Otago University student magazine Critic Te Arohi is accusing Knox College – one of Otago Uni’s most historied student halls – of covering up instances of sexual assault and rape.
In an article published last week, Critic magazine alleged that, throughout 2015 and 2017, the college’s management team wilfully turned a blind eye to reports of sexual assault and rape. The accusation is based on interviews with a number of former residents. Critic alleges several instances of sexual assault:
One resident says she was subjected to persistent sexual harassment from another resident throughout 2016 – the resident would often wait outside her dorm room and attempt to kiss or fondle her when she left it. The resident says her and her boyfriend asked the offender several times to stop, and that the offender and his friend threatened the pair with beatings multiple times. When the resident reported the incidents to the halls management team, she was told to stop “leading him on”. The management team declined to investigate the claim further, the offender was allowed to go unpunished, and the resident was forced to continue living with the harasser.
Another resident reports having a similar experience in the hall. Again, this resident alleges she was sexually harassed throughout the year by a fellow resident. In a report lodged with the halls’ management team, the offender was described as “a serial sexual harasser”. Despite this, management declined to pursue the investigation any further. Once again, the offender was allowed to continue living in the halls unpunished.
Finally, one resident says she was sexually assaulted and raped twice during her 2015-2016 tenure in the halls. The first incident occurred shortly after arriving in the halls. The offender let himself into the resident’s room at night, and attempted to have sex with the her. He gave up after the resident told him she was on her period. The resident says she thought about reporting the incident but was dissuaded by other residents, who told her she needed to “get over it”. A similar incident occurred about a year later, when, after a Knox event was held, the offender let himself into her room again. The resident says she told him to stop, but this time sexual intercourse occurred. Again, she refrained from reporting the incident – her fellow residents, who termed the incident a “sexual misadventure”, told her the offender was a “good guy”. If anything had occurred, they told her, it was her fault for failing to lock the door.
Critic Te Arohi says several copies of the magazine have been destroyed, vandalised or removed from campus since the article was published. The magazine says they have been flooded with similar accusations since airing the piece, and plan to investigate them further.