Bullying and Harassment Enabled by Bristol University
Bullying and Harassment Enabled by Bristol University
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Latest: Jan. 13, 2022
Pre-Trial Hearing on January 6th (trial scheduled for February 7th-14th)
Happy New Year.
I can see now why the University of Bristol has been so paranoid about providing disclosure. And in a couple of weeks, you will be able to see it as well. While I f…Read more
Who am I?
My name is Raquel Rosario Sánchez. I have been bullied and harassed by students at the University of Bristol for my feminist principles for over three years. The University has not only failed to protect me by upholding their own policies but instead, has decided to blame and gaslight me while enabling its overwhelmingly white, British and Russell-Group-educated bullies.
My case is about how an elite university treats its students, particularly international students, when nobody is watching. My case seeks to ensure what is happening to me does not happen to other students.
I am a feminist writer, campaigner and researcher from the Dominican Republic. I was accepted on a PhD course at the University of Bristol, starting in January 2018. My academic specialism is in ending violence against girls and women. My PhD work focuses on online communities for men who pay for sex.
By the time I arrived in the UK, in November 2017, I was already a recognised feminist writer who published regularly both in English and in Spanish. It was on that basis that feminist political campaign Woman's Place UK asked me to chair its upcoming meeting in Bristol, scheduled for 8 February 2018. I invite you to please take a look at some of my writing, research and campaigning on women and girls rights.
Woman’s Place UK exists to protect women’s sex-based rights, as they are enshrined in the Equality Act 2010, and is falsely described as an anti-trans organisation. Because I was associated with it, as soon as the event was announced, a number of trans activist students at the University of Bristol started bullying, harassing and targeting me at various events, both inside and outside university campus.
Gender Studies is my academic field but they wanted to make it clear that any critical voices, even those of experts like me, was forbidden and nobody was allowed to speak about it. The first incident took place in January 2018. The last one (so far) in February 2021. I’ve done everything I can to try to get the University of Bristol to stop it – but they’ve refused to take any steps to help me, even failing to properly follow their own procedures.
When I came from the Dominican Republic, on a scholarship, to be at the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, my life felt like a dream come true. Over the next three years, this dream became a nightmare. I have been subject to intense hate, vitriol and bigotry. This took the form of mainly online abuse by a range of people, some of whose names and identities were obscured, others of whom the University was able to identify as being their students.
Among them, people have incited their social media followers to throw eggs and milkshakes at me. I’ve read that I should be punched and turfed out of England. I’ve been called terf, scum, trash, nasty, bigot, heinous and sickening, during periodic campaigns of vilification targeting every feminist event I’ve participated in.
But when I raised this with the University of Bristol, their immediate response was to question me. In hindsight, it is telling that when the bullying against me started, instead of offering support or asking me if I was alright, the first person to contact me from the University was someone from their press office. They were keen on managing the situation for PR purposes, not as a student safety issue.
I read the University’s policies, which clearly stated that what was happening to me was unacceptable, and filed a student complaint against the targeting I was experiencing weeks after starting my programme. In April 2018, the University of Bristol opened disciplinary procedures against one student, who identifies as trans. The charges were (among others) "bullying, harassment and unacceptable behaviour." The student got legal representation, and the process dragged on for about a year and a half. Meanwhile, they escalated their behaviour, mounting even more campaigns targeting me at various feminists events, inside and outside the University of Bristol.
Every university has policies against bullying and harassment, but the University of Bristol demonstrated that as long as these sustained campaigns of vilification are done by trans activist students, they are willing to ditch those policies and ignore the law.
The University started three separate Disciplinary Hearings only to close them immediately. They argued there were security concerns posed by the threat of their own balaclava-clad students who would protest each hearing.
The University of Bristol required assistance both from campus security and also from the local police who attended these hearings to protect the staff members tasked with investigating the student bullies.
When I was due to give evidence on 15 June 2018, trans activists students distributed a pamphlet titled 'Why We Fight The TERF War' in which students were encouraged to yell 'SCUM SCUM SCUM' and 'You’re shit and you know you are'. The University never managed to question the trans student they were allegedly investigating.
They did allow the trans student’s barrister to cross-examine me in front of my bully. The University lawyer and the Disciplinary Committee also questioned me. I was asked about my feminist ideas and made to ‘explain myself’ for having the temerity to chair a meeting on women's rights. To this day, I am the only student who has had to answer any questions.
I filed my student complaint on 1 February 2018.
The University of Bristol closed down the disciplinary procedures on 27 June 2019 “for reasons unrelated to the merits of the case”, providing no further explanation.
The University dismissed my student complaint on 19 December 2019.
Throughout, the University insisted that it was paramount that I, along with my supervisors at the Centre for Gender and Violence Research, maintained confidentiality when faced with relentless bullying. Almost two years later, they turned around and denied that any bullying took place.
When they dismissed my student complaint in December 2019, the University argued that the purpose of confidentiality was to protect the bully. That meant that all along, I had to watch myself be publicly bullied and harassed by throngs of privileged, British students who were making a sport out of bullying an immigrant who had just arrived in the UK.
It was the University of Bristol, an academic institution that has a duty of care to me, that coerced me against standing up for myself and prevented me from fighting back. In effect, trans activist students bullied and harassed me but it was the university's internal procedures that stifled my free speech. The impact of this both on my health and my academic performance was severe.
In the Autumn of 2019, I spoke about what had been happening to me for the first time and my story was featured both in The Sunday Times and the BBC’s Radio 4 Today Programme. At that point, the University of Bristol pressured me to suspend my studies on the basis that I was not making sufficient academic progress.
