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Sydney Uni facing claims of misogyny and rape -

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Sydney Uni facing claims of misogyny and rape

Emily Bourke reported this story on Monday, November 9, 2009 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: Back home now to the turmoil over a pro-rape webpage linked to one of Australia's
most prestigious universities. Enraged female students are accusing Sydney University authorities
of failing to take rape allegations against male students seriously.

One of university's oldest colleges is on the defensive over reports that Sydney University
students who are past and present residents at the all-male St Paul's College, set up an
"anti-consent" website on Facebook.

The revelations have provoked a furious response, as Emily Bourke reports.

EMILY BOURKE: St Paul's College at Sydney University is home to around 200 men and it purports to
offer the opportunity for students to enjoy the complete university experience.

But students setting up a pro-rape webpage was probably not what the college or the university had
in mind. The Facebook forum described itself as "anti-consent". It has been taken down but that's
not stopped the outrage.

The New South Wales Minister for Women is Linda Burney.

LINDA BURNEY: I am sure that the families are horrified that their sons would have these sorts of
attitudes and be involved in this sort of action. Putting a page on Facebook encouraging rape is
absolutely unacceptable and it does say to us that we have an awful long way to go.

NOAH WHITE: Quite frankly I'm disgusted that something like this could happen at Sydney University
and particularly at one of the colleges that claims that it's training the leaders of tomorrow.

EMILY BOURKE: Noah White is the president of Sydney University's Student Representative Council. He
points to a culture that demeans women and promotes sexual violence.

NOAH WHITE: I guess it is partly to do with the fact that the colleges are very traditional
institutions that have been around for a long, long time. Old habits die hard really but I do think
that the university and the colleges need to recognise that this is happening. They need to look at
what processes they can implement to ensure that this doesn't happen again.

EMILY BOURKE: St Paul's College is distancing itself from the webpage. Reverend Dr Ivan Head is
warden of the college and spoke to Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast this morning.

IVAN HEAD: This is not a college site. That men stand or fall and indeed women stand or fall by
statements that they make that enter the public domain and that is basically the most effective
preliminary response we can make.

EMILY BOURKE: Will there be disciplinary action?

IAN HEAD: There has been no disciplinary action directed as yet against any particular student.

EMILY BOURKE: But the problem goes beyond the webpage according to Rebecca Santos - the sexual
harassment officer for the SRC.

REBECCA SANTOS: There has been chalking around campus for college parties that I've seen. They
follow that sort of Mastercard-like tickets 70 bucks, you know, alcohol this much, a fresher, which
is a first year, first year virgin, priceless.

EMILY BOURKE: Rebecca Santos is also a resident of a campus college. She describes a culture of
ingrained misogyny and an acceptance of rape.

REBECCA SANTOS: These are young men educated at the best schools in Sydney coming to Sydney
University at the most elite colleges who can configure their intent in terms, in legal terms like
consent versus not consent. These are sophisticated ways of talking about sexual activity that I am
hesitant to say it is just a sort of go with flow mentality.

I think it is, and the fact that it is graffiti and it is advertising and it is so much of the
college humour that I think rape is a delicate issue and I have known friends at colleges who have
been raped and it is not this thing that we need to take a softly, softly approach to anymore
because evidence suggests and the fact that this has come out, you know, right now is evidence
enough that it has not worked, this kind of like, we just need to return to rules and regulations
and give them a jolly good talking to at the beginning of the year.

EMILY BOURKE: The University of Sydney has issued a statement on behalf of Vice Chancellor Michael
Spence.

EXTRACT FROM STATEMENT FROM MICHAEL SPENCE: I am appalled by the reported behaviour and apparent
attitudes of some students. There can be no excuses for sexual assault. Binge drinking is at odds
with our commitment to rational behaviour.

The university and the residential colleges have been working hard to bring about a change in
attitudes and behaviour. Obviously we still have much to do.

EMILY BOURKE: The university and its colleges are now under pressure to be proactive.

Vanessa Swan is from the Yarrow Place rape and sexual assault service.

VANESSA SWAN: I think the university have done some work on this but this is not something you kind
of do it and it is done and everything is fine. We are still up against it. There is still a lot of
inequity. We know that through pay rates that women receive compared to men. We know that because
sexual assault is still prevalent.

So you know, it is not like we have finished and everything, you know, perfectly fine and we can
all relax now. We can't relax. We need to still be vigilant. We still need to be proactive and yes,
the university has done some things and it needs to do more.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Vanessa Swan from the Yarrow Place rape and sexual assault service ending
that report by Emily Bourke.