Friday, September 30, 2016

Australia’s Scandalous Colleges Exposed? University of Sydney Appointed a Task Force

Australia’s Scandalous Colleges Exposed? University of Sydney Appointed a Task Force

flickr/PROAdam Jones

Advertisement

The University of Sydney Vice Chancellor has to take action against scandalous colleges after Wesley College’s rampant sexism and mass drinking cultures have been exposed recently. The University has appointed Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick to lead a special task force with the objective to crack down the colleges with rampant sexual behaviour.

Elizabeth Broderick has already previously led four investigations on gender discrimination. She has 8 years experience as Australia’s sex discrimination commissioner and was United Nations Special Advisor for Gender Equality, as per The Sydney Morning Herald.

The task force was created after Wesley College’s refusal to cooperate with the university. The college is not willing to release the names of students associated with its controversial journal “Rackweb”.

Wesley College was embroiled in controversy when some of the students spoke out after a “slut-shaming” journal was exposed. Wesley College administrator refused to name the student authors of the journal that detailed the sexual assaults in the campus. On the other hand, St Andrews College burnt a gay pride flag recently. Students also have complained that the college’s PA system broadcasts weekly news on sexual encounters between students in the college, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

Michael Spence, University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor, on Thursday advised the recently appointed task force. “These stories have been a thorn in our flesh, I do not want to see any more of them. The Chancellor and I have invited the heads of college councils to meet with Ms Broderick to see how we can address concerns that have been legitimately raised. I am sure they will co-operate.”

A recent survey report released by the University of Sydney indicated that one in four respondents were sexually harassed or assaulted as a student, reported Mail Online. The September 2015 survey was conducted  on  2000 Sydney University students.The survey gathered anonymous information from the students. Both the appointment of the task force and the release of the survey is the offshoot of scandals revealing Wesley College and St Andrews College’s  publicly slut-shaming the students.

However, the university is powerless to discipline the colleges without taking extreme measures as all the colleges have councils that operate independently.  The colleges had been asked by NSW Anti-discrimination board in 2000 to come under the university’s sexual harassment policy after a trail of scandals.

The University administration, which has a $600 million annual income from the international students, does not want to tarnish its reputation and is determined to take actions.

As a consequence, the university is planning to introduce a mandatory first-year “university citizenship” course for  undergraduate students. The course will focus on outlining appropriate behaviour and encourage cultural diversity. Moreover, it has set up a Student Complaints Portal to address the students concerns.