Racial insensitivity and cultural appropriation have left members of the team feeling ‘ostracised’Written by Grace Duncan on 16th May 2018
Sydney University Releases Sexual Harassment Study
A recent study has revealed the number of women at University of Sydney colleges facing sexual harassment, with this happening to one in four women at one college
Elizabeth Broderick, a former sex discrimination commissioner in Sydney, undertook a study which revealed a culture of sex and alcohol that students feel pressured to fit into. The study was commissioned by the University of Sydney and five colleges: St Andrew’s, St John’s, Wesley, Women’s and Sancta Sophia. These colleges in particular, have been known for several previous incidents, which brought them to the forefront of national news.
“Hearing them come down your corridor when they’re drunk is scary and you feel too afraid to leave your room
Broderick’s study revealed students felt it intimidating to approach and report sexual harassment. Those that did report their experiences of harassment recounted unwanted kissing, touching, and cornering, most of this occurring in their own college.
One student at the college of St John’s claimed how, ‘boys can be rough and violent when drunk’ and even ‘hearing them come down your corridor when they’re drunk is scary and you feel too afraid to leave your room’.
The five colleges took immediate action by implementing the study’s 13 recommendations. These include: controlling alcohol consumption at college bars better, ensuring more women are in leadership positions, and having a zero tolerance policy towards hazing and sexual harassment. It is reported that there will be a review to assess the progress made in three years time.
The University of Birmingham’s own sexual harassment campaign, Not On, also seeks action to prevent sexual harassment and to help those who have experienced any form of harassment. The campaign encourages students to sign a pledge, aiming to ‘challenge the behaviours around us and educate ourselves on the experience of others’. More information can be found on the Guild of Students’ website.
Redbrick spoke to Holly Campbell, the Guild’s Women Officer, who said ‘I would 100% say that society has a long way to go in tackling sexual harassment and assault. I would also say that University campuses, as places of education, development, and progression, have a responsibility to be at the forefront of this battle against sexual harassment. It is vitally important that all students are educated on the issues of informed and enthusiastic consent, and bystander-ism’.
“It is vitally important that all students are educated on the issues of informed and enthusiastic consent, and bystander-ism
Campbell also commented on her future plans for the University’s campaign, ‘I am hoping to introduce an exit survey at the end of this academic year in order to attain some form of data on how prevalent sexual harassment and assault is at out University, in the hope that this evidence can be used in the future to justify further preventative measures’.
Among the 5 colleges that were investigated in Broderick’s study, particular ones were brought to the forefront. For instance, St Paul’s, an all boys college in Sydney, made headlines previously in 2009 for having a ‘pro-rape’ Facebook page. However, the college has recently come forward in supporting the anti-sexual harassment measures, and will thus be subject to review in June 2018.
As well as this, a report on St. Andrew’s college found that 23% of women experienced sexual remarks directed at them. This is significantly higher than 14%, the percentage of women that have experienced sexual harassment across all five colleges.
Sexual harassment comes in various forms: unwelcome touching, hugging, and kissing was encountered by 18% of women, with inappropriate physical contact happening to 12%. Sexually suggestive comments or jokes that made an individual feel offended was reported as affecting 11% of women, and intrusive questions about one’s private life/physical appearance that also made someone feel offended also affected 11%. 8% of female survey respondents, and 2% of men surveyed, experienced actual or attempted sexual assault.
One respondent claimed that, ‘many women at Andrew’s are too scared or uncomfortable with challenging the authority of these men’. This becomes evident when it is considered how the number of students that attend annual events at the college, has significantly dropped.
“Many women at Andrew’s are too scared or uncomfortable with challenging the authority of these men
The Vice Chancellor of Sydney University Michael Spence stated that this recent report sheds light on the ‘embedded cultural challenges’ related to the experiences of women at college. Spence claimed that Rob Stokes, New South Wales Education Minister, is watching progress and has the ability to change legislation that governs colleges. This reform will take place if no sufficient progress is made, come the imminent review in 2018.