Macquarie Uni Commits to Addressing Sexual Violence on Campus


Words || Sarah Basford

Macquarie University’s Equity and Diversity team have announced a new project aimed at targeting sexual violence on campus. The Respect.Now.Always@MQ (RNA@MQ) project will be launched this month and comes as a response to the 2015 film The Hunting Ground, a US documentary which focuses on the sexual violence that is prevalent throughout the US’s university campuses.

The two-year project promises to review procedures and develop consultative policies as well as distribute information online and generally raise awareness on campus. Staff and student leaders will be undertaking training on how to appropriately deal with situations that arise to ensure that harmful responses such as victim-blaming do not occur.

The Hunting Ground focuses on the stories of two students who had been sexually assaulted on campuses in the US. The documentary shows how their reports were tied up in complicated bureaucratic systems and it became apparent that university officials were more interested protecting the institution’s reputation rather than adequately dealing the crimes that had been committed.

Earlier this year, the National Union of Students released the results of their 2015 ‘Talk About It’ survey, which asked students from universities around Australia about their experiences of sexual violence. Alarmingly, 94 per cent of respondents selected that they had not reported their own sexual harassment or assault to the university. Of those who did report their mistreatment, only 28 per cent were satisfied with the way that the situation was dealt with.

It comes at a time where the University of Sydney’s Wesley College accommodation is being scrutinised for its alleged culture of misogyny. Last May, three sources revealed that the college had released RackWeb, a journal which details a web of ‘hook-ups’ and bestows awards like Biggest Porn Star and Biggest Cleavage.

Macquarie University will be hosting a screening of The Hunting Ground on Tuesday 16 August 2016 from 1pm to 4pm at The Campus Hub. The film we be followed by a panel discussion featuring the Vice-Chancellor and Macquarie academic Catherine Lumby. Head here for more details on the campaign and screening.

Please note that The Hunting Ground contains detailed accounts of sexual assault and suicide. If you do not want to view the film you’re welcome to attend the panel discussion only which begins at 2.30pm.