This is a picture shared on the University of Bristol's social media platforms of the then Pro Vice Chancellor for International Students and the Pro Vice Chancellor for Student Experience two weeks after the University decided to terminate disciplinary procedures for "bullying, harassment and unnaceptable behaviour" by their white, British and Russell-Group educated trans activists student bullies against me, citing "reasons unrelated to the merits of the case."
You can watch the behaviour of the trans activist students who have bullied and harassed me at the University of Bristol, and that I reported throughout, in this BBC documentary and on this Mumsnet thread.
You can find an updated list of the coverage my legal case has received, in the media, websites and in online forums here.
I am deeply grateful to the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the University of Bristol which has shown me nothing but kindness, support and solidarity throughout this ordeal. The Head of the Centre for Gender and Violence Research at the time this was taking place issued a public statement detailing the facts of this internal matter and condemning the University of Bristol’s handling of the process. You can read the public statement here.
I believe that everyone should be treated with respect and dignity when advocating for their political beliefs, regardless of disagreements. This democratic generosity was not extended to me, neither by the multiple students who have bullied, harassed and targeted me over the past two years, nor by the University of Bristol.
Unsurprisingly, trans activist students continue to target me, attempting to cancel feminist meetings I organise inside the University of Bristol and seeking to sanction me for standing for women's existing legal rights, as recently as February 2021. This is not a healthy or humane learning environment for any student. The University’s actions are not only in contravention of their own institutional policies, but are also unlawful.
No student ever dreams of suing their university. Taking legal action against your academic institution is a nightmare scenario, both time consuming and psychologically draining. Realising I would have to sue the University of Bristol was deeply painful for me. I went there filled with hope and excitement.
When you are being targeted by a mob of angry students who refuse to respect other students right's to free speech and freedom of assembly, you desperately want your institution to help you and their policies to protect you. But sadly, too many universities prefer to turn a blind eye to attacks on students.
Nobody should ever be forced to live under threats of violence, like I was at the University of Bristol. But the fact that this climate of abuse and intolerance is taking place within academic institutions, where thoughtful critique and persuasion should be the order of the day, must ring alarm bells for everyone concerned about democracy and academic freedom.
I believe that the University’s failure to protect me is because they have a policy of not properly applying its disciplinary procedures against students who identify as trans rights activists. I am currently preparing litigation against the University of Bristol for its failure to protect me from the bullying and harassment I have suffered.
The legal breaches I am alleging are negligence, indirect sex discrimination (because most people who suffer this intimidation from trans activists are women, and therefore it is women who primarily suffer because of the University’s policy), and unlawful victimisation under the Equality Act 2010, among others.
Bullying and harassment, particularly over such a sustained period of time, are dreadful experiences to go through and are highly detrimental to any academic environment where learning should thrive.
I feel aghast by the eventuality that the University of Bristol will allow my experience to repeat itself, given that they do not perceive any wrongdoing on their part. Prospective female students, as well as international students, have the right to be aware of the two-tier system which operates within the University of Bristol. What is happening to me should not happen to any other student again.
My case argues that the University of Bristol institutional process had the purpose or effect of violating my dignity, and created an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating and offensive environment for me.
With this aim, I have instructed a team of lawyers to represent me, including Alice de Coverley from 3 Paper Buildings as my barrister, and Peter Daly and Amara Ahmad from Doyle Clayton as my solicitors. We have prepared and presented a detailed Letter Before Claim and now, after receiving the University’s response to that letter, we are drafting the claim itself and preparing for litigation.
I was told beforehand that cases such as this can cost in excess of £50,000. Indeed, after engaging with the University on this matter, my lawyers have informed me that this legal challenge will cost £100,000, covering the 5 to 7 days of litigation in court.
In order to get the case off the ground, my previous Crowdjustice page (I had to create a new one because my solicitor changed law firms) sought to raise £10,000, to cover the initial costs I had incurred at that point, the Letter Before Claim, the lodging of the claim itself and the initial stages of the litigation. We reached that initial target within 10 hours.
Following our Case Management Conference, I must raise enough money to pay for the case itself, and to ensure that I can pay the University’s costs in case I am not successful. There is no such thing as a guaranteed success in litigation, and although I have been told that my case against the University of Bristol is strong, there is a possibility that I might lose. I am litigating against a massive organisation with near enough limitless resources.
Your support is vital!
We were ready to launch this case just before the COVID-19 health crisis hit. I understand that these are challenging circumstances for all of us. Please feel free to donate to efforts to alleviate the effects of the crisis, which are undoubtedly more urgent. That being said, if you can contribute, I’d appreciate whatever you can donate to help fund my case. If you can't donate, I would ask you to please share this page among your network of colleagues, friends and family.
My case is about how an elite university treats its students when nobody is watching. It is also about how academic institutions behave when they believe themselves to be above the law. Therefore, this an issue of academic freedom. I would appreciate the support of everyone concerned about the intimidatory climate fomented by aggressive student activists, and the academic institutions which enable them.
As I mentioned in my first update, this page is a continuation of my crowdfunding effort in my legal action against the University of Bristol. My solicitor changed law firms and Crowdjustice rules require that I create a separate page to direct the funds from donors to the new law firm. You can still view my previous page (now closed) here.
This graphic is courtesy of British conceptual artist Rachel Ara, who herself has experienced intolerance and no-platforming by an academic institution in the UK. Please read more about her work here.
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Raquel Rosario Sánchez
Jan. 13, 2022
Pre-Trial Hearing on January 6th (trial scheduled for February 7th-14th)
Happy New Year.
I can see now why the University of Bristol has been so paranoid about providing disclosure. And in a couple of weeks, you will be able to see it as well. While I feel hurt and disappointed, I feel adamant that the public must be made aware that this is how academic institutions are treating feminist students when nobody is watching. I want to let you know that, last Thursday, we held a positive and useful Pre-Trial Hearing in which we were able to secure our in person trial for this matter from 7th-14th February, 2022 at the Bristol County Court.
