Content Warning: This article discusses allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment, and assault.
Earlier this week, the Facebook page QUT Love Letters (no affiliation with QUT) published a series of anonymous allegations that raised concerns amongst students about their safety on campus, particularly in the QUT Student Guild’s Botanic Bar.
Glass will not be publishing the details of the allegations made on QUT Love Letters or QUT Stalkerspace 2.0. Glass encourages anyone affected by the allegations, directly or indirectly, to make use of the resources available at the end of this article.
In the wake of the QUT Love Letters fallout, overwhelming student response and multiple sexual assault disclosures in the comments and posts, the Guild issued a statement on their social media accounts addressing student concerns. The posts included information about how to report sexual assault and harassment, and how affected students can seek support.
Several posts and comments on QUTLL specifically noted the difficulties encountered by victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, who say they have tried to navigate QUT’s official channels:
‘[As a victim of sexual assault] I think it’s worth noting that the uni has a very poor support system and the police won’t do anything without “sufficient” evidence which is hard to get,’ one submitter wrote.
‘Considering that some people are saying that stuff is from a year ago…maybe think about how hard it can be to speak about trauma and to go against however many others that will not accept your story.’
‘[Love Letters] probably wasn’t the right place to do it, but I understand why people want to warn others if they have the chance.’
This comes after the National Student Safety Survey (NSSS) results, released in March this year, showed QUT to be among the nation’s worst universities for sexual harassment. In response to the release of the report, QUT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education Professor Robina Xavier said the University was working hard to make practical changes, which included improving accessibility of online and phone resources to support people making complaints. One area which the University noted strongly warranted further attention was improving student knowledge of where to make a complaint, or seek assistance for sexual harassment or sexual assault.
QUT also referred to the NSSS results when responding to the events of this week, stating that since the release of the survey results, ‘…significant and collaborative efforts with the QUT Student Guild have been made to strengthen and focus activities aimed at improving students’ knowledge of how to make a disclosure or complaint, and where to seek assistance and support.’ Read QUT’s full statement, which also included resources for students, at the end of this article.
Speaking to Glass, QUT Student Guild President Oscar Davison also noted the Guild’s work with the University to address these issues, but conceded that ‘it is clear that more work is necessary’ in this area. According to the Guild, new plans to address sexual assault and harassment on campus will roll out shortly to address student concerns.
Davison also addressed concerns about student safety at Guild venues, like the Botanic Bar. He said that Guild venues have well-trained staff who are ‘experienced in responding to the needs of any person in (Guild venues) if they feel unsafe’.
Davison reminded students that they can make use of ‘angel shots’ in the Botanic Bar or Grove Bar on campus. ‘If a guest comes to the bar and asks for an angel shot, this alerts our bar staff that there is someone in the bar who is making other guests feel unsafe. The bar staff will identify this person to security who will then remove them.’
This is not a new issue for the University – in response to the SSHAA Action Plan (2017), QUT stated they were committed to preventing sexual harm, and improving reporting mechanisms and support services. To directly address this recommendation, the University committed to ensuring students receive information about respect and safety during O-Week, distributing a respect and safety related slide to all faculties with encouragement to include this as part of lectures, and regularly updating website content to ensure information is easily available.
This week, both QUT and the QUT Student Guild issued statements insisting that they are committed to taking allegations of sexual assault and harassment on campus seriously, and improving students’ understanding of the support available.
The persistent online discussion by students over the last few days, however, indicates more work still needs to be done to educate QUT students on how to report sexual assault and sexual harassment, and where to seek support on campus.
You can read more about the survey findings about campus safety here, and you can see more student stories like these here.
To see the full list of recommendations from the SSHAA Action Plan and all of QUT’s progress and commitments, click here.
Resources to stay safe on campus, report assault & harassment, and seek support:
QUT Harassment and Discrimination Advisers
QUT has dedicated harassment and discrimination advisors who use a trauma-informed approach to respond to disclosures and complaints. You can make contact with the QUT Harassment and Discrimination advisers to confidentially talk about reporting options and support at email@example.com or make an online disclosure here.
QUT Guild Advocacy
You may also get in touch with the QUT Guild’s advocacy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUT Respect and Safety Resources
Further information regarding what constitutes sexual harassment, sexual assault and consent, and information and contacts for student support services can be found here.
QUT SafeZone App
Download the free SafeZone app on your phone to enable immediate assistance from QUT Security if you’re feeling unsafe or threatened, as well as a check-in service if studying alone or late at night on campus.
Glass recommends saving the phone numbers listed on this page in your contacts and calling campus security if you ever feel unsafe on campus or need an escort when walking around campus (especially at night).
If you’re looking for general social support, Linkmate is a platform that connects like-minded peers to form friendships and build support networks. Also keep your eyes peeled for Linkmate workshops on campus, held in conjunction with the QUT Student Guild.
Other Support Services:
QUT’s full statement provided to Glass:
QUT has zero tolerance for sexual harassment or sexual assault at QUT. We are firmly committed to ensuring a fair, safe and respectful working and learning environment for everyone.
Any disclosure or complaint is treated seriously and confidentially with a trauma-informed approach at all times.
The Respect and safety at QUT website provides information for students including what constitutes sexual harassment, sexual assault and consent, and information and contacts for student support services both within and outside QUT. This website further details student rights and reporting options, and information about making disclosures or complaints.
Students are encouraged to utilise the QUT SafeZone App, which enables immediate assistance if feeling unsafe or threatened, as well as a check-in service if studying alone or late at night on campus
We encourage everyone to look out for others and, if you see something that makes you worry or feel uncomfortable, to say something and get help. As well as our security staff, we have 15 Emergency Call points located across the Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point campuses, enabling immediate connection to, and assistance from, QUT Safety and Security at any time of the day or night.
Whilst QUT’s