Break the Silence: Keep College Students Safe

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The Adelaide University Student Representative Council has today launched a campaign aimed at fostering a safer environment for students at South Australian Residential Colleges. The campaign, named “Break the Silence: Keep College Students Safe” is a direct response to the allegations of hazing and sexual misconduct at St Mark’s College as reported by 60 Minutes.

A spotlight has been shone into shocking instances of hazing, ritualistic humiliation and sexual misconduct taking place in residential colleges in South Australia. What we’ve seen in this report is clearly indicative of rape culture, not just at St Mark’s but at colleges in general. The onus is firmly on St Mark’s College and the University of Adelaide to take serious action to stamp out this vile behaviour. In response to these allegations,

The Adelaide University Student Representative Council has outlined several demands:

1) Dissolve the St Mark’s College Board of Directors
 We are shocked by the absolute ineptitude of the St Mark’s College Board and their complete lack of oversight of what is happening in their College. Either they are completely unaware of the problematic culture that has manifested in their College or they believe it is all part of the experience living there. Both possibilities are equally terrifying. As such, we strongly believe a complete overhaul of the College Board is required.

2) South Australian Colleges to take appropriate steps to ban all hazing activities. We are not satisfied there has been enough action in stamping out hazing at residential colleges. Every student should feel comfortable where they live. There is no exception to this.

3) The University of Adelaide to work with South Australian Colleges to improve their policies and procedures so they are survivor-centric with clear disciplinary procedures for offenders.
The SRC believes a cooperative approach between the University and the Colleges’ is necessary. It is imperative the University takes active steps to encourage the Colleges to change their culture and ensure their student’s wellbeing. Particularly, ensuring updating all policies and procedures concerning sexual misconduct to be survivor-centric and outline clear punishments for offenders.

4) The University of Adelaide to Completely Overhaul their Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Procedures.
The University’s current reporting process is needlessly complicated, using a triple committee sequential structure. This process is run by people without relevant training and is built for Academic dishonesty. It is re-traumatizing and encourages students to ‘mediate’ with their abusers. This is offensive, cruel, and needs to change.

 5) The University of Adelaide to introduce mandatory face-to-face sexual consent and healthy relationships training for all students to open up a dialogue around consent, rape culture and sexual harassment.
The key to stopping the scourge of sexual misconduct in South Australian Residential Colleges and Universities is a larger emphasis placed on educating students on consent. All students, regardless of background, should have a firm understanding what constitutes consent. It is purely the responsibility of the University to open up this dialogue.

We want the victims of this problematic culture to know we are standing with you and we will fight for change.

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