The University has behaved appallingly all the way through. For example, during our last hearing on November 17th, the judge ordered the University to provide disclosure by December 8th. Towards the end of December, they were still making excuses to avoid doing this (the third court order they were ignoring). They finally provided disclosure on December 23rd, during a period of time when we had previously informed them that all my lawyers would be unavailable. The University dumped over 10,000 pages of disclosure on me at a time when one of my lawyers was on maternity leave, another had COVID and the third one was out of the country on holiday. They choose that date knowing I had to exchange my Witness Statement merely days later. This is the kind of unhelpful behaviour that they have displayed since we launched this case on June 2020. On November 17th, the judge told the Defendant's barrister that "the University has not covered themselves in glory" and then she repeated that statement again, for emphasis. Rather than becoming more sensible, they decided to become increasingly cantankerous.
The one thing the University of Bristol has succeeded so far is in blowing up our budget. They mostly refuse to cooperate with us and oftentimes don't even respond to our emails. Unfortunately, my lawyers have had to go above and beyond to get around the University's intransigence and that has means a lot of increased costs. This past month and a half has been unnecessarily horrible for me, with extreme stress and countless sleepless nights. So you can't imagine how pleased I felt last week when I heard the judge confirm that our trial will take place next month. But right now, I am worried that by blowing up our budget, the University may succeed in denying my access to justice. If all of you donated £5 to £10 pounds (or however much you feel comfortable donating), this concern could be resolved quickly. Please consider pledging once again. I am determined that all of us get a court judgment on this matter and most importantly, that what has happened to me does not happen again to other women in academia.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez
Nov. 20, 2021
Trial Dates: 7th February-14th February 2022
Hope you are well.
We had a very successful hearing on November 17th. It went on for longer than expected (we ended being with the judge for nearly 3 hours) which felt draining and nerve-wrecking for me but it all generated a positive outcome for us.
Our trial will take place from February 7th to February 14th, 2022. My lawyers reached out to the University countless times so we could collaborate and find dates suitable for all the witnesses, lawyers and parties but they refused to even acknowledge our emails. Having to constantly chase them represented an unnecessary expense for us and, I believe one of the purposes was that, without their dates, my case would be thrown way into the future (the other purpose would be to increase our costs). For example, into September or November 2022. I had truly resigned myself to this eventuality so I was surprised that last week the Court decided the dates for us and a lot sooner than I anticipated.
Most of the University's submission on November 17th related to anonymity and secrecy. They sought orders from the Court to further anonymise their disclosure (which the still haven't provided) and they wanted the judge to order that nobody can access legal documents without making an application to the Court. The judge refused both requests citing the principle of open justice, and reminded the University that the Supreme Court ruled that the public has a right to see justice so no requirement to seal the documents would be made for my case.
You have to wonder why is the University so absolutely paranoid about disclosure and why they are so anxious about the eventuality that the public will get to read Court documents about my case (ie. about the University of Bristol's treatment of me). What is it that they are hiding?
Having caused endless obstructions and delays by not releasing their disclosure, the University told the judge that it would take them too long to do it so they wanted the trial dates (established right at the beginning of the hearing) moved. The judge said, and this was beautiful: "I am not moving the trial dates. There have been enormous delays. Those instructing you must get their act together and get ready for the trial." And then she dropped the mic and left. Just kidding, but you can imagine how happy I felt to finally hear that!
We had to make three separate applications to the Court relating to disclosure problems that we have encountered with the University, and they had one application over something that was resolved prior to Nov 17th. While the Court did not grant us the Unless Order we were seeking, the judge did make a comprehensive order that included our concerns. I am particularly happy that the judge considered that all our applications have been reasonable and were due to the drawn out disclosure issues. Therefore, we were awarded cost for all three of our applications. Meanwhile, the Court did not awarded the the Defendant cost for theirs and told the University to go pay for their own application.
I feel very happy that during our November 17th hearing we finally managed to get the dates for our trial, which has been worrying me for such a long time, and I am also happy that the judge said this case was "an extremely important case."
That being said, February 7th, 2022 is almost here. Less than two months and a half away. That means there is a lot of work to be done (as in, A LOT) in a very short amount of time. The University has been increasing our cost unnecessarily and, while we may recover that after the trial, at the moment we really need to raise enough funds to see this case through. Please, if you can share with your friends, families and colleagues, and spread the word on social media, I would really appreciate it.
As always, I am so grateful to my lawyers for their hard work. Particularly to my barrister, Alice de Coverley, who was on fire on Nov 17th. It has been a challenging couple of months with no end in sight but now everything feels clearer and near. Having a trial so soon feels daunting but I am ready.
Thank you all for your kindness and support throughout.
Ps. I was featured on Woman's Hour on my birthday, where I discussed our case. You can listen to the BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour interview with journalist Emma Barnett (35-06 to 51-41) on the BBC website. An acquaintance volunteered a full transcript of the segment so you can also read the interview on this PDF.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez
Oct. 18, 2021
Two Hour Hearing on November 17th (Plus 2nd Unless Order)
Hope you are well.
We have two hour court hearing on November 17th. Here is a broad update in the meantime.
- Previous Unless Order and Disclosure Issues
The judge will go over a number of applications made by both sides, including a second Unless Order that our lawyers have had to file against the University of Bristol. Most of the applications have to do with disclosure problems we have encountered and how the University's failures on this litigation affect (I believe intentionally and deliberately) our timetable.
