Last Tuesday the Australian Human Rights Commission released their landmark report on sexual assault and harassment at Australian universities. At The University of Sydney 31% of students surveyed reported experiencing sexual harassment at university and 2.5% were sexually assaulted in a university setting. If you are sitting in a lecture with 100 students, its likely that 7 of your peers sitting in that room will have been sexual assaulted in the past year and 50 of them will have been sexually harassed.
The prevalence of sexual assault at The University of Sydney is nothing new. For too long our university has protected perpetrators of sexual assault in order to protect their own branding and silenced survivors in the process. At the University of Sydney between 2011–2016 there were 52 formal reports of sexual misconduct and 6 formal reports of sexual assault resulting in only one expulsion.
What is clear is that our university has failed us. They have failed to provide us with a safe campus free of sexual assault. They have failed to support survivors. They have chosen silence over action.
The fight against sexual assault on our campus does not end with the release of this report.
On Wednesday your SRC marched with hundreds of students across the state today to demand an end to sexual violence on our campuses. We will not be silenced. Your SRC will continue to fight for change and won’t stop fighting until Sydney University takes action.
If you are needing support at this time you can make a free call to 1800 572 224 and speak to a 24/7 trauma specialist counsellor.
Sexual Harassment Officers’ Report
Nina Dillon Britton and Jessica Syed
We write to you at a pivotal time regarding tangible progress relating to sexual assault and harassment on campus. The results of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC) national survey into sexual violence in Australian universities was released last week. Though its results were shocking, with more than half of students experiencing such violence in 2016, they were not surprising. In particular, they were not suprising for survivors who have been adamant about their experiences for years – experiences which Universities did not take seriously and in, in spite of this report, experiences that universities will still not take seriously.
It’s important to remember USyd’s track record when an event like this puts its reputation in the limelight. Hastily condemning St Paul’s College after a sexist Facebook post goes viral, absolutely committing to the recommendations put forward in the AHRC report, et cetera.
Then, behind our backs, deploying campus security to remove posters advertising the August 2nd anti-sexual violence rally, refusing to take on board the advice given by student representatives and survivors during consultative committees, not instating a sexual-assault specific counsellor within CAPS, not publicising its own helpline for complaints. It’s not good enough.
What we’re saying to you is: don’t let your guard down, and don’t let USyd ride this PR wave. If you identify as a woman or non-binary person, join the USyd Wom*n’s Collective on Facebook and help continue to build the campaign. Call out rape culture if you spot it in your tutes or amongst your friends. Keep an eye out for rallies and events; take a stand.
Some good news: the National University Support Line is now active 24/7 until November 30; if you need to speak to a trauma-specialist counsellor, the number is 1800 572 224.
We would like to use this space this week to congratulate the work of 2016 Wom*n’s officer Anna Hush, and her 2017 counterparts, Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn who in tandem with each other continue to do inspiring and important work in the face of a system which won’t budge. It is only through the tireless work of activists like them – such as the organisation of the mass multi-university protest that happened on Wednesday – that we will see change.
If you have experienced sexual assault or harassment, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
International Students Officers’ Report
Helena Ng Wai Ting, Yifan Kong, Wenxin Fang and Zhixian Wang
During the last semester, our collective has organized a revue watching after the election, helping international students to get more familiar with Aussie humor culture, and wanting to make international fellas from uni before semester 1 ended. Collective officers saw a great interest from our collective members in watching the revue, and successfully get 11 fellas signed up, from both Facebook page and WeChat personal messages. At the same time, our new event officer got in touch with JEWS and they kindly offered us a discount price. We gave out free tickets, also were planning to arrange a social dinner after the show. However, due to the miscommunication with both parties, the event had been cancelled one night before the show. Our officers and event officers showed our sincere apologies to all the students signed up for the inconvenience, and promised that we would organise better event in the second semester.
Our plans for semester 2:
1. The FairFare Campaign
New South Wales is the only state that does not offer travel concession to both under- and postgraduate international students. But we want you to have cheaper bus/train tickets. We will do this by organizing campaigns in cooperation with other student organizations.2. International Student Council Meeting
The International Student Council (ISC) is the consultative body to University of Sydney Union. International students basically tell USU what they want through this platform. Last year USU launched a new WeChat Official Account (Hooray!) to better communicating with Chinese international students on campus out of demands of the Council.
3. International Students Honi Soit
Is there anything cooler than having articles published in Australian’s oldest student newspaper? YES! That’s having a whole edition contributed to international students’ stories.
4. International Students Revue
For now, we have Jew/Queer/ Wom*n/ ACAR revues produced by USU, and we are planning to have International students’ revue to showcase our identity proudly on stage.
Note: The international students’ officers were due to submit their report last week but have sent it in this week.