Following recent reports of sexual violence in Halls of Residence, the University of Auckland has faced criticism for allowing perpetrators to continue their studies. Students have shown their support for survivors and are calling for the University to do more to protect its students. Craccum asked students on campus about whether they think UoA has a culture of complacency regarding consent and their experience of studying here with ongoing harassment and assault.
“Harassment definitely happens in halls quite often, but nothing to this extent. It’s not just physical. In halls, girls might feel uncomfortable in communal spaces because of boys’ behaviour, but we don’t want to step forward and make a big deal out of it, so we just turn to our friends and hope it goes away. There should be more discussions about consent in halls. They do address it when harassment comes up in halls, but it stops at the halls. It seems like the University doesn’t care enough about it.”
“It was shocking and really disappointing to see how the situation was handled and that it had to be made public before the University took any notice. As a female student who lives in halls it’s sad to see that they take other matters like academic conduct more seriously than something as serious as this.”
“Students are very vulnerable in halls. That’s where you live, and it’s your home while you’re studying. You should expect to be safe, and it’s upsetting for something like this to happen and go unpunished. There was some punishment, but I don’t think it was enough.”
“I used to be a Resident Advisor, and consent is definitely something we are trained on and communicate with our floors and have meetings about. We make that message really clear. But in halls, there’s a lot of freedom, and when you’re drunk, and in your first year, people can behave in a way that makes others uncomfortable. There are often videos taken without consent. There’s a culture of boys wanting to be boys, where they think it’s funny to share stories about girls they have hooked up with or to get with as many girls as possible. The halls protect these groups of guys and allow them to think their views on women are acceptable, but it’s not.”
“The uni has really dropped the ball on a lot of things. They need to show that they care more about their students. They need to hold themselves accountable and not try to deny that they didn’t release an apology because it was in the media. The University has done so much shit in the past that it is no longer shocking. But in this case, it is really disappointing that they allowed this person to remain in the halls and go unpunished.”
“It’s really shocking that this is something still present in the University. How the University handled it by just brushing it to the side and allowing that individual to stay on campus really upset myself and a few of my mates who are a part of female empowerment clubs at the University. It’s really shitty to know that you’re going to a University that still has sexual assault and the way it’s been treated is awful.”
“The student-led clubs, initiatives, and programmes against sexual harassment are amazing. They advocate for all the right things. The University needs to own up and listen to students and student organisations about what works best. Student consultation is really important, and I feel like the University hasn’t done its job.”
“In my personal experience, there has been a culture of consent with the people I’ve been around on campus. But I’ve heard of other situations where consent has been a bit blurry. I’m sure it’s (sexual harrasment) something that happens often, but nobody really talks about it. This is the first time I’ve heard of it happening on campus, which is crazy because I’ve been here for almost three years.”
“I was shocked by the reaction from the University. You wouldn’t think they would just brush it under the carpet and ignore it. It’s interesting to see their response to sexual assault compared to other things like cheating which they take very seriously.”
Vivian, Thursdays in Black Director
“Everyone has the right to feel safe on campus—but right now, the way in which the University responds to sexual violence means that this isn’t a reality. The two cases which have recently come to light in the media are living proof of this. In a world where sexual violence is already severely underreported, we find their failure to protect the safety of our community perverse and distressing.”
*Names were changed to protect student’s identity.