Tayside and Central Scotland

Student's 'power and privilege' concern over St Andrews sex assault claims

Ms A
Image caption Ms A set up the St Andrews Survivors account earlier this month

A St Andrews University student who highlighted rape and sexual misconduct claims said the perceived "power and privilege" of alleged perpetrators may be stopping victims reporting abuse.

Dozens of allegations have been posted on an Instagram account called St Andrews Survivors.

The posts, not all of which relate to the university, contain accounts of sexual assault, harassment and rape.

The university said its primary concern was to support survivors.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The university said it would "always act" when incidents were reported

Police Scotland said it had not received any complaints, but was working with the university following the online allegations.

The student who set up the account, named Ms A to protect her identity, said: "It's not lost on the students of St Andrews that the people who attend here largely come from privilege, they come from money, they come from power.

"Knowing the kind of power that person has behind them, it's hard to motivate to accuse that person when you're so acutely aware of the power they hold."

Ms A, who describes herself as a survivor of sexual abuse from before she came to St Andrews, said she was "shocked" at the number of submissions the account had received.

Image caption Student Association president Dan Marshall said it was important that survivors were able to be heard

St Andrews Student Association president Dan Marshall said he was not surprised by the number of claims of rape and sexual misconduct.

He said it was an issue on many university and college campuses around the world.

Mr Marshall said: "I think the police will deal with every incident that is reported to them.

"We'll make sure we deal with every incident that is reported to us.

"Who the accusation is about is absolutely irrelevant.

"What is important is the survivors are able to tell their story and to be heard and make sure they are able to raise those complaints where it's necessary."

Compulsory lessons

St Andrews' vice-principal of education has met the founder of the Instagram account and has urged people affected to report the allegations.

The university said it has appointed a senior member of staff to meet the St Andrews Survival Group and other student leaders.

It is also introducing compulsory lessons for students on sexual consent.

A university spokeswoman said: "Our message remains that the university will always act when incidents are formally reported, and is committed to working collaboratively with students to promote a culture of responsibility and respect, in which everyone can trust in our procedures and that our community is intolerant of all forms of sexual misconduct."