The Defendant used some shenanigans to preempt our first Unless Order from being granted but it appears this time, instead of pretending to collaborate, the University will straight-up tell the judge that they don't feel like complying with the Directions Order that was already granted by another judge way back in April 2021. Our case launched in June 2020, we are in October 2021 and the University is still putting an active fight to prevent information regarding their treatment of me from being disclosed in court (and eventually in the public domain). What is it that they are hiding? Why are they so frightened of all this coming out?
Obviously, our side is an open book. My lawyers are brilliant. I am very happy with all three of them and I am confident in their expertise and efforts. They always comply with anything that the court asks of us and we are transparent about everything we are doing. At this point, there is absolutely nothing (not a single document or piece of evidence) that the University of Bristol has requested from me that I have refused to provide. So on November 17th, all of us (their lawyers, my lawyers, the judge and I) will sit there for two full hours focusing on the failures of the University to provide their disclosure.
- "Gender Wars" in Academia Debate
Aside from that, as you may be aware, there is finally an ongoing national conversation about the bullying, harassment and intimidation that feminists are being subjected to in academia. During this weekend's FiLiA 2021 Conference, I chaired a panel with students Diana Barrera Moreno (Women Talk Back), Nicole Jones (XX Feminist Netword) and professors Jo Phoenix (Open University) and Selina Todd (Oxford University) about the "gender wars" in academia. The panel focused on the grassroots resistance from students and professors pushing back against gender orthodoxy in UK Universities.
While she wasn't present, at the end of our panel, our hundreds of attendees gave a standing ovation to Professor Kathleen Stock. At the University of Sussex, Prof Stock has been on the receiving end of a campaign of intimidation from students, staff and her own union who object to her feminist work based in material reality. (We also had a blast dancing to Madonna's 'Material Girls' in her honour an the FiLiA female-only dance party!) You can listen to the FiLiA podcast I did with her about her work and the targeting she has received here.
Like Selina Todd, Kathleen Stock has been urged by the Police to get bodyguards to accompany her when she gives lectures on campus because their institution has allowed this toxic climate to reach a boiling point in which students feel entitled to attack them for her entirely lawful (and common sense) views. That is unacceptable and it is the direct result of the culture of indifference and/or complicity taken by university managements that have enabled their wannabe despots to abuse feminists on campus.
- The Sunday Times feature
Yesterday, The Sunday Times published an article titled "200 academics tell of death threats and abuse as battle rages for free speech" featuring the voices of feminists researchers who have been on the receiving end of intimidation. I am grateful that they reached out and included my voice on it because sometimes people forget that students are oftentimes the first to be targeted by their peers, are therefore more susceptible to peer-pressure and, as early career researchers, oftentimes feel more compelled to conform so we can have an opportunity at having a career.
Regarding the campaign of intimidation and abuse, including the years-long targeting by balaclava-wearing students at Bristol University, I said to The Sunday Times: “Most people who are subject to abuse by trans activists stay silent, because if you file a complaint you undergo the campaign of threats I have experienced. I want a legal judgment from a court that could serve as a deterrent to all universities that the hounding of feminists in academia is unacceptable and unlawful.”
Nobody should go through bullying, harassment and intimidation so my heart goes out to Kathleen. These past few weeks have been challenging because it has been surreal to witness this national reckoning over something that I myself endured (on a smaller scale) starting almost four years ago. Much of that time, the University lawyers coerced me to maintain confidentiality so I couldn't speak about what was happening. I felt immensely alone. It is dehumanising that I was made to go through that a few weeks after I started my PhD programme and as a newly-arrived immigrant in a country where I had no family and I didn't know a single person other than my supervisor. I hope Kathleen feels less alone but all this has to stop.
All those women in our academic panel and Prof Stock need better support and to have their already established rights upheld. Yet university after university after university and even unions, have folded under the pressure of trans activists bullies. In our case, Bristol University is happy to waste over a year of the court's time including the two hours on the November 17th hearing resorting to obfuscation and cowardly shenanigans to justify the toxic climate they have already created.
If you have time, please watch the first speech Kathleen Stock gave about this matter for the feminist campaigning organisation Woman's Place UK, titled 'A Woman's Place is Turning the Tide' in Brighton on July 28th, 2018. Like all the women in our FiLiA academics panel, you will see a thoughtful, sensitive and powerful feminist researcher who has endured too much, for too long, unnecessarily:
I will provide more information after the November 17th court hearing.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez
Aug. 5, 2021
Costs and Case Management Conference on 5 August 2021
Hope you are well.
We had a CCMC on 5 August. It was mostly focused on budgeting issues and other matters. The short summary is that our legal case is going well and I am very happy with how my lawyers and I are approaching everything. Since you are a donor with an interest in the case, I'll use bullet points to expand on some important issues you may want to know:
- CCMC on 5 August 2021
The hearing was 40 minutes long. I was represented by my superb barrister and one of my brilliant solicitors was also present. Both women have done remarkable work and I am so grateful to have them on board. The University was represented by their barrister, an adult man who has decided to highlight the following paragraph as a professional achievement: "Paul deals with civil litigation against local authorities in relation to all sorts of powers. His main body of work in this area currently relates to claims brought by victims of childhood abuse and neglect who allege that social services authorities should have removed them from the source of harm earlier."
Our cost budget for the claim was a set sum of £107,434, allowing for the pre-action costs, disclosure, expert reports and other matters that have already been incurred and everything we are estimated to incur. The trial itself will be the biggest sum of money at about £18,000.
Remember that we only have 2 witnesses (including me), while the University has previously said they would have up to 9 people testifying against me. I invite them to bring 100: these sort of scare tactics make me feel increasingly confident in our evidence.
