The St Paul’s College Council has announced it will officially attempt to join the Elizabeth Broderick review into college culture, following further media scrutiny this week over sexist comments made on Facebook.
A University spokesperson told Honi the University “welcomes” the decision, and that “an exploratory meeting will be held between St Paul’s College and Elizabeth Broderick to assess whether the College’s participation is possible”.
The University of Sydney’s only all-male residential college had previously decided to boycott the Broderick review in favour of an internal investigation into their culture.
Honi reported in March that St Paul’s was looking to join the review, but it appears no decisive action was taken until now.
However, a post in the St Paul’s College 2017 Facebook group describing sex with large women as “harpooning a whale” generated significant backlash after being revealed by news.com.au on Monday.
The comments and a subsequent Facebook post by St Paul’s warden Ivan Head warning Paul’s students about the effect that sexist comments might have on their CVs prompted University of Sydney Vice Chancellor Michael Spence to condemn St Paul’s for its “deep contempt for women” on Wednesday.
Students from other colleges boycotted the St Paul’s party on Wednesday night, and the party was later cancelled.
University of Sydney Students’ Representative Council co-women’s officer Imogen Grant said, “this would not have occurred without the hard work of students and survivors who have gone to great lengths to expose its culture of sexism and male entitlement”.
“The fact that students had to advocate for change shows how reactive the college’s decision was and how the safety of women is always secondary to reputational risk.”
Co-women’s officer Katie Thorburn said, “The Council says they will ‘seek the opportunity’ to join the review. Until we see a signature on paper, we will hold off the small golf applause.”
The College currently participates in the Good Lad Initiative, a program aimed at combatting sexist cultures and promoting “positive feminist masculinity”.
Its Australian Program Director Alistair Kitchen said, “The Broderick review will help establish the basis for ongoing cultural change programs like the Good Lad Initiative. We’re excited to join other forces pushing in the same direction.”
Honi has reached out to Elizabeth Broderick and St Paul’s Warden Ivan Head for comment.