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Students air their concerns over undergraduate’s death
STUDENTS at Oxford University have written an open letter about their concerns following the death of a philosophy undergraduate. Signed by 135 students and alumni, the letter says they are worried about the lack of information given after Charlotte Coursier died last year.
Last month, Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard Miss Coursier, 25, a first-year BPhil student at St Edmund Hall, killed herself after splitting with boyfriend Benjamin Fardell.
She was found dead by her housemates at her home in Catherine Street, East Oxford, on June 10.
Miss Coursier, who had a history of depression and had overdosed on paracetamol in her second year at Edinburgh University, had split up with Mr Fardell in London that morning, months after having an abortion.
The court heard less than a month before, on May 19, she reported former boyfriend Pembroke College philosophy lecturer Dr Jeffrey Ketland to the police for harassment after she received a number of emails from him, from May 7 onwards.
The inquest was told she and Dr Ketland previously had a relationship while she was at university in Edinburgh and that police had issued him with a warning under the Harassment Act. The open letter, including signatures from Sarah Pine, Oxford University Student Union Vice-President for women and Elena Cagnoli, graduate student women’s representative for the philosophy department, says: “It is known that the university has conducted a review, which concluded in October.
“Charlotte’s alleged harasser, Dr Jeffrey Ketland, remains an employee of the university, and has had institutionally mediated contact with students since the university began its review.
“We worry about the lack of information communicated to students.”
They also say they have concerns about the decision made regarding Dr Ketland after the review began. The inquest heard the cause of Miss Coursier’s death was hanging and assistant coroner for Oxfordshire Nicholas Graham recorded a verdict of suicide.
Oxford University spokesman Stephen Rouse said: “The university can confirm it has received the open letter and has noted its contents.
“All university policies are kept actively under review.”
On the question of communication with students, the university added: “The Department of Philosophy has held a meeting with graduate students to inform them of the outcome of the inquest into Charlotte’s death and to discuss any questions arising.”
In an earlier statement, the university said the purpose of the review was to inform senior members of the university of the circumstances of Miss Coursier’s death. It said the findings were confidential but that it was considering the most appropriate action to take.
Dr Ketland was unavailable for comment.
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