- Disclosure and Unless Order
As I have mentioned before, the University has throughout refused to provide disclosure. We did ours ages ago, but our lawyers had to spend both June and July incurring unnecessary costs asking the Defendant to provide theirs. At the last CMC we made a specific application and on 16 April 2021, were granted a Directions Order so the University should have complied. Instead, they ignored the court order, withheld disclosure, failed to serve a signed disclosure statement and made our lawyers spend two months requesting something that any Defendant who was confident in their case would volunteer willingly.
Because of the paragraph above, we were left with no other choice than to apply for an Unless Order to force their hand. It stated that unless they serve comprehensive disclosure by a set date, the Defendant’s defence would be struck out, judgment would be entered in our favour, and the Defendant would be permitted to take no further part in the proceedings. Eventually, the University complied with a section of this but we still have to make more applications for specific disclosure because there are still massive gaps. Everything relating to this matter could have been avoided but the University's approach is to make everything as difficult as possible. I can't think of any reason why.
- Nondisclosure Agreements (NDAs) discussion
Recently, the feminist organisation FiLiA published a podcast I recorded with Dr Julie Macfarlane focusing on her groundbreaking work as an advocate for survivors of sexual violence and institutional abuse. Her campaigning resulted in a paradigm shift for Canadian courts. She has been selected as one of Canada’s 25 Most Influential Lawyers and in 2019, she received the Order of Canada. Professor Macfarlane recently published Going Public: A Survivors Journey from Grief to Action.
This September, Dr Macfarlane, along with Zelda Perkins (a campaigner and the first woman to break her NDA with convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein), will launch a global campaign to ban NDAs. In our podcast, we discussed how an NDA represents a signed piece of paper used to gag victims and whistleblowers, but that a lot of silencing takes place through coercion. For example, around the same time I went public about this matter, in an exclusive for The Sunday Times, I had an email at the top of my inbox from the University's Director of Legal Services with the subject line "CONFIDENTIAL" (her caps).
The university gagged me for almost two years. Particularly, during the time that was most difficult for me: when I was being bullied, harassed and institutionally gaslighted as a newly arrived immigrant student in the UK. An array of the University's in-house lawyers insisted that I couldn't speak about what was happening, coercing both me and my supervisors to maintain confidentiality or else their "investigation" would be ruined. I am stating this because discussions around the corrosive nature of NDAs should remember that point and because a dear friend of mine recently commented that "it's great that the University has never gagged you" and I want to publicly disavow them of this delusion in case this myth was commonplace. I spoke out because I decided enough is enough. If it was up to the University of Bristol, I would still be silently traumatised or better yet, back in Santo Domingo.
- Dr Anthony Maden
As you know, I am suing the University of Bristol for negligence, sex discrimination, unlawful victimisation, among other claims. In order to assess the negligence claim, both parties are required to submit expert reports. In Spring 2021, the University told the Court that their expert would be Dr Anthony Maden. We replied giving them an opportunity to reconsider this based on some elements of our case. According to some figures, there are at least 12,000 psychiatric experts currently active. Nevertheless, soon after, the University unceremoniously dismissed all our formal concerns by informing us that the one and only psychiatric expert in the whole United Kingdom who they though could help them win their case against me was Dr Maden.
Coincidentally, this matter came up in the FiLiA Podcast with Dr Julie Macfarlane above. More information about this issue can be found here.
- The University's Sanctions Against Me
Last month, the University made a unilateral decision to instigate a punitive process against me over what they consider to be an unsatisfactory lack of academic progress. I had zero input on this decision-making process and I am disappointed they unilaterally reached this outcome. As the University is well aware, there are tangible reasons outside of the scope of this legal case that explain why any student would struggle, and most importantly, there are issues directly relating to this litigation that legally compel them to make reasonable adjustment to help me so that I can successfully move forward, yet it has become evident that concern about the well being of students stops with me. At the same time that they were spending two months trying to bamboozle my lawyers and an actual Court by playing stupid games with an unsigned disclosure paper, they were refusing me any help or support. Apart from being potentially illegal and discriminatory, constituting further evidence for my case, I found this point to be aggravating.
As I mentioned in this Spanish interview from 7 June 2020, from the moment I filed my complaint, the University of Bristol has used our institutional relationship as weapon against me. I told journalist Ana de Blas, that at different points they have used a combination of threats, emotional blackmail and retaliation to punish me for bringing this case forward. I am not afraid of these people and I'm impervious to intimidation (hence why we're here). However, it is disheartening to see firsthand how the University of Bristol treats students who have the temerity to follow their own policies and reporting wrongdoing.
- Is my legal case against the University of Bristol important?
During the CCMC on 5 August, the University's barrister went on a stream of consciousness about how unimportant my case was because, he said, it didn't have a high monetary value. You will have noticed that the word "damages" does not appear anywhere on this CrowdJustice text, interview or any message I have ever written. That's on purpose. I didn't start litigation with an eye on money and I would find any insinuation of the sort to be immoral, unethical and deeply offensive. In my view and even though I obviously don't want to lose, a negative judgement is preferable to no judgement at all because this case helps clarify the position I, and every other student experiencing what I have experienced, are in.
Nevertheless, the University's barrister tried to convince the judge of the lack of importance of our case based on how little, according to him, I could claim back in damages and costs if I were to win. I expected nothing less from him so I was not surprised by his monologue. However, I have been taken aback recently by a number of conversations I've had with people "on our side" who tried to convince me of the exact same point that Mr Stagg was arguing to the judge. I won't expand on this but I've found that lack of confidence and support from people I used to trust to be unexpected and hurtful.
So I went into that CCMC not feeling particularly great and somewhat deflated. However, in the mother of all plot twists, after my barrister challenged every argument the University's lawyer made, the judge said that my case was important not because of the quantum I could recover but because of the nature of the case and its wide-reaching ramifications. Before August 5th, if I had to make a list of who I would expect to make that point, a judge would not even be on the list so that was a very pleasant surprise. As a donor, I hope you find that as reassuring as I have.
