'Just lock your door when you're asleep': Female uni students pressured to perform sexual acts

Female university students were pressured into giving lap dances, sharing intimate details of their sexual experiences, and being "slapped on the ass by everybody" as they ran past a group of men before entering a party as part of college hazing at the University of New England.

The hazing was documented in a report on the Armidale university's residential colleges by the Human Rights Commission.

The university asked the commission to conduct the report in the wake of its damning 2017 report on sexual assault and harassment across Australian universities, which found the University of New England had the highest rate of sexual assault of any university in the country.

Some students told the commission they encountered men at the colleges who either did not understand or did not respect sexual consent.


One woman said she was sleeping in her own bed when a male student entered her room, laid on top of her and started kissing her. The woman demanded he leave and reported the incident to a senior student, who worked for the college, only to be told she "probably should just lock your door when you’re asleep".

And social events documented by the commission included a "GI Joes and Army Hoes" party with promotional material that instructed attendees to "dress up like the title says".

Sexualised themes, the commission said, reinforced attitudes of objectification and sexual entitlement which contributed to incidences of assault and harassment.



The commission made 25 recommendations to the university to address the colleges' problems, ranging from increased consent training, to more security cameras, to university audits of the colleges' responses to reports of sexual misconduct, all of which it has agreed to implement.


Nina Funnell, director of the advocacy group End Rape on Campus, said the issues were not confined to the University of New England.

"We see these… problems replicated across the country and bigger questions need to be asked about colleges as institutions and the toxic environments which go along with them," Ms Funnell said.

Other colleges, including the sandstone colleges at the University of Sydney, have previously grappled with hazing crises.

University of New England vice-chancellor Professor Annabelle Duncan said the university acknowledged it had a role to play in educating its students about respect and consent and thanked students who spoke to the commission.

"It is important to note that of the 25 recommendations that relate to UNE's colleges, work is completed or underway to meet 17 of the recommendations," Professor Duncan said.

An additional three recommendations related to the Catholic Church-owned St Albert's College, which is located at the University of New England but run independently. It was singled out in End Rape on Campus' 2018 Red Zone report on sexual assault and harassment.

St Albert's has agreed to implement those recommendations.

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