The University of Sydney has responded to the controversy surrounding the treatment of female students at its colleges in an email to alumni. Vice-chancellor Michael Spence acknowledged media reports, from ABC’s 7.30 and student press, that revealed practices at the prestigious Wesley College, described as “rampant sexism” by students. Spence wrote that the university was addressing the reports:

“Some of you may have read stories in the media recently about incidents of sexual harassment and assault with members of the University community. It is deeply concerning and saddening to hear of these accounts and I wanted to keep you informed of the University’s action to address these problems.”

It included damning statistics from a survey of students conducted last year, which found that almost 25% of students didn’t feel safe on campus:

Michael Spence email

Spence wrote that the university was acting on recommendations from the survey, including a complaints portal and making students “aware of their responsibilities as stipulated in the student Code of Conduct”.

“In addition the Chancellor and I have invited some of the independent colleges affiliated with the University to work with us and with former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick AO on how to respond to concerns that have been raised about their culture.”

Peter Fray

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