Earlier today, we published an article titled “Uni fails sexual harassment victim”. We posted a link to the piece on Facebook at 1 pm. Within 5 hours, the article had been viewed over 4,000 times. Within those same 5 hours, the University and other parties contacted the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) – the organisation that prints and funds Honi Soit – expressing concerns over the perpetrator being identified in the article. It is unclear if there is any legal basis to these concerns. It appears to be an amorphous group of complaints, concerned with his “safety” and “privacy”. None are related to claims of defamation.
None of the complainants have alleged any factual inaccuracy, or made any mistake as to the veracity of our reporting. Rather, the University is worried with us naming him and identifying his place of work, which, itself is associated with the University.
The editorial team was obliged to obey the instructions of the SRC. We, however, strongly disagree with the concerns raised by the University and the orders given to us by the SRC.
We are disappointed and infuriated – though, perhaps not surprised – with the University’s chosen course of action. Where it had it dragged its heels for six months – assisted the victim only after repeated prompts, forced her to organise and conduct her own mediation sessions, and failed to discipline the perpetrator (suspending him; banning him from campus; firing him from his position of employment), despite a signed admission of guilt – the University had swiftly, and inexplicably, moved to suppress our public identification of the man.
The Honi Soit editorial team stands by our decision to make public the perpetrator, particularly given the manifest failings of the University’s handling and the inability of the woman to even access the criminal justice system, due to a six-month limitation period.
We believed – and continue to believe – the woman did not receive justice. We believe this was made clear in her account to Honi. We consulted with her before we published details, which identified the perpetrator.
Campus should be a safe space for all students. For the past eight months, the University failed the woman. Today, the University failed all victims of sexual harassment and abuse. It chose to side with someone who disrespected another’s consent in a moment of vulnerability. It sent a message: victims will not find justice from it, but perpetrators will find protection.