Sexual misbehaviour in Australian universities is extremely rare
Sexual misbehaviour at universities is a great fad worldwide at the moment. There are constant wails about it. And from the wails you would infer that universities are a hotbed of rape. But are they? Putting a lot of juicy young men and women together is sure to go astray in some instances but is rape in universities any more common than in the community at large? Among all the hyperventilating, I have yet to see any statistics on the question.
That rather aroused my suspicions. If rape really were particularly common in universities, would not all the agonizing ones be forcing the statistics on the matter down our indifferent throats? Instead there seems to be a complete statistical blackout.
So I decided to do a few back of the envelope calculations of my own. The total university rapes reported across Australia is given below as 126 in five years. And I estimate the number of students as being about 1 million. That gives a rate per 100,000 of 12.6. Compare that with the latest nationwide figure of 28.6 per 100,000 PER ANNUM. Clearly, by general community standards, rape is exceptionally RARE in Australian universities. Clever young people behave cleverly, which is what I thought. I spent nearly 20 years in Australian universities without hearing ANYTHING about campus rape
No doubt much scorn will be heaped on my calculations but surely the challenge is to do better. I would think that no statistical jiggery pokery would close up by much the vast gap I have found
Three young women have shared the harrowing stories of how they were allegedly raped at Australian universities - two when they were just 18.
They are some of 575 students who were sexually assaulted on campus in the past five years, with only six alleged perpetrators expelled.
Dr Rosyln Arnold, a former council member of Sydney University’s St John's residential college who quit her position in disgust in 2012, said it was the product of entrenched rape culture in young men.
'It's endorsing a pattern that women deserve to be victims, that it is acceptable to denigrate and humiliate them and to act violently towards them,' she told Sunday Night.
She said this was made worse by an environment where women were 'objectified and crudely ranked on social media'.
However, one student who had dozens of men make sexualised comments on her Facebook photos said she enjoyed the attention.
'For me, that was really flattering and actually quite funny too. My friends also found it very funny so we just had a bit of a laugh,' Melbourne University student Sydney Watson said.
Sunday Night reporter PJ Madam then read Ms Watson a series of very insulting comments directed at her - including that she 'is a b**** and has bad breath'.
'Look, I won't lie, that some of those thing are really inappropriate but to me that's the nature of the online world. I think it's all in the name of fun,' she responded.
'Whilst they might not be completely right, I don't think that it's in a serious fashion, by any stretch of the imagination.'
Dr Arnold said attitudes like Ms Watson's were 'letting down the side by saying that it's OK. We don't think it's OK.'
Another student, Emma Hunt, was excited to attend Monash University in Melbourne, but her first experience of university life on orientation camp went horribly wrong when she got blackout drunk at a costume party. 'I remember waking up in a cabin with a stranger. And I don't know how I got there, didn't know who he was,' she said.
Her first memory was a lot of people getting her out of the room. She didn't remember how long she was there for, but she was being raped when she woke up.
Ms Hunt only told a friend months later because she didn't know where to go for help. Her alleged rape is now being investigated by police, but she is still scarred by the ordeal
'I wake up fearing i'll run into him every day at uni. It's quite scary, I feel like I have to be hyper-vigilant in case I recognise him,' she said.
'I never really know when the next day is that I'm going to run into him. Last time I was absolutely terrified. I only saw him for a split second, the most unsafe I've ever felt.'
On the other side of the country, former University of WA science student Jannika Jacky said she was raped on her 18th birthday three years ago by a friend from her dorm.
'We met at college, and we became friends quite quickly. He seemed like a perfectly good you know, charming, funny sort of person,' she said.
After pre-drinks at college and then a bar to celebrate, she was feeling drunk and wanted to go home but couldn't find friends who had her room key, so asked him to get her home. 'It was freezing outside and I was just like, "It's really cold, can I just chill in your room for a little bit?"' she said.
'And he was like, "sure, no worries, what are friends for".'
As soon as they were in his room he turned the light off and began kissing her, before raping her despite her protesting. 'I remember quite clearly saying "no. I don't want to do this. because we're just friends". But he just didn't stop,' she said.
'When I got back to my room I just remember taking the longest shower I have probably ever taken.'
Ms Jacky eventually had to drop out of university. Her alleged rapist was kicked out of campus housing but otherwise not punished. He graduated last month.
'The stress was unbearable, depression just went through the roof and so did my anxiety as well. Um, I also have a lot of trouble with having relationships,' she said.
Olivia Todhunter, at the University of Melbourne, alleged she was on exchange overseas when she was raped by a fellow Australian student. 'I remember saying "stop". I remember saying "get off". I remember saying "you have a girlfriend". I remember saying that I didn't want this,' she said.
'When I went to uni counselling they said that my issue wasn't urgent enough to be available for emergency counselling.'
It took Australia's biggest ever freedom of information request to lift the lid on the scale of sexual assault in Australian universities, forcing 27 universities to hand over records of complaints.
There were 575 cases of sexual assault, harassment and indecent behaviour reported over five years, including 145 rapes.
Only six alleged perpetrators were expelled, 14 were suspended, 11 given warnings, 12 reprimanded, and six 'voluntarily separated'.
Those who were punished by universities were in some cases made to pay a $55 fine, write an apology letter, or do just eight hours of community service.
In the vast majority of cases no action was taken by universities and, against their own policies, allegations were often not reported to police.
The complaints uncovered included a male student breaking into campus dorm rooms and raping women in their beds, and another given a master key to all rooms after he was accused of multiple assaults.
Staff members exchanged sexual favours for free accommodation, and others secretly filmed women using showers and toilets.
Male students grabbed women’s breasts, forcefully kissed them, spat at them, and yelled insults like 'slut, slut, slut', 'I bet you like c**k', 'bitch' and 'scum-c*nt'.
Victims were also advised that any discussion of their sexual assaults or abuse with others 'could be considered a disciplinary matter' due to 'confidentiality’' concerns.