#REDZONE Reaches Students at OWeek With Protest Against Sexual Assault
WORDS BY BIANKA FARMAKIS
“Time and time again, for nearly a century, all of these cries from students have been put at the bottom of the agenda”
- Imogen Grant, President of SRC
Students congregated in front of the University of Sydney’s quadrangle clock tower the first day of O Week to protest campus sexual assault, following on from the release of End Rape on Campus Australia’s (EROC) The Red Zone.
Hosted by the Wom*n’s Collective, the protest aimed to stand up for survivors of sexual assault and address issues of institutionalised cover-ups and endemic misogyny in the college structure.
Joined by authors of the report, award-winning Walkley journalist Nina Funnell and EROC ambassador Anna Hush, the protest led students seeking justice for survivors of sexual assault in chants and cries for action that continued to Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence’s office.
“Silence is Violence” chanted crowds of over 200 students joining the protest.
Nina Funnell, lead author of the report, had a succinct and clear message:
“My message is to you [the survivors]: I believe you. I’m so sorry for what has happened to you.”
“You are not to blame, and above all you are not alone.” Funnell said.
Anna Hush, co-author of the Red Zone Report, addressed the perceived shortcomings from Elizabeth Broderick’s “Broderick Review 2017”.
She criticised the former sex and discrimination officer’s work as “nothing more than PR for the colleges”, which neglected to feature voices of victims in previous case studies, and insight into the grotesque hazing rituals the Red Zone illuminates.
Addressing the colleges directly, Hush commented on the deeply systemic “culture of sexual violence” articulating, “it’s literally in their walls. It’s like asbestos.”
Hush cited historical instances of sexual misconduct and abuse at colleges, referencing Wesley’s “Rackweb”, a journal dedicated to ranking women on their sexual appeal, and calling women “sluts” and “bitches”.
President of the SRC, Imogen Grant, referenced statistics collated form the report: “1 in 8 attempted or successful sexual assaults will happen this very week.”
“It’s happening on these bastions of privilege on campus,” she concluded.
The Red Zone, released on Monday, comprises a 200-page report detailing accounts of sexual harassment, assault, hazing and abuse conducted at residential colleges across Australia.
68 college students are raped weekly across Australia, according to the report, with college students 7 times more like to be raped than non-college students.
The protest kicked off O-Week as a major statement against the sexual misconduct and hazing practices associated with residential colleges traditions during the week.
KNOWING THE RED ZONE
Created in response to the perceived issues with the University of Sydney’s 2017 Broderick review, the Red Zone Report was prepared without external funding to address perceived issues with 2017’s Broderick Review into USYD colleges.
The report emphasised the omission of past victim’s voices from case studies and questions research methods that lumped respondents in focus group scenarios rather than in the privacy of solo interviews led to an inaccurate report.
Countering the recommendations in the Broderick Review, which largely centre around internal fixes to the college system, the report advocates for State and Federal Governments to take an active role in pressuring colleges to change their operation.
Traditionally resistant to external pressure, the colleges are yet to comment on whether the recommendations will be accepted.
The Red Zone Report dedicates sections to backgrounding sexual misconduct in colleges, citing previous media examples and survivor testimonies, as well as neglected past case studies from former college student survivors of sexual harassment and assault.
In addition, a discussion of misogynistic behaviours, sexist mentalities, homophobia and elitism are explore in an analysis of college culture in an effort to take “an intersectional approach at looking at college culture.”
A full copy of the Red Zone report is available to read here.