Messages of solidarity and support amid the Sarah Everard case have been scrubbed away by the University of Lincoln to ‘fit COVID-19 protocol’.
Chalk markings calling for gender equality were drawn onto the public benches between the Engine Shed and the university library on Wednesday, March 17, in response to the tragic death of Sarah Everard.
Everard went missing on March 3 when walking home alone at night in Clapham, her body was then found ten days later at woodlands in Kent.
Serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens has been charged with the 33-year-old’s kidnap and murder, and faces trial this autumn.
A memorial was put up on University Library Bridge in Lincoln, which has stayed in place despite the cleaning of the benches.
The University of Lincoln said that, due to the coronavirus pandemic, public benches must be regularly cleaned to fit protocol, and that is the reason for the messages being removed.
Messages were also etched across the city of Lincoln, including on the footbridge at Brayford Wharf East and Hungate near Home nightclub, but those are still on display, as they are not university property.
It comes on the same day that a second memorial was put up for Sarah Everard, placed on the sign of the old police station at West Parade.
Sarah Everard’s body has been released to her family so that they can plan a funeral for her.
A University of Lincoln spokesperson said: “Following the dreadful murder of Sarah Everard earlier this month, many women everywhere are sharing their experiences of violence, inappropriate behaviour, physical, verbal and sexual abuse expressing how unsafe they feel, and highlighting that for many they feel this on a regular basis.
“It is more than 40 years since the first Reclaim the Night march which raised these issues in our society, and it is unacceptable that so many women still feel unsafe in modern day Britain. The University and the Students’ Union have in recent days discussed the importance of uniting as one community to support women’s right to feel safe.”
Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln said: “As a university we aim to create an environment where everyone feels secure, supported and listened to.
“We will do all we can to ensure our campus and community is safe for all women and all students.
“Importantly, as well as raising awareness of the extent and impact of aggressive and violent behaviour towards women we will ensure these behaviours are challenged, reported and explored.
“It is vital to us that students and staff feel empowered to speak out, knowing their voices will be heard.”
Lucy Krogdahl, Vice President of Wellbeing and Community at Lincoln Students’ Union said: “The events of the last week have made it clear more is needed to prevent violence against women.
“It is a topic that shouldn’t be raised just when something happens and viewed with the lens of ‘it could be your sister/girlfriend/ mother’.
“All women should feel safe no matter when or where they are. Continuous education and a change in attitude is needed to prevent these events from taking place.
“It is not the responsibility of women to do this, it falls on all of us to challenge violent behaviours and the stigma that women are to blame for feeling unsafe in their daily lives.”
A university spokesperson added: “The university has expert support staff so students can come forward without fear, in a positive and supportive environment, where abuse and harassment will not be tolerated. To report any incident (including to make an anonymous report), contact Student Services.”