An open letter to Andrew Hamilton


This letter first appeared on the blog Feminist Philosophers here. Read a news story about the letter here

Dear Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor

   Dr Stephen Goss, Pro-Vice-Chancellor – Personnel & Equality

   Trudy Coe, Head of Equality and Diversity

   Professor Jonathan Mallinson, Senior Proctor

   Professor Penny Probert Smith, University Assessor

   Dame Lynne Brindley, Master of Pembroke College

   Professor Ewan McKendrick, Registrar 

   cc Frank Arntzenius, Director of Graduate Studies

   cc Professor Keith Gull, Principal of St Edmund Hall

We the undersigned are writing to express concern and dismay at the findings of the inquest into the tragic death of Charlotte Coursier. It is now known that allegations of harassment were reported to the University and police in May 2013, and that the police issued a warning under the Harassment Act. It is also known that the University has since 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.

Our concerns are twofold. We worry about the lack of information communicated to students. We further worry about the decision to keep Dr Ketland in institutionally mediated contact with students after the review began.

We understand that those conducting the review must avoid being prejudicial. We also accept that privacy and due process must be respected. But the lack of comment has created a difficult atmosphere in the Philosophy Faculty. Some students now fear that harassment charges are not taken seriously. Others were upset to only learn of the situation in the national press. We understand that University staff are contractually obliged to abide by University policy and British law (“codes”). But if the relevant codes could be reformed to allow for more openness, we urge that the appropriate reforms are made.

Secondly, it is strongly in the interests of students not to be placed at undue risk of harassment. It seems to us that when harassment allegations are made against a member of staff, the University should limit their institutionally mediated contact with students whilst a review occurs. We think that this is required by the University’s duty of care towards its students. We understand that this duty could have been met by the University codes of practice, which allow for suspending staff with pay during a review process. We refer to University Statute XII: Part D, 19 (4) and section 8.2 of the Staff handbook (Academic-related staff). Yet after the review began, Dr Ketland continued to have institutionally mediated contact with students. In future reviews of harassment allegations, we strongly urge the swift adoption of such a suspension policy.

Yours sincerely,


Jacob Williamson, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Rachel Fraser, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Kian Mintz-Woo, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Sarah Pine, Oxford University Student Union Vice-President: Women

David Schroeren, Graduate Representative, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Anna Comboni, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Katherine Robertson, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Florian Dahl, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Michelle Liu, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Luke Davies, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Laura Goins, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Joseph Carlsmith, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Ole Andreassen, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Andreas Ditter, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Jonathan Courtney, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Teruji Thomas, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Alex Moran, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Michael Deigan, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Wesley Wrigley, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Ketan Ramakrishnan, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Steven Gubka, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Sam Carter, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Maxime Lepoutre, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Antonio Mateiro, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Brooke Berndtson, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Jessica Laimann, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Jake Nebel, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Mark Fiddaman, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Trevor Teitel, BPhil student (Philosophy)

James Matharu, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Benjamin Martin, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Aron Vallinder, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Joanna Demaree-Cotton, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Samuel Meister, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Daniel Kranzelbinder, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Christopher Blake-Turner, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Jonathan Erhardt, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Alexander Roberts, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Christopher Fowles, BPhil student (Philosophy)

Adam Kern, BPhil student (Philosophy)


Elena Cagnoli, Graduate Students Women Representative, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Andy Yu, Graduate Representative, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Catherine Tomas, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Matthias Brinkmann, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Marinella Capriati, DPhil student (Philosophy)

David Mathers, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Luke Brunning, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Gerald Owen Schaefer, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Noelle Lopez, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Harvey Lederman, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Yuuki Ohta, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Niels Martens, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Emanuel Viebahn, DPhil student (Philosophy)

David Egan, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Neil Dewar, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Michael Price, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Nakul Krishna, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Joseph Cregan, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Ben Sorgiovanni, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Andreas Mogensen, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Alexander Kaiserman, DPhil student (Philosophy)

