus safer.
“We call on the University to immediately bolster its Report and Support service, by hiring more trained professionals to assist students who disclose incidents on campus.
“Additionally, Strathclyde should expand its Rape Crisis counselling provision, which has unfortunately proven to be an in-demand service.
“Finally, we ask for the University to re-affirm its commitment to the Equally Safe in Higher Education initiative, by putting more resource behind the project and extending its lifespan. It is only with robust policies, support and reporting tools that the University will be fulfilling its duty of care to protect its student body.”
Any student affected by the themes or content of this article are encouraged to contact Wellbeing Services for support and guidance.
The Report System is available here if you feel unsafe on campus.