Last Friday, Annie Teriba, a prominent Oxford University student activist, announced she would resign from her various campus appointments after confessing that she had had sex without properly obtaining consent from her partner.
In a statement initially posted on Facebook, Teriba wrote that at a NUS Black Students’ Conference earlier this year, she failed to “properly establish consent before every act” and that she “should have been more attentive to the person’s body language.” Her behavior in this specific incident is not isolated, she continued, since she also once “touched somebody in a sexual manner” without their permission when she was drunk at a club.
The OUSU Women’s Campaign responded to Teriba’s admission with a statement, which mirrors Teriba’s careful language while condemning the substance of her statement (which, notably, did not label her own actions as rape).
“Rape apologism manifests itself in infinite forms: we define it as any discourse that refers to sexual assault as anything other than what it is— unacceptable and appalling abuse. The statement recently shared [below] is, unfortunately, rife with apologism and we do not condone it or the violence it describes,” it reads.
“WomCam is committed to ensuring that liberation spaces remain abuser-free—without our full-hearted commitment to this cause, we have no business campaigning on women’s issues. Any institution that protects abusers at the expense of survivors’ wellbeing is one that must be dismantled and reformed.”
OUSU’s vice president for women Lucy Delaney said of the incident, “In a society which silences survivors and which tolerates rape apologism it is essential that liberation spaces do not harbour or protect abusers, otherwise they are no better than the institutions which perpetuate oppression.”
The Oxford Student reports:
Teriba has been one of the university’s most prominent campaigners for equal rights, particularly through her work with NoHeterOx, Oxford’s zine for LGTBQ+ students. During Trinity term 2015, she was also heavily involved with Rhodes Must Fall’s opposition to the Oxford Union following an incident in which a cocktail called “The Colonial Comeback” was served at a debate over colonial reparations. This campaign resulted in the Oxford Union declaring themselves ‘institutionally racist’ and mandating racial awareness workshops for committee members.
Read Teriba’s complete statement below:
This statement explains why I will be stepping back from political campaigning from now.
(I owe you a proper explanation, so will go into details here which you may find triggering.)
At this year’s NUS Black Students’ Conference, I had sex with someone. The other party later informed me that the sex was not consensual. I failed to properly establish consent before every act. I apologise sincerely and profoundly for my actions. I should have taken sufficient steps to ensure that everything I did was consensual. I should have been more attentive to the person’s body language. In failing to clarify that the person consented to our entire encounter, I have caused serious irreparable harm.
In a separate incident, in my first year of university, I was alerted to my inappropriate behaviour whilst drunk in a club, where I had touched somebody in a sexual manner without their consent. Therefore this is not an isolated incident. I apologise sincerely and profoundly for my actions.
With these incidents I have rightly lost the trust of those who I organise with and fully intend to work to ensure that I both put my politics into practice in my personal relations and to prove to them that I am committed to transformation. As such, it would be wrong of me to accept platforms and access spaces until I have done so.
In order to ensure the safety of others, I will be taking a number of steps:
i) I breached NUS’s safe spaces policy, so will not be attending future NUS events.
ii) I am resigning from all the political positions I hold – from NCAFC’s National Committee and from the NUS’s Black Students’ Committee, and as editor of the No Heterox** zine and as the People of Colour and Racial Equality Officer at Wadham SU, Oxford.
iii) I will be stepping back from prominent campaigning in other forums, including#RhodesMustFall and rs21.
iv) I commit to getting help with how I consume alcohol. It is clear that I lack self-awareness and become sexually entitled when I am drunk. This does not excuse my actions, I am wholly responsible for the damage that I have caused.
v) I commit to educating myself properly about consent by reading zines and other materials which have kindly been made available to me.
vi) I commit to seeking help from perpetrator organisations - for example, I have taken steps to establish contact with RESPECT and will be seeking out organisations who specifically deal with sexual violence.
I am deeply sorry for the hurt I caused.
Yours, Annie Teriba
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via Wikimedia.