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Broderick report on Paul's released, student activists respond

Broderick report on Paul's released, student activists respond

Words by Noah Vaz

The much anticipated Cultural Review of St Paul’s College by Elizabeth Broderick & Co was released today, almost 10 months after the Cultural Renewal at the University of Sydney Residential Colleges report was presented and caused a debate about the problematic college culture at the University of Sydney.

Commencing with the overwhelmingly positive sentiment many St Paul’s students (or Paulines) feel about their time at college, the report proceeds to outline a culture rife with problematic leadership structures, a lack of diversity, alcohol abuse, hazing, and experiences of sexual assault and violence.

While the report’s quantitative evidence gives an important analytical frame to certain issues like student satisfaction, it is the qualitative interviews and quotes from submissions that reveal a culture that is split into two: those who are complacent and fear that the college will change too much should a cultural renewal occur, and those who acknowledge the problematic ethos behind the sandstone façades. These dichotomous attitudes are typified in the report’s first chapter, with two contrasting quotes:

I feel as if members of St Paul’s are being targeted and segmented by the media and the greater Sydney [University]. Furthermore, I feel that since I have joined, we have been on constant watch by the Broderick review. I have felt that there is an extremely unfair, unwarranted stigma placed upon all our heads and honestly, it is a form of harassment. [St Paul’s College student]

The media attention and this review has been beneficial because some behaviour is no longer tolerated. [St Paul’s College student]

In response to the report’s publication, a joint media release was issued by the SRC, Women’s Collective, and EROC Australia, stating that the report “doesn't go far enough in investigating the toxic culture at the college.”

“Trite ideations about consent programs mean nothing if they are internally managed without consultation from student representatives and advocacy groups who have been at the forefront of instigating change,” said co-women’s officer Jessica Syed.

Anna Hush, director of End Rape On Campus Australia and co-author of the Red Zone Report, has criticised the report, stating that similar to its predecessor, it merely “represents a lukewarm and whitewashed perspective on college culture.”

Nina Funnell, lead author of the Red Zone Report, while critical of the report’s composition, was relieved to see that St Paul’s College has apologised. “Institutions cannot change what they do not acknowledge. Healing cannot begin until there is genuine apology.”

She went on to criticise the lack of apology on the part of the other colleges since the publication of both the Broderick review last November and the Red Zone Report. “With the exceptions of Paul’s and Women’s it is disappointing that the other colleges have refused to apologise.”

More to come.

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