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St Paul’s looking to join Broderick’s college review into sexual discrimination

This would be a reversal of the college's previous stance.

St Paul's College St Paul's College

St Paul’s College has indicated that it will be participate in Elizabeth Broderick’s review of the University of Sydney residential college culture,  a reversal of its previous stance.

“We support the Broderick review, which complements our own ongoing program on cultural improvement which are standard practice in the college,” Warden Ivan Head told Honi.

The inquiry into sexual assault and harassment has already received support from all other colleges at USyd: St John’s, St. Andrew’s, Women’s, Sancta Sophia, and Wesley.

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence invited Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s former Sex Discrimination Commissioner, to lead a cultural review into the colleges in May last year. At the time, Head told the Sydney Morning Herald that the college was choosing to “exercise its liberty as a self-governing body” and conduct an independent and confidential review of its culture.  

The inquiry was triggered after Honi and Pulp revealed instances of sexual assault and ‘slut-shaming’ at some residential colleges.

A source within St Paul’s College said that while they could not confirm whether St Paul’s was yet “locked in”, there had “certainly [been] positive rumblings”.

“It seems like some of the larger hurdles have been cleared,” they said.  

The source said the college’s hesitation was a result  of students’ concerns that the review would turn into a “witch hunt”.

“The Paul’s men are very distrustful of the Broderick process – the younger guys are scared that they will be sent down the river for the crimes that other people committed, that Broderick has already made her mind up, and that the review will just take a one-size-fits-all approach,” they said.

If St Paul’s is joining the Broderick Review, their decision appears to be part of a wider effort to confront sexual discrimination within their college, with the first workshops of their inaugural “Good Lad Initiative” taking place for their new residents last Tuesday.  

The Good Lad Initiative – originally established by a St Paul’s alumnus at Oxford University – aims to teach men ‘positive masculinity’ and encourages them to go beyond obeying minimum legal standards and act as ‘good lads’ towards women.

Good Lad Initiative facilitator, Alistair Kitchen, said that teaching men to merely “obey the law and stop harming women” is unhelpful and harmful.

“Our current messaging tells men to think of themselves as perpetrators (which they never do), is externally imposed, and doesn’t encourage an internal moral framework, and is very minimal – it sets a low bar,” he said.

“So we replace [the old messaging] with ‘positive masculinity’, which appeals to the way men conceive their positive self-identity – as in they see themselves as good blokes.”

“Our job is to ask them whether their behaviour aligns with the behaviour of a good bloke, or a bloke that just cares about minimum standards… and bring men into dialogue with issues like gender discrimination and sexual assault.”

Honi reached out to the University for comment, but they did not respond before this article was published. We will update this article with their response, should we receive it.