O-Week was incredible for the Women’s Collective. We had 400 students sign up to get involved! This is a shocking, unprecedented number. If you were one of them, WELCOME! If you weren’t… it’s never too late to get involved in feminist organising on campus.
Unfortunately, O-Week is also the time during the university calendar when students are most likely to experience rape. The front page of the smh the Monday of O-Week detailed End Rape On Campus’ report ‘Connecting the Dots’. The report chronicles the chronic failings of universities to respond appropriately to sexual assault and to prevent the assaults in the first place. For example, the report exposes that there have been only six expulsions in the past five years despite more than 500 official complaints. In addition to this, USyd’s own data shows that out of all students who had experienced sexual assault, only 1% of them ever made a formal report to the University.
This is why as part of O-Week, WoCo members handed out “Consent Condoms” – condoms with a sticker on the package reading “check they’re into it, before you get into it”. We did this because the university abnegated its responsibility to prevent sexual violence by rejecting the mandatory education module for all students. The University’s stance on the consent module is ludicrous and goes against the University’s own practice of promoting several online modules from plagiarism to cultural competency.
We know that young people are far more likely than any other age bracket to experience sexual assault. And prevention through consent education is key to eradicating sexual violence on campus. We need a behavioural transformation in order to create a campus with zero tolerance for sexual violence.
Everyone has a right to an education free from sexual violence and universities have the responsibility to provide that. As tens of thousands of students return to USyd this week, we must question the University’s ability – also willingness – to ensure that these tens of thousands can study safely. If you think the uni should be doing better by you, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, support is available by contacting NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017.