WHILE one of the country’s most prestigious residential colleges, St Paul’s, at the University of Sydney has been called out for its culture of “deep contempt for women” our regional universities are paving the way forward with programs encouraging equality and respect.
Last week, St Paul’s College, hit the national headlines, after post was put on Facebook comparing women to “harpooned whales”, before its author signed off with “happy slaying”. Almost 100 people liked the post.
David Griffin, Director of Residential Life at Charles Sturt University, said none the residences at any of the university’s campuses had never experienced anything like what happened at St Paul’s.
Mr Griffin said the structure of accommodation at Charles Sturt University campuses was very different to those at Sydney University.
“We don’t have single gender or denominational boarding facilities; the university deliberately aims at a much broader blend of residents to include a wide mixture of gender, age and (academic) courses.
“What we’ve found by doing this is the students get a far better experience.
“Mixing up genders, ages and different levels of study, it becomes a self regulating community.”
Mr Griffin said behavioral expectations are taught by more senior students, specifically chosen to work in campus accommodation for their leadership qualities.
“They are residential advisers who live on campus and set the standards and moderate behaviors, they are specially selected through a competitive appointment process where they are assessed on their integrity, capacity as leaders and their ability to support their peers.”
Mr Griffin said the university also run proactive programs encouraging respect among students when living on campus.
Having said that Mr Griffin said the absolute expectation for all students is a zero tolerance for any type or initiation, hating, bullying or sexist behaviour.
Any student who breaches this policy faces expulsion from the university.
Mr Griffin said the uni also runs a program called ‘Respect, Now, Always’ and the vice chancellor is right behind it.
It’s a sector-wide campaign to prevent sexual assault and harassment involving universities across Australia with the aim of building values of safety and respect in our communities.
Mr Griffin said the uni also has a strict social media policy, which is enforced.