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WoCo calls for action on sexual violence at Welcome Week

The USyd Wom*n’s Collective wore graduation caps and gowns painted with sexual assault statistics in a Welcome Week protest.

USyd WoCo protests at Welcome Week Photo: Jazzlyn Breen

Wearing graduation caps and gowns adorned with sexual violence statistics, the Wom*n’s Collective rallied against sexual violence at Welcome Week today.

WoCo drew attention to Red Zone Report estimates that “68 college students are raped each week in Australia” and “78% of students don’t know how to report sexual assault.” The report, published by End Rape on Campus Australia in 2018 provides a much franker image of the grim state of sexual violence at Australian universities than the Broderick Review into USyd colleges.

Photo: Jazzlyn Breen.

Co-Women’s Officer Vivienne Guo told Honi that Welcome Week is a “notoriously dangerous time” for students with “1 in 8 of all sexual assaults in a year happen[ing] during Welcome Week.” Guo said that it was particularly important for the action to happen today because “WoCo believes that it is critical to call out the University when it fails students and prioritises its public image over our safety.”

In a media release, WoCo said that the protest was “specifically targeting the false pristine reputation of this University” and that they were “peeling back the thin veneer to reveal their rotten core – elitism, sexism, and racism.” 

WoCo also distributed flyers demanding a “rape free campus” to onlookers, detailing key statistics and stories of sexual violence at USyd.

WoCo’s flyer.

Last year, University management and the University of Sydney Union renamed “O-Week” “Welcome Week” over concerns the name was too associated with sexual violence.