Sexual Harassment Officer’s Report, Week 5, Sem 2, 2016

Olivia Borgese

“I’ve spoken to students all around Australia and it’s the same story. It feels like groundhog day.”

Bill Murray’s iconic film is a sad but fitting reference to the discourse and lack of University action in regards to sexual harassment and assault on campus. After reading Nina Dillon Britton’s article on Nina Funnell in Honi (‘The Most Empowering Thing I Ever Did Was Politicize My Own Assault’), the driving force behind Funnell’s advocacy for sexual assault survivors strikes me as just this; students valiantly leading the charge whilst the university drags its feet behind, bringing a very lacklustre effort to any change.
The momentous success of student activism against sexual harassment and assault on campus this year has received a lot of positive media coverage. Yet the University’s constant failure to support students that have experienced harassment and/or assault, combined with inadequate and inappropriate reporting mechanisms, a lack of disciplinary action against perpetrators and a timid avoidance of the deep-rooted misogyny of the colleges remains disappointing and disheartening.

Why has nothing changed since Funnell’s experience on campus? Why are we are still fighting for the students who have to face their perpetrators on Eastern Avenue with no institutional support? Why are there still no clear procedures on how to report experiences of harassment and assault?

Funnell doesn’t think anything has changed since she was at University and neither do I.
We can’t lose momentum, we need to re-frame the fight. Fighting against sexual harassment and assault shouldn’t be an activist movement – regardless of our gender, age, race, religion or political stance, we all deserve to be safe and supported on and off-campus.

If you are interested in ending the time loop, please send me an email at harassment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au or contact the Usyd Wom*n’s Collective 2016 via Facebook.