Sexual Harrassment on Campus

The sexual harassment perpetrated by Alexander Wright is now well-known across campus. If you don’t know about it, check out Honi Soit’s reportage online. It is enlightening as a striking example of how the uni and wider society undermine and devalue the experiences of wom*n. This woman spoke out about her assault, put her hand out for help and some semblance of justice or action, and the university did nothing substantial. Yet when Alexander Wright’s identity is made public, the university jumped to protect his ‘privacy’. It is horrifying that an institution we get our academic enrichment from participates in and maintains the destructive patriarchal sexist conditions that we live in. Want to see evidence of rape culture? This is it.

The SRC takes sexual harassment very seriously, but has historically lacked the funding and infrastructure to provide services to those in need. Services like a hotline for anonymous reporting of sexual harassment on campus should be readily available, as well as an immediate point of contact for harassment that occurs in residential colleges or at university-run events. There is a severe lack of initiative in the university.

There are external services available to Sydney University students, such as the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Sexual Assault Service and the NSW Police Force online reporting service, but these should not preclude an internal set of services or a clearly stipulated university code of conduct. It’s also important to recognise that harassment can be subtle, or it can be labelled as a ‘joke’ or even as flattery, but sexual harassment can be incredibly pervasive and should be taken seriously by the entire university community. Further, we believe that any case of sexual harassment affecting members of this university community must be dealt with on a survivor-centric basis.

Keep your eyes peeled for an autonomous action speaking out about Wright’s reprehensible conduct and the uni’s neglectful mishandling of the crime. Also don’t forget Reclaim the Night will be on October 31 at Hyde park.

Lastly, if you or anyone you know has either experienced sexual assault or feels confused or unsure about an unwanted sexual experience and would like to speak to someone, please contact RPAH Sexual Assault Service on (02) 9515 9040 between 8:30am and 5pm weekdays or (02) 9515 6111 anytime if the sexual assault happened in the last 7 days.

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