A New Report Reveals Even More About Sexual Harassment And Hazing At USyd’s St. Paul’s College
Students were pressured to eat sheep hearts, and bring women to a mattress and alcohol-filled "Bone Room".
Content warning: this article contains descriptions of hazing and sexual harassment at university colleges.
A new report has revealed the appalling details of college culture at the elite St. Paul’s College at the University of Sydney, where students have been forced to eat sheep hearts, auctioned off to older students and dumped in the wilderness, and encouraged to bring women students to the “Bone Room”, a room full of alcohol and mattresses.
The report, released today, is the result of a review into college culture at St. Paul’s conducted by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick. You might remember this as the review St. Paul’s refused to cooperate with for many months, with former warden Dr. Ivan Head explaining that the college would prefer to conduct its own internal review. The college finally relented in 2017 and allowed Broderick access after pressure from media and student activists.
Broderick’s findings included a range of college traditions featuring hazing and sexual harassment. These included previously reported instances of sexist and racist graffiti on the wall behind the college bar, and the practice of chanting sexist and racist slogans around a fire pit. Broderick’s team also interviewed students from nearby women-only colleges who said they had been subject to catcalling and sexist behaviour at the St. Paul’s College bar. Students from the college told the review that many of these practices, including the tradition of bringing drunk female students to the mattress-filled Bone Room, had ceased in recent years.
The report made a number of recommendations to improve college culture, including that students at St. Paul’s be required to undertake education on sexual ethics and respectful relationships, and that the college engage an independent expert to be a first point of contact for students who have experienced sexual harassment and assault on campus.
St. Paul’s College announced today that it accepts and has started implementing all of the report’s recommendations, and “is determined to be a leader in fighting sexism, sexual harassment, and sexual assault”. It has released an action plan detailing the steps it intends to take to address the issues.
Student advocacy groups, however, say the Broderick report doesn’t go far enough, with End Rape On Campus director Anna Hush criticising the report’s “lukewarm and whitewashed perspective on college culture”.
“Once again, it centres the voices of college men leaping to defend their institutions, rather than survivors of sexual violence,” Hush said. Hush co-authored the Red Zone report released earlier this year, which uncovered extensive allegations of hazing and sexual harassment at residential colleges at Australian universities.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
Men can access anonymous confidential telephone counselling to help to stop using violent and controlling behaviour through the Men’s Referral Service on 1300 766 491.