As always, thank you to my three lawyers for their impressive legal expertise, thorough support and for always advising me based on what they consider to be my best interests. I'd like to thank my family and loved ones for their unwavering encouragement. Even through we are 6,846 kilometres apart, I would not be able to take this on if I didn't have the emotional stability they provide.
Thank you to all of you who have sent encouragement and donated to the case. Despite the fact that this update is very long and kind of grim, I feel very happy with where we are right now and I think we should all feel positive moving forward.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez
June 10, 2021
"Gender Critical Beliefs" are protected under the Equality Act 2010
Hope you are well.
I have now received a document from the University of Bristol. I call it "a document" because it was supposed to be disclosure but what they sent is decidedly not. They were due to provide me a list of documents they hold which I don't have but are relevant to my case. This means email correspondence, letters and internal documents between people within the University who were involved in my case, including everything related to the Student Complaint and Disciplinary Process. After saying they would rely on some articles of the EHRC to prevent me from accessing this information, my legal team specifically applied (and were granted) a court order mandating them to fully disclose their documents to me.
I produced a detailed Electronic Questionnaire listing all the people who might hold relevant information and the key search terms. I have already provided them with all the relevant information they need from me, both in my Letter Before Claim and prior to our deadline, because I am keen to move forward in a manner that is as transparent and thorough as possible.
Yesterday, they decided to send me, as "disclosure", a long list mostly consisting of... my own emails that I wrote with my own hands to various people about this matter. And emails that were sent to me (which I already hold because they were sent to me) or emails in which I was cc'd (which I also obviously hold because I was cc'd on them). These emails have been a part of our evidence from the very beginning and, obviously, the point of this bit in the litigation is to submit documents that I don't have and would need, not documents that I myself wrote therefore I've obviously always had.
Words escape me.
In the interest of fairness, I have to clarify that the University would argue that, technically, they did not breach the court order by being late in submitting this long list of my own emails. They would say they submitted it to the Court quite literally at the exact deadline and that it was my lawyers who took a bit to forward their long list of my own emails to me. So I want to thank them for submitting in time mostly my own emails, which I already have because I myself wrote them with my own hands, and calling it "their disclosure".
I didn't understand how it was possible for a party to behave this way in litigation, but one of my lawyers helpfully explained to me this morning that these dynamics are not unusual with certain types of defendants. There are some steps I can take in the meantime to avoid having to waste time and funding (which is obviously what the University wants for our side), but the bottom line is that if they continue to withhold important information that they have been ordered to hand to my team, I will ultimately have to make an application for Contempt of Court for the way they are behaving.
Learning this gave me the peace of mind and the reassurance I need at this moment.
I used to think it was bewildering to see Russell-Group-educated trans activists students behave this way and this way and this way and get away with it, but now I realise that this sort of contempt for decency, and potentially the law, is enabled by the very top because they too behave this way. The purpose of my case is to ensure that justice prevails and they don't get away with it.
That being said, on some positive news fresh from this morning, sustainable development researcher Maya Forstater has won her appeal against the Employment Tribunal decision that upheld her dismissal from the Center for Global Development. She was dismissed for her belief that biological sex is real, immutable and that it has material ramifications for everyone. Maya went on to be a co-founder of the feminist organisation Sex Matters. This is a landmark judgement that has established that "gender critical beliefs" (believing that sex is real and that gender is the social construction of sexist stereotypes) are protected under the Equality Act 2010. You can read the full judgement here. And watch Maya's statement below:
Well done, Maya for her immense courage and fortitude throughout this process. Her victory today will have a profound effect on the direction of travel of discussions regarding sex-based rights and "gender identity" theories worldwide. Congratulations also to all her lawyers, including some who are also my lawyers, for their expertise and focus on this matter. I will keep you updated as matters progress regarding my case against the University of Bristol.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez
June 9, 2021
General Updates and Case Developments
Hope you are well.
I am writing to let you know some general developments when it comes to how women who defend our legal sex-based rights are treated in UK universities. I also wanted to inform you of some developments regarding my case.
As some of you might have notice, it appears like there has been a noticeable shift in the public consciousness regarding how much power and influence lobby groups (such as Stonewall) that advocate for "gender identity" policies as if it were the law should hold in society, including within academic settings. This week, Dr Michael Biggs, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Oxford published a detailed analysis of the potentially unlawful challenges that lie when academic institutions outsource their critical thinking skills to lobby groups with a vested interest in undermining sex-based rights, which mainly harms female students and staff members within universities. Professor Biggs also wrote a formal letter to the Oxford University Vice Chancellor about this matter, stating:
"I call on the University to withdraw from Stonewall’s Diversity Champions scheme and Workplace Equality Index. The University should not submit to an unelected organization which campaigns for a particular political agenda, which provides misleading information of the law, and which has a disturbing history of bullying individual women."
Unsurprisingly, the University of Bristol are a fee-paying member of Stonewall's Champions scheme. While I have not called on them to withdraw from Stonewall's schemes, I have pleaded with them to offer the public full transparency regarding their association with such a disreputable organisation. Here is the link to my Freedom of Information request to the University of Bristol. Please follow up their updates so we may all get the clarity needed at this moment in time.
Today, The Times Scotland features a story about the former Rector at the University of Edinburgh (another Stonewall champion), Ann Henderson, regarding the climate of fear and intimidation she sustained within her academic institution, by trans activist students, merely for supporting democratic debate about established law. She received little support from her senior colleagues. You can read her personal account of everything that transpired on the Woman's Place UK website.
