University of Sydney ‘s current and former student councilors state that campus sexual assaults have been ignored by the university in a letter addressed to Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence on Monday. The group laments that the management prioritizes the institution’s reputation over student safety.
The letter written by 12 Women’s Officers from the past decade reveals the university’s inaction toward assuring student safety. They also listed their recommendations, which also include several policy changes to ensure sexual harassment and assault do not get ignored.
“For an entire decade, we have been raising the issue of sexual assault and harassment on campus with the administration. For an entire decade, we have been met with resistance to change”, the letter states. “It seems to us that the University has deliberately stalled action on sexual assault, assuming that once Women’s Officers and other activists finish their term or graduate from university, the institutional knowledge required for a sustained campaign on this issue is lost.
The letter also states that stories about students getting raped or harassed are common. These issues only get attention when they are reported by the media but eventually get forgotten once news reporting is stopped.
Anna Hush, a current Women’s Officer, adds that 15 female victims of sexual assault or harassment have approached her since December. Apparently, only one percent of all such cases get reported.
While students can report such experiences online, Hush says that this is an inadequate and inappropriate method. Moreover, a lot of these reports get unsatisfying responses and some are even left unanswered. Hush suggests employing professionals to properly solve these problems.
Meanwhile, the university argues that any issue regarding how management ignores such incidents is false. While the university agrees that sexual assault occurs in campus, they are doing everything they can to support victims and solve the problem once and for all.