Widespread sexual assaults, harassment and brutal hazing rituals have been laid bare in a new report delving into elite university campuses in Australia.
The Red Zone study, published by End Rape on Campus, revealed an alcohol-fuelled culture of bullying, sexual aggressiveness and public humiliation.
Published on Monday (February 26), the 200-page document is named Red Zone in reference to how sexual assault researchers describe Orientation Week – or O-week – at universities.
O-week encourages new students to meet their fellow university-goers through various social events, but sexual and physical assault claims often spike during this seven-day period.
According to the Red Zone report, one in eight attempted or completed sexual assaults at the University of Sydney’s residential colleges occur in O-week.
One incident highlighted in the report involved male students masturbating into female students’ shampoo and conditioner bottles left in bathrooms.
Male freshers from the University of Newcastle’s Evatt House were heckled into participating in a bizarre drinking ritual. The game involved placing their mouths at the base of another student’s penis and drinking alcohol poured along their peer’s genitals.
St John’s College had an initiation ritual called Green Goblin, where male residents were stripped naked, painted green and told to break into women’s bedrooms. One woman was allegedly taken to hospital when the door struck her.
Older students also commonly ranked younger women’s attractiveness and plied them with alcohol in order to have sex with them. St Paul’s College had a space nicknamed the ‘Bone Room’, which was covered in mattresses for booze- and drug-fuelled sex parties.
“We’ve been able to chart almost a century of abuse, hazing and vile conduct at these institutions,” said Red Zone co-author Nina Funnell.
Many of the institutions shamed in the report have since released statements, including the University of Sydney, which said it’s currently co-operating with former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick on reforms.
“The university will continue to work with student and advocacy groups to do all it can to make its campuses safe and welcoming for all students,” said Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence.
Nevertheless, 21 per cent of students across the country claimed they had experienced sexual harassment in a university setting in 2016, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Compensation may be available to survivors of sexual misconduct in an institutional environment. Please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers if you would like to learn more.