“At O-Week some student political parties used to do a thing called ‘root to recruit’. It’s where you’d hit on someone you want, and get them to join the party after joining your pants party first.
The jokes reminded me that I was female first, colleague second….if that.”
I have attended university for five years and never been a victim to sexual assault. Unfortunately, I am told to count my lucky stars because a 2015 study “Report on the AAU Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct” found over 20 per sent of all women surveyed experienced unwanted sexual contact while attending university. Campus sexual assault is a hot topic at the moment due to recent incidents around the globe including the objectification of students, derogatory online pages and the Stanford rape case.
In March 2016, medical student Ed Bretherton from the University of Liverpool competed on the English television show University Challenge attracted nation wide attention for being ‘hot’. Many females turned to social media and tweeted sexy and objectifying comments.
In April 2016, a petition is signed by thousands of students to remove ‘Hotties of MU [Melbourne University]’ Facebook page. The page was deemed ‘offensive’ and ‘normalised predatory behaviour towards women.’ The page also contained personal information of students including their study majors and class timetables for them to be easily ‘hunted’ down.
Isn’t it ironic that the origins of Facebook, the global social networking website, began as ‘Facemash’ whereby students were given the choice to rate the ‘hotter’ female student. The site was shut down and Mark Zuckerberg faced expulsion and was charged with breach of security, violating copyrights, and violating individual privacy. The chargers were later dropped.
Fittingly in light of the recent and highly publicised Stanford rape case, the 2015 documentary The Hunting Ground raises the issue of sexual assault on United States college campuses. The documentary focuses on specific incidents of sexual assault on college campuses and the failure of school administrations to deal with it adequately.
Stanford University student and once hopeful Olympic swimmer, Brock Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault and sentence to six months in prison. But what really captivated onlookers was the unnamed victim’s response. The woman eloquently detailed her harrowing experience in a statement made directly to Turner in court.
When colleges fail to examine where assault happen, they expose themselves to litigation. More importantly, they miss critical opportunities to explore solutions to the widespread campus sexual assault problem.
Universities Australia’s new Respect. Now. Always. Campaign is designed to reduce sexual violence through raising awareness among university staff and students than sexual assault and harassment are unacceptable.
Also published on Medium.