The College has released the investigation findings surrounding Varsity 2015, with Sport Imperial and the College offering up apologies to the Women’s Rugby team.
The investigation follows allegations made by the Women’s Rugby team that they were treated unfairly compared to the men’s team, who also played at the sporting event at The Stoop, Twickenham.
The women’s team were left playing to an empty stadium after coaches were allowed to leave the stadium early, which also resulted in leaving some members of the team without a way to get back to South Kensington after the game.
They also reported abusive behaviour from a member of Sport Imperial staff, and several girls on the team reporting that the same member was heard over a walkie-talkie to say “I don’t care how those fat girls get home.”
The report found the team had “been made a mockery of [and] had not consistently not been given the same level of consideration as their male counterparts.”
Neil Mosley, Head of Sport Imperial, has said: “Everyone involved in organising Varsity is deeply sorry that the experience at the evening showcase fell so short of what the athletes and attendees deserved, particularly for the Women’s Rugby Club.”
“The investigation has revealed some clear failings and we need to hold up our hands to these and take time to address them properly – we’ll be working closely with students and Imperial College Union as we do this.”
Alice Gast, the President of Imperial also has added her apologies: “We wanted to let you know how very sorry we are that your experience at this year’s Varsity fell so far short of the standards all of us would expect.
“It is unacceptable that talented women in our community have been made to feel like second-class citizens.”
All complaints made by the team were upheld or partially upheld, although no evidence was found for the alleged verbal abuse towards the girls.
Despite this, the investigation did find that there had been discourteous behaviour from one member of Sport Imperial staff, who the report states will still be offering a personal apology to those affected.
The investigation found that: “It was accepted that the women’s rugby match was marred by a series of incidents and their experience on the evening was different to that of their male counterparts.”
The report also states that simply “not enough thought” had been given to numerous caveats of the event, and that there was poor organisation of transport and an error in communicating these arrangements to the women’s team.
The report states that the coaches were allowed to leave early by the Stoop staff due to “[concern] for the safety of the spectators,” as there was a build up of a crowd around the exit of the stadium amidst rumours that there were a reduced number of coaches available to take people home.
The report concluded: “that not enough thought or understanding was given to the specific needs of the female players – who had never played at the Stoop before.”
The investigation was conducted by Jane Neary, Director of Campus Services, and Kani Kamara, Equality and Diversity Manager, and was assisted by members of Imperial College Union including Deputy Presidents Abigail de Bruin and Chris Kaye.
Actions have also been agreed between Imperial College Union and the College in response to the investigation and the issues it has raised.
These include commissioning external academic research into sexism in sport, and to also introduce a new format for next year’s Varsity so that “it focuses on all sports equally.”
There will also be ban on the sale of spirits on Varsity sites.
Mosley concluded: “Sport Imperial is very fortunate to work every day with a student community that’s enthusiastic, engaged and diverse in its sporting activities – and we’re proud to provide a team and facilities to support that community.
“I’m pleased that the investigation’s findings encourage us to explore how we can best support all sport at Imperial and look forward to collaborating with the Union as we develop a single strategy for sport here.”
Mona Theodoraki, Captain of the team, said: “It was unfortunate the way the events at Varsity played out, however Imperial have dealt with this very well and I’m happy to see something good come out of this.”