William Jefferson, DPhil student (Philosophy)

James Openshaw, DPhil student (Philosophy)

Gulzaar Barn, DPhil student (Philosophy)


Anna Bradshaw, OUSU Vice President-elect: Women

Suzanne Holsomback, former OUSU Vice President: Women

Eden Tanner, OUSU’s Graduate Women’s Officer

Lucy Delaney, OUSU Women’s Campaign Officer

Rebekka Hammelsbeck, former OUSU Women’s Campaign Officer

Xavier Cohen, OUSU Environment and Ethics Officer

Alice Holohan, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Aliya Yule, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Rajkiran Barhey, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Georgia Harper, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Eleanor Connor, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Caitlin Tickell, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Joshua Davis, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Christopher Pike, Committee member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Jessica Parker Humphreys, member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Anastasia Solopova, member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Annie Teriba, member of OUSU’s Women’s Campaign, undergraduate student

Rachel Nethercott, Committee member of the It Happens Here campaign, undergraduate student

Abigail Burman, member of the It Happens Here campaign, undergraduate student

Camille Fenton, member of the It Happens Here campaign, undergraduate student

Geetanjali Normandale, member of the It Happens Here campaign, undergraduate student


Rey Conquer, DPhil student (German)

Alex Marshall, DPhil student (German)

David Hall, DPhil student (Politics)

Bruno Leipold, DPhil student (Politics)

Jordan Mansell, DPhil student (Politics)

Johannes Kniess, DPhil student (Politics)

Urs Schuffelgen, DPhil student (Experimental Psychology)

Philippa Howarth, DPhil student (Archaeological Science)

Aidan Robinson, DPhil student (Materials Science)

Cameron Taylor, DPhil student (Materials Science)

Eloise Stonborough, DPhil student (English)

Simon Driscoll, DPhil student (Physics)

Courtney Traub, DPhil student (English)

Victoria Davies, DPhil student (Theology)

Christopher Kyle, MPhil student (Philosophical Theology)

Annette Zimmermann, MPhil student (Political Theory)

Leonie Schulte, MPhil student (General Linguistics and Comparative Philology)

Emily Rutherford, MPhil student (Modern British and European History)

Alexandria Hall, MPhil student (Social Anthropology)

Maximilian Weylandt, MPhil student (Development Studies)

Arran Davis, MSc student (Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology)

Zoë Saunders, MSt student (Archaeology)

Natasja Shermis, MSt student (English)

Simone Salmon, MSt student (Music)

Sumil Thakrar, undergraduate student (Philosophy & Physics)

Hannah Smith, undergraduate student, (Philosophy, Politics & Economics)

James Elliot, undergraduate student (History)

William Searby, undergraduate student (History)

Anna Baker, Edinburgh University undergraduate student (Philosophy), Charlotte’s close friend


Carly Minsky, alumna (Philosophy)

Robert Mullins, alumnus (Philosophy)

William Clark, alumnus (Philosophy)

Nora Heinzelmann, alumna (Philosophy)

Maria Mejia, alumna (Ancient Philosophy)

Dhananjay Jagannathan, alumnus (Ancient Philosophy)

Sungwoo Um, alumnus (Philosophy)

Robert Simpson, alumnus (Philosophy)

Benedikt Kahmen, alumnus (Philosophy)

Joseph Bruner, alumnus (Philosophy, Politics & Economics)

Nehaal Bajwa, alumna (Philosophy, Politics & Economics)

David Clancy, alumnus (Ancient History)

Sarah Karacs, alumna (German with Slavonic Studies)

Stephanie Tsang, alumna (Law)

Robert Stearn, alumnus (English)

Alice Bamford, alumna (English)

Anna Thomas, alumna (English)

Elliot Evans, alumnus (Women’s Studies)

John Cant, alumnus (Engineering)

Alastair Hird, alumnus (English)

Jennifer Rabedeau, alumna (English)


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