After Aria Kirwan complained about the allegedly degrading and sexually explicit hazing rituals she endured, she said her concerns were downplayed as ‘homesickness’ by the head of Adelaide University’s St Mark’s College.
Speaking to Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, 18-year-old Kirwan said she left the university last week after she was the victim of extreme initiation rituals during Orientation Week. She alleges the university staff did nothing to address her complaints, putting her discomfort down to homesickness.
Watch Aria Kirwan speak on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes.
Kirwan claimed she was told to massage senior male students, force-fed food that had been spat on, made to watch porn and participate in sexually explicit behaviour.
She explained the backlash for refusing was often worse than the tasks themselves. “One boy walks around the school with a dead fish hanging around his neck because he chose to opt out,” she told 60 Minutes.
Her story comes after a 200-page report called The Red Zone, produced by the group End Rape on Campus, was released last Monday detailing the torturous rituals taking place in Australian residential colleges.
“They call it tradition. But tradition isn’t torture,” Sharna Bremner from End Rape on Campus told Channel Nine.
“Tradition isn’t a kid that’s too scared to leave their room. They are broken. Some of them are completely broken.”
Expert in campus consent Vanessa Grigoriadis explains the importance of ‘mattress girl’. Post continues below.
Appearing alongside Kirwan on 60 Minutes was Kendra Murphy, a former student at St Andrew’s College of Sydney University.
Murphy alleges she was raped at the college in 2014. She was 19 at the time and learnt of her rape from a third-year student who messaged her the morning after a night of drinking.
“She said I was the one who put you to bed last night, and I don’t think you could have consented,” Murphy told 60 Minutes. “Apparently I kept saying ‘don’t’ and ‘I just want my pillow’.”
She blames her assault, in part, on the college’s extreme drinking culture and said the university did nothing to investigate.
Kendra Murphy was 19 when she was raped at St Andrew’s College, Sydney University in 2014. She blames the college – and the extreme drinking culture it encourages – for what happened that terrible night. #60Mins pic.twitter.com/1ykeANcub8
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) March 4, 2018
A spokesperson for St Andrew’s College said the institution had “no authority to report a crime to the police on someone else’s behalf”.
“Kendra expressed that she did not want to go to the police and we respected her decision,” they said. “The investigation and care we provided for Kendra in 2014 was in line with best practice.”
At the time The Red Zone was released, Australia also heard from the parents of Stuart Kelly who took his life in July 2016. Ralph and Kathy Kelly are begging for an end to hazing and drunken rituals, as they believe the initiation process drove Stuart into deep depression.
“I believe that he was assaulted, possibly sexually – this was something Stuart would never have recovered from,” Kathy said, Fairfax Media reports.
He was a student at the University of Sydney and now Ralph and Kathy have filed statements with NSW Police, alleging Stuart was the victim of extreme bullying at the university’s St Paul’s College.
“They held him down and forced alcohol down his throat”, they said, in what Kathy calls “a horrific drunken initiation”.
Four years before Stuart’s death, the Kellys’ oldest son, Thomas died at age 18 after a random stranger targeted him in a vicious, one-punch attack.
Following Thomas’ death, Ralph and Kathy successfully campaigned the NSW government for stricter lock out laws, which they believe made Stuart a target for bullies.
Ralph and Kathy are calling for a coronial inquest into Stuart’s death and the events that occurred at St Paul’s College while he was there.
Like Kirwan, they allege the university failed in protecting and responding to the concerns of students. They also allege the college did not properly investigate the circumstances surrounding Stuart’s suicide in 2016.
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