Oxford student activist, Annie Teriba, resigns after admitting to sex act that was ‘not consensual’

The history and politics student says she is 'committed to transformation' as she highlights the steps she will be putting into place in order to address the situation, also admitting to a similar incident occurring two years ago

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Tuesday 13 October 2015 14:19
The activist speaks at a debate on US racism at Oxford in May
The activist speaks at a debate on US racism at Oxford in May

A prominent Oxford student activist has announced she is to step down from an array of political posts and high profile campaigns after admitting she failed to obtain full consent before having sex at a conference earlier this year.

According to the independent student newspaper of Oxford University Cherwell and the student union publication The Oxford Student, Annie Teriba took to her Facebook profile – which has since been deleted – to release a statement detailing how she became involved with someone while at the National Union of Students (NUS) Black Students’ Conference in May – only for ‘the other party’ to later inform her the sex had not been consensual.

Cherwell says Ms Teriba is a third-year student at one of Oxford’s colleges, Wadham. As well as this, she was people of colour and racial equality officer at Wadham Student Union and the editor of No HeterOx** – described as ‘a zine for queer and trans voices’.

She has apparently also stepped down as a member of both the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts’ (NCAFC) National Committee and the NUS Black Students’ Committee as well as her involvement with Oxford’s anti-racism #RhodesMustFall movement which has been gathering pace in recent months.

Cherwell reported last year on a speech Ms Teriba gave on 'steps to combat rape culture'

In the statement, she acknowledged how a similar incident occurred while she was drunk in a club in her first year and highlights a number of steps she will be taking in order to show how she is ‘committed to transformation’, including help with alcohol consumption and organisations that deal specifically with sexual violence.

Ms Teriba’s statement in full, courtesy of Cherwell and The Oxford Student:

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

Annie Teriba – ‘The United States is institutionally racist’:

Along with women’s campaign officer Stephanie Kelley, the autonomous political group within Oxford University Student Union (OUSU), The Women’s Campaign (WomCam), issued The Independent with a statement, commenting on how, in their opinion, Ms Teriba’s announcement was ‘rife with apologism’ which it does not condone, adding how sexual assault – especially at universities – is ‘one of the most underreported crimes’.

WomCam’s statement in full:

The Women’s Campaign stands behind and believes all survivors of sexual assault and violence – whether or not the incident moves through the courts. Believing and supporting survivors who make the incredibly brave step of sharing their traumatic experience is the first step toward justice: the next is excising abusers and those who enable them from spaces that should be safe for all.

Rape apologism manifests 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 [as above] is, unfortunately, rife with apologism and we do not condone it nor the violence it describes.

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.

Moreover, sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes, especially at universities. Holding those responsible for sexual violence accountable means acknowledging the terrifying fact that violence against women is deeply ingrained in and normalised in our culture: education about the issues, campaigning for the rights of those affected, and continued vigilance about the behaviour we do not condone in our organisation is the only way forward.

Ms Teriba could not be immediately reached for comment and a representative for Wadham said the college was unable to comment on the matter.

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