Ann's ordeal began in October 2018 (mine in January 2018), and it is still truly shocking and heartbreaking to see the abuse women have been forced to endure within academic institutions complacent with bullying and harassment perpetrated by trans activists students. Last week, journalist Julie Bindel recalled the unacceptable intimidation she faced from student trans activists, while trying to do her job and cover a feminist event in Bristol. Many of the people in that footage are students at the University of Bristol.
As a matter of fact, the two individuals in the middle of the stairs in this footage (who later on had to be forcibly removed by the Police) were involved in the targeting against me. This individual in particular is the Cambridge and London School of Economics educated bully who got a pat in the back by the University of Bristol for this person's targeting against me. You can witness this individual's behaviour in full on this BBC documentary (33:40) and the broader climate in which trans activists students operate within the University of Bristol on this Mumsnet thread.
Although there remains much to be done when it comes to upholding women's rights to free speech and academic freedom within UK Universities, there are some tentative signs that things are changing. Last week, a PhD candidate at Brunel University London felt compelled to publicly brag about wanting to mass murder women who dare to defend their sex-based rights as they are already enshrined in UK law. This disturbing intent echoes the Montreal Massacre of December 6th, 1989 (about 30 years ago) and as such, merits a strong response from University authorities. Thankfully, after a highly inappropriate initial response, Brunel University issued a statement condemning the abuse and threats leveled against women by their trans activists students, and announcing actions regarding the matter.
While these developments are significant, things don't appear particularly hopeful in my case because, true to form, the University of Bristol is cantankerously refusing to accept that they are in live litigation and that the rule of law does indeed apply to them as well. At the moment, they are in breach of a court order that required them to submit important information to my legal team by 4pm today. I have submitted the relevant information they need from me, both at the beginning of these proceedings and before the deadline of our court order (yesterday), in part because I wanted to encourage them to stop being difficult and get on with it.
I am unhappy that, to this day, far from being sensible, the University of Bristol continues to play games by delaying the process as much as possible, with the full knowledge that I am an international student and the only weapon they can use against me is delaying tactics and playing with time. I refuse to publicly dwell on the impact that an abusive institution has had on me as an human being or as a student, but I would just like to say that I find this matter taxing and difficult.
I forgot to mention this in my last update, but I am deeply grateful to my legal team (now made up of three brilliant lawyers) for their expertise, dedication and kindness on a matter that I find so challenging. As always, I would like to say thank you to all of you for your support and solidarity. Please share this crowdfunding effort far and wide, but even if you can't donate, all the thoughtful messages you send mean so much to me and I am filled with gratitude to know that I am not alone.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez
April 22, 2021
Trial window from 31 January to 15 April 2022
Hope you are well.
The trial window for my legal case against the University of Bristol will begin on 31 January 2022 and end on 15 April 2022. Here is an update on what transpired over our Case Management Conference last Thursday 15th. Coordinating details of the timetable took significant time so there will be a separate costs management hearing soon.
As I wrote previously, a judge had stated they wanted my case to be heard in 2021. However, a different judge assigned to our CMC last Thursday decided that given the uncertainly of our current times, the sensible way forward is to schedule the trial for my case early next year, as opposed to insisting on having it in 2021 and risk any unexpected delays or events, which would force my case to be put at the bottom of the pile of pending legal cases a further 6 or 9 months after our originally agreed dates. Although I was initially disappointed, after some thought, I am grateful to the judge for having the foresight to be cautious on this point.
In the spirit of transparency and since this case is being funded by the public, I want you all to be informed of the developments of last week. Here are the main points decided on the Case Management Conference:
- There will be a separate costs management hearing, listed by the court, on the first date available, 21 days after 15 April 2021.
- Having previously suggested they might need to have 5 witnesses, the University now says they will have 9 witnesses testifying against me, although they claim they don't know yet how substantial any of them would be. In contrast, I will only be relying on another person so our side has 2 witnesses. I'd like to point out that the more people they suggests as witnesses, the longer the trial itself would take and therefore the trickier it is to get everyone together for Court so this increase is interesting.
- The judge decided that the trial will have a time estimate of 6 days with 1 additional day for preparation by the Judge and their reading.
- The University has previously stated they wanted to rely on some articles of the European Convention of Human Rights in order to prevent us from accessing full disclosure of the documents relevant to my case. This would have been potentially detrimental to my case, so I was relieved that the judge ordered the University to make full disclosure of all documents.
- Additionally, we can apply for specific inspection of any document.
- The Circuit Judge will sit with a lay assessor and the assessor will be qualified to sit on sex discrimination claims. I have two claims relating to treatment I received on the basis of my sex.
- Litigation requires that the exchange of documents and agreement on experts commences fairly soon. Keep in mind that bullying and harassment against me started (and never stopped after that) in January 2018 and I filed my student complaint on 1 February 2018. However, in correspondence before last Thursday, the University argued that the case had to, essentially, be postponed over all summer months because according to their lawyers, the people who already work on year-round contracts involved in my claim were allegedly bound to the academic calendar and would be inaccessible and unable to collaborate over the summer period. I find it incomprehensible how instead of making their case swiftly and decisively, their only tactic appears to be to run from the case. In any case, this very bold move was clearly nonsense but I am very glad they presented this argument because it allowed the opportunity to hear the Judge tell the University of Bristol that they need to get on with it. It is important to note that almost all the people in decision-making positions regarding my case are either senior management or work in the Secretary's Office (the University's legal department). None of them disappear from the face of the Earth over the summer.
