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USyd inter-college greyhound racing event draws backlash

The inter-collegiate race night event is being boycotted by Sancta Sophia College

An inter-collegiate event promoted by students from St Andrew’s College and attended by students of St Paul’s and Wesley College of Sydney University is being publicly boycotted by Sancta Sophia College and condemned by a greyhound rescue organisation. 

In a message to all students this morning, the Principal of Sancta Sophia College, Fiona Hastings, condemned the event.

“Please be aware that Sancta does not support, and is indeed strongly opposed to this event, and we ask that you do not attend,” the post read, expressing concerns over students participating in betting activities, the animal cruelty of greyhound racing and the industry’s negative publicity in recent years.

The event, ‘Neds Friday Night Lights,’ is expected to take place tomorrow night at Wentworth Park.

Wentworth Park is one of Sydney’s oldest greyhound racing venues with the first appearance of the practice dating back to 1932.

‘Neds Friday Night Lights’ will feature “10 races, in less than three hours,” according to Greyhound Racing New South Wales Chief Executive Tony Mestrov.

The night will follow a “Party at the Park” theme, including a DJ, Hot-Tub, table tennis, mechanical bull, pinball machines, Instagram photo booth, food trucks and the opportunity to win the chance to sing the National Anthem.

Honi understands senior College staff are working to limit the promotion of the event.

“The College Heads have sought to prevent its promotion amongst their student communities,” the Sancta Sophia College spokesperson said.

Sancta Sophia College was joined by St John’s College in withholding support for the event, according to a statement on Friday.

“As an organisation, St John’s College does not support greyhound racing and does not regard attendance at this type of event as an appropriate activity to be undertaken by Sydney University college students.”

A St John’s College spokesperson told Honi that St John’s students will not be participating in the race night.

Co-founder of Sydney charity Greyhound Rescue, Peter Flann, has asked students planning to attend the event to reconsider their intentions.

“Do the event promoters really want to expose students to an industry which kills thousands of greyhounds every year? They’re also pushing student money towards the betting industry, via which many families are ruined. We ask all students not to attend this event.”

The New South Wales Government’s 2016 Special Commission of Inquiry into the Greyhound Racing Industry made key findings into the systemic mistreatment and harm to greyhounds in the industry.

Of the 97,783 greyhounds bred between 2004 and 2012, approximately 50,000 to 70,000 were killed because they were deemed uncompetitive as racing dogs, equating a “wastage” rate of 50 to 70 per cent.

The Baird Liberal Government backflipped on a greyhound racing ban in late 2016.

St Andrews College did not provide comment in time for publication.

Editor’s note: This article was amended on 26 March 2019 to reflect the opposition of St John’s College to the greyhound racing event.