Ex-student sues Cambridge University over harassment complaint

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Dani BradfordImage source, Dani Bradford

A former student says she's suing the University of Cambridge over the way it dealt with her harassment complaint.

Dani Bradford, 21, says she's taken the action because she "wants things to change for other students".

The university upheld a complaint she made about being sent "sexualised" text messages - but Dani isn't happy with the way it handled her case.

Cambridge University says it "takes the personal safety of its students very seriously".

Dani Bradford told Radio 1 Newsbeat she complained to the university when someone in a "supervisory role" sent her text messages that were "sexualised".

At first she wasn't going to report it but when she went back to her studies after a summer break she started having panic attacks.

"When I came back to university to go to my department I couldn't even go on that road.

"I was having panic attacks. I was having night terrors. My mental health was getting really bad."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The University of Cambridge says it's changed the way it deals with harassment and sexual misconduct cases

Dani says she even thought about leaving her course but a friend convinced her to report it to the university.

Her complaint was upheld and Dani says rules were then put in place to ensure there was no contact with the person she'd accused.

But the former student says it made her feel "restricted".

"I wasn't allowed to access certain buildings and wasn't allowed to tell anyone why," she says.

She was also given a letter of apology from the person she accused.

"It didn't include or recognise the word harassment.

"It was along the lines of 'I'm sorry you felt this way from my actions'."

She claims she was also told not to discuss the case with anyone or she could face a charge of harassment herself.

'A fair investigation'

Dani says she didn't feel supported by the university's procedure and has decided to sue in the hope it will "force some real concrete changes".

She added: "I would not be able to say to others the university will protect you if you go through something similar.

"There needs to be a procedure that is created by specialists that have trained and worked with survivors so there is still a fair investigation."

The University of Cambridge says it's changed the way it deals with harassment and sexual misconduct complaints.

In a statement it said: "We accept that in the past the adoption of the criminal standard of proof in our disciplinary process has affected students' confidence in the procedure and was out of line with other universities.

"To help counter this the university put in place additional measures specifically targeting harassment and sexual misconduct and offers specialist support to students who have been subjected to any form of sexual misconduct.

"From 1 October, the disciplinary rules will change so that a finding of breach of our disciplinary code can be made on the 'balance of probabilities' rather than 'beyond reasonable doubt'."

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