A high profile student activist who has campaigned against “rape culture” has resigned from all political position and barred herself from National Union of Students (NUS) events and safe spaces because she is “unsafe.” She said she had “failed to properly establish consent before every act” during a sexual encounter at the NUS annual conference, and had “touched somebody in a sexual manner” in a night club three years ago.
Third year Oxford student Annie Teriba is best know for her driving role in the iconoclastic #Rhodesmustfall campaign to remove “racist” historical statues of Cecil Rhodes from campus, and for forcing the Oxford Union to declare themselves “institutionally racist” and mandate racial awareness workshops for committee members, because they organised a cocktail party called “The Colonial Comeback.”
She is also editor of the No Heterox** zine blog, the People of Colour and Racial Equality Officer at Wadham College Student Union (SU), and a member of both the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) National Committee and the NUS’s Black Students’ Committee.
Many online have criticised Teriba for not describing the nonconsensual act as rape, including the Oxford University Student Union (OUSU) Women’s Campaign – with which she was heavily involved – who said, “rape apologism manifests in infinite forms” on facebook, and that Teriba’s “statement recently shared below is, unfortunately, rife with apologism and we do not condone it nor the violence it describes.”
Annie Teriba: 'Oxford Union need to take genuine steps to combat rape culture' pic.twitter.com/ZQvP3G6xm7
— Cherwell (@Cherwell_Online) June 5, 2014
In a statement released on her Facebook page, which has now been taken down, reproduced by OUSU Women’s Campaign, Teriba began:
“[TW sexual assault, sexual violence] 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.
She goes on to state that she will resign from her roles with NCAFC, NUS’s Black Students’ and Wadham College SU, and that it would be “wrong of me to accept platforms and access spaces” before “transform[ing]” herself via a series of measures.
These include not attending any future NUS events because she has “breach[ed]” their “safe space” policy and “commit[ting] to getting help with how I consume alcohol. It is clear that I lack self-awareness and become sexually entitled when I am drunk.”
She is also “committed to educating [herself] properly about consent by reading zines and other materials” and “commit[ed] 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.”
The OUSU Women’s Campaign also said in their statement that they were, “committed to ensuring that liberation spaces remain abuser-free.”
Wadham College SU said they had received a formal letter of resignation from Teriba in a statement, and that they are “committed to the safety and welfare of all its students.” Adding: “It would be entirely inappropriate for [Teriba] to remain in the Wadhem SU Committee.”