There are two things I want to mention that were particularly upsetting to me. The first one is that our CMC was procedural (a hearing to agree on what days parties have to exchange certain documents, serve expert reports, etc). The timetable presented by the University to my lawyers, prior to last Thursday, would have pushed the dates of my trial way farther into 2022 than the timetable we presented to them. They wanted the trial window of a trial to only commence after March 2022, when they know full well, that as things stand today my British Residence Permit expires in April 2022. That is, the University of Bristol which to this day has a duty of care to me, wants me to pack my bags, be at the final stages of a legal case and maybe finish a PhD all at the same time. Additionally, they wanted to ensure that I would not be present in the UK so that I could attend my own trial and have my day in court. The fact that they would treat any student this way, but particularly an international student given the added vulnerabilities we face being isolated from our homes, is beyond my comprehension. It is hard for me to put into words how repulsive I find the actions of the lowlife people involved in my case (including the bullies). Just when I thought they could not sink any lower, they find a new compartment.
Speaking of which, as I have mentioned before, the University's defense so far has been "nothing happened, but whatever happened its Raquel's fault." Interestingly, now they are also claiming that they are the true victims here. From their point of view, this legal case is the tragic tale of the billion-pound UK academic institution that got ruthlessly ensnared by the immigrant student who used her feminist wiles to cloud their thinking. Although I am adding some gallows humour to the situation, this truly is their defense.
They claim that I, or as the University has referred to me in their legal documents, "Rachel Sanchez" from "Panama" has bamboozled them by asking them to uphold their own institutional policies and to protect UK law. They also used the CMC as an opportunity to refer to me and/or my campaigning as "feral". As all DR people (particularly the men) can attest, no Dominican woman has ever been called "feral", so I want to apologise to my people for letting the side down.
I invite you all to please witness my savage ways in the video of my Oral Evidence at the Women and Equality Select Committee yesterday. I spoke about the importance of protecting women's sex-based rights as they are already enshrined in UK law and single-sex spaces, in order to uphold women's right to privacy, safety and dignity: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/bc9e8fcd-fa51-4c2c-9666-72d545bed3a8
Alongside this, I ask you to please watch the footage of the behaviour displayed by Bristol Uni trans activist students, that I reported throughout, on this BBC documentary and on this Mumsnet thread. You will observe multiple students being forcibly removed from a number of feminist events they were threatening, either by the Police or campus security. When you watch them, please keep in mind that this is the behaviour that the University of Bristol will spend 7 days defending in court.
Ps. In the whole saga between me and the University of Bristol, this is one of the saddest messages I have received. No student ever dreams of feeling this was about their alma mater. If I had told the woman I was when I got accepted into the University of Bristol how they would be treating me down the line, I would straight-up not believe it. What I am feeling right now is oceans away from the excitement, the hopefulness and just the sheer elation I felt when I first stepped into Bristol. This current situation is the result of spineless leadership whose endless dithering prioritizes profits and bullies over the well-being of some, non-elite educated students and the rule of law.
Raquel Rosario Sánchez
March 13, 2021
Case Management Conference in April
Hope you are well and staying safe during these intense times.
First: Last week, one of my lawyers moved to a new law firm; from Slater and Gordon to Doyle Clayton. CrowdJustice requires that you set up a new page to list the new law firm and close the previous page in order to redirect the funding to the correct place. I have now closed my original page.
Second: The legal case against the University of Bristol is moving forward. Our Case Management Conference is scheduled for 15 April 2021. This is a procedural hearing to decide the trial dates, specify disclosure and confirm the witnesses who will testify for each party. The University says they will have 5 witnesses testifying against me, while I will have 1 other person to stand with me defending my case. The University says they anticipate the trial will take 7 days, while we argue it might take 5 days. A CMC is where these matters are determined. The court has stated they want my case to be decided this year of 2021.
Thirdly: I want to explain to you why I made the decision to remain at the Crowdjustice platform after their mistreatment of Allison Bailey. As a campaigner and as a feminist, Allison Bailey is a woman that I deeply respect and admire. I have wanted to leave Crowdjustice ever since the moment they made the decision to mistreat her by, unceremoniously and without warning, erasing her words and experiences from the platform.
I had heard about the possibility of creating an alternative platform for all the feminists who have been targeted by institutions as a result of our defense of existing sex-based rights, and if that came about, I've been hoping to join that. However, that has not materialized yet, probably because it would be massively time consuming, and all of us have jobs and/or family care responsibilities that we must prioritize, aside from our legal cases. Allison obviously found a third way, which was to raise funds on her own website. I've thought about this a lot and I wish that I could do the same thing but I can't, because of my context as an immigrant.
We don't have a culture of crowdfunding legal efforts in the Dominican Republic. Aside from that, the amount of money I am asking from the public is exorbitant to any reasonable Dominican person, and I am already so worried about how that might be perceived. What I get from Crowdjustice is that they provide an independent platform, devoted exclusively to help fund legal cases, where the money goes directly from donor to law firm. And that dynamic is clear to all external people. I would obviously never do anything with the money other than pay my excellent team of lawyers but I am conscious of how the optics of me raising obscene amounts of money on my own website might look from the perspective of people who are not familiar with these dynamics.
Crowdjustice has been nothing but helpful and encouraging to me personally, but I truly hate that staying on this platform makes me complicit in the way they treated Allison, which I think was unacceptable. The first person I informed of the position I found myself in was Allison herself. She was, characteristically, very kind and understanding. I hope you all can be equally understanding of this decison. I have also emailed Crowdjustice's CEO Julia Salasky to inform her of my thoughts on this matter.
As always, thank you all very much for your interest in my case and our collective fight for academic freedom. By far, the average donation to this legal challenge has been £10-£25, so I am delighted that this is truly a grassroots effort. Every single pound is helpful and even if you can't donate, your messages of support and solidarity are just as valuable and appreciated. THANK YOU!
I will inform you of new developments after our April 15th Case Management Conference.
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