UNSW Baxter College students under fire after sexist video goes viral

April 13, 2016
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A snap protest was held at the University of New South Wales on Tuesday after a video emerged on social media purporting to show residents of Baxter College chanting derogatory and pro-rape slurs. In the video, residents of Baxter College can be heard chanting, “I wish that all the ladies were holes in the road, and if I was a dump truck, I’d fill them with my load.” This is another incident in a string of misogynistic incidents that have plagued Australian colleges for years.

Responding to this latest incident, the UNSW Women’s Collective has condemned the behaviour, calling on the college and university administrators to “undertake a full investigation and ensure appropriate action is taken against these individuals”.

Jocelyn Dracakis, the SRC Women’s Officer and organiser of the protest, told Hijacked that “this is by no means an isolated incident, and reflects a systematic and institutionalised sexism and oppression prevalent across colleges and universities throughout Australia and worldwide”.

Dracakis points to data published in a survey by the National Union of Students showing that nearly 73 per cent of women-identifying students had experienced some form of sexual harassment during their time at university.

The UNSW student who posted the video says that others have since come forward with allegations of sexism and misogynistic behaviour in UNSW colleges. The woman, who spoke to Hijacked on the condition that she remain anonymous, is familiar with the culture of UNSW colleges. She claims that during a sporting event last year, members of a UNSW college chanted that they would “rape” the girlfriends of the opposing team. In a separate incident, it has been alleged that residents from another college contacted the Roundhouse – a UNSW bar – requesting to hire “a really ugly stripper” for the boys to “have a laugh at” during an annual ‘boys night out’ held at the bar. Both claims were supported by Dracakis.

This is by no means an isolated incident, and reflects a systematic and institutionalised sexism and oppression prevalent across colleges and universities throughout Australia and worldwide.

Residents of UNSW colleges are required to submit all events for approval by various levels of staff at the college. UNSW students have described how “these event requests are often disguised as G-rated” in order to avoid scrutiny by the college. However, it remains unclear exactly how much detail college staff knew about similar events in the past.

Baxter College has since released a statement of apology for the actions of the group of young men featured in the video. The statement, reportedly signed by the residents on Wednesday, reads that sexist behaviour is “in no way an indication of the values that Phillip Baxter College adheres to”. But this statement would seem to be in direct contrast with the views expressed by the Baxter College leadership group.

On the ABC’s 7.30 Report last night, College president James Dunn admitted to being featured in the video posted to social media. He has claimed that, coming from a rural town, he was impressionable and “was taught these chants as part of the culture that we have here [at Baxter College]”. He told the ABC that he “regrets the fact that the video was filmed”, but that he doesn’t regret the fact that the issue was “brought up to our attention and now we get the chance to fix it and make a better culture within Baxter College”.

Anthony McGirr would not respond to questions from Hijacked, but told the ABC that he believed college staff were doing a good job and that “we see successes every year” with the initiatives run by the college. 

Overnight, the UNSW Women’s Collective has “applauded the letter of apology made by residents of Baxter College”, but added that “we will continue to ensure that the University sees through an appropriate investigation and any necessary punitive actions against students involved are taken”.

At the time of publication, James Dunn had not been stood down as the president of Baxter College. 

Ben Rice

Ben Rice is a law student who writes a lot of stuff that people don’t read at bennywrites.com. Or, you can find him on Twitter @benny_writes.

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