If you are in need of support, the University of Auckland has a number of services available which you can find more information about on their website. Helplines are available at the end of the article.
Last week, it came to light that a former University of Auckland staff member had perpetrated sexual misconduct towards his students for over two decades. The incident has highlighted potential weaknesses in the ways that educational institutions handle harassment, and prompted a discussion on how these instances should be dealt with. This week, three students talked to Craccum about their experiences dealing with bullying, harrassment and discrimination while at university.
Janine*, 21, Arts
“I live in University accommodation. When I first moved in, one of the things I was happy about was that there are clear policies in place — for example, zero tolerance for bullying, harrassment and discrimination. I thought this was a good thing because this wouldn’t be the case in a normal flat.”
“When I did experience a bullying incident that I believed was racially motivated, I reported this to accomodation management and was assured it would be dealt with seriously. After a week, I was told the perpetrators have been warned that the University has a zero tolerance policy for bullying. It left me thinking, what the fuck is the point of a zero tolerance policy if you just get let off with a warning when you do violate that policy? It isn’t truly zero tolerance.”
Amy*, 24, Science
“In my second year of undergraduate [study] I was sexually harassed by another classmate who made inappropriate comments about me in front of my whole tutorial group. I didn’t really know what to do or what the [University’s] rules were so I told my lecturer what happened. He told our class there’s no place for that in our class at the start of the next lecture. I stopped going to tutorials because I was embarrassed about what had happened. Looking back, I wish I had taken it further.”
“I think my experience shows that students aren’t aware of the University’s policy. I don’t think there’s anything actually wrong with it, I just think we have no idea about it or what to do if we get into trouble.”
“I also believe punishments for people who make others feel unsafe need to be harsher, otherwise victims just have to relive their whole experience for nothing.”
James*, 21, Arts
“I have never personally been bullied or harassed but I know of people who have, and haven’t made a complaint because they don’t really know the process or think it would be too much of a hassle to go through it. I don’t even know who to talk to if I was bullied in class or by a lecturer, which I think shows a bigger problem around lack of awareness.”
The University’s policies and procedures, as well as the University of Auckland’s Code of Conduct, are available for all students and staff to read online.
1737 – Call or text 1737 at any time for immediate crisis support from a trained counsellor, or to receive a referral to the appropriate service.
Safe to Talk – Call 0800 044 334 to access the national sexual harm helpline, available 24/7.