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domenica 28 agosto 2016
Anti-Rape Protest 3
Students from the university's Women's Collective, survivors of campus sexual assault and their supporters. Photo: University of Sydney Women's Collective
Protesters have approached parents and prospective students at the University of Sydney Open Day, holding mattresses that read "welcome to the hunting grounds," in a demonstration highlighting sexual assault at the university.
Students from the university's Women's Collective, survivors of campus sexual assault and their supporters staged the protest on Saturday morning to bring attention "to the danger of sexual assault on campus."
"We are protesting outside the information session for prospective students and parents, to bring attention to the danger of sexual assault on campus. We will continue to shine light on this issue until the university meets the demands outlined in our open letter," the University of Sydney Women's Collective wrote on Facebook.
"University management have had decades to take action on this issue, but have continually delayed doing so. The university's silence on this issue condones a rape culture that allows for student fear, trauma and unrest to persist."
The letter addressed damning failures of student safety mechanisms and recommended a raft of policy changes to guarantee that instances of sexual harassment and assault are taken seriously by the university.
On Saturday, the 25 protesters marched through the university's Eastern Ave holding mattresses emblazoned with messages, such as "Red tape won't cover up rape," and "university silence perpetuates violence."
Parents who were attending the open day with their high school children were handed leaflets by protesters, citing statistics that 67 per cent of women students in Australia in 2015 have had an unwanted sexual experience, and that 41 per cent of students who reported their experience to the University of Sydney felt that the procedures "did not help at all."
Protesters also entered a university auditorium where an information session was taking place, to speak directly to parents and "answer questions about sexual violence." University staff reportedly responded by turning off the lights and asking parents to leave.
Student Representative Council Women's Officer Anna Hush said, despite the university's efforts, the protest was "very effective with parents."
"The parents were very supportive, calling out 'keep going,' 'we are listening.' I think it really hit home to them that this is where they are sending their children and this is a constant danger," she said.
"It was very visual, particularly as a reference to the 2014 protest at Columbia University where a survivor carried around her mattress for a year demanding the university take action."
Ms Hush add that students had had little communication from the university since they published the open letter.
The University of Sydney has published a response to the letter online, denying it has stalled on the issue of sexual assault on campus.
"The University will be participating in the 'Respect. Now. Always.' campaign by Universities Australia in partnership with the Human Rights Commission. The results of the survey will complement and extend upon the results of the University of Sydney survey undertaken on our campuses last year," the letter stated.
The letter said the university had also improved information available online for students, staff training and introduced a staff helpline that could assist with student reports assault.
"The University will continue to do whatever it can to reduce the experience of sexual assault on campus."
The University of Sydney's open day was also disrupted by 'Save SCA' campaigners wearing red capes, marching and lying down on the Camperdown campus' thoroughfares, demonstrating against planned job cuts at the Sydney College of the Arts.
The Dean's office on the SCA campus in Callan Park has been occupied by protesters since Monday.
A university spokesperson told Fairfax Media, "the University supports students' right to protest peacefully but its plans for changes to the SCA will remain unchanged."