The University of Sydney’s only all-male residential college has refused to cooperate with a cross-campus cultural review. The review is to be conducted by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick. Instead, St. Paul’s College will be conducting an internal review, but will not make the findings public.
The review was announced back in May, after reports of slut-shaming and sexual misconduct were reported at two other Sydney University colleges.
Sexual assault on university and college campuses is taking centre stage in both Australia and the United States. In Australia, the Australian Human Rights Commission has opened an investigation into sexual assault and abuse at universities. Submissions for the review close December 2nd.
The United States in particular has a serious image problem when it comes to sexual assault on college campuses, especially after the Stanford rape case. Both Vice-President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama have tried to change this. In 2008, Biden went to Obama and asked if he could have staff “within the office of the vice president” to work on violence against women, rather than having the Department of Justice oversee the issue.
At a multi-campus tour in the University of Pittsburgh, Biden spoke to 1000 university students as part of the ‘It’s On Us’ campaign. He said,
“The legal system and the court of public opinion still allowed [sic] prosecutors to ask victims of rape: ‘What were you wearing?’ What difference does it make, what a woman was wearing?”
“We have to change the culture that allows the abuse of women and men, and it must be clear that no means no. when consent cannot be given it is assault, it is a crime, period.”
With St Paul’s College being a separate institution from the university, they can’t be forced to comply with the review.
In response to the review, St Paul’s Warden Dr Ivan Head said,
“Council has exercised its liberty as a self-governing body to pursue the same outcomes in its own way. College has thus engaged its own independent professional in the field of the quantitative and qualitative review of communities and workplaces and is completing a thorough review of core dimensions of College life from the student perspective.”