Disturbing footage has emerged on social media of hazing rituals performed by students of University of Newcastle colleges, in which male freshmen can be seen drinking alcohol from other students’ genitals.
The vision, sourced by End Rape on Campus Australia and published by news.com.au, is part of the group’s ongoing investigation into the culture at residential university campuses.
According to Nina Funnell, EROC Australia ambassador and author of the article, the behaviour captured in the footage was carried out by University of Newcastle students from Evatt’s House college during so-called Lad’s Weekends.
This annual event sees new male students forced into often-humiliating initiation rituals. One clip, for example, shows a student being led around on all fours, a leash tied to his neck; in another, heavily intoxicated students are made to drink their own vomit; and in perhaps the most unsettling segment, older students stretch out the skin of their pubic region, creating a pouch from which kneeling freshmen are forced to drink alcohol.
Speaking to Triple J’s Hack program, University of Newcastle Vice Chancellor, Professor Carolyn McMillan, firmly condemned the behaviour captured in the video.
“It’s the vestiges of a dying and completely unacceptable culture,” McMillan said. “These traditions belong to a previous era. They are not part of contemporary university or contemporary society.”
A spokesperson for University of Newcastle told Fairfax Media the university was “appalled” by the footage, and took all allegations of student misconduct seriously.
“Four years ago, the university took over additional management responsibilities of the residential colleges. Since that time, we have worked consistently to develop and implement targeted programs aimed at educating students and their support staff on the appropriate behaviours and our expectations of conduct in our community.
“As well as the education and preventative measures, students found to have behaved in this way are subject to severe penalties.”
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The videos, which have since been removed from EROC Australia’s Facebook page for breaching the social media platform’s “community standards”, are a visual expression of the damning research released by the Australian Human Rights Commission in August last year.
The report, which heard from more than 30,000 students, painted a picture of the frequency, nature and responses to student sexual assault and harassment at Australia’s 39 universities.
The report found that college hazing rituals were prevalent, and typically involved excessive alcohol consumption, humiliating and degrading acts, and in many cases the sexual assault and harassment of female residents.
One college, for example, had a “feral women’s night” where first-year residents were force-fed alcohol, told to remove their tops and serve drinks to older male residents, all while being subjected to derogatory comments and chants, the report said.
If you have suffered sexual assault, help is available 24 hours a day via 1800 RESPECT. That’s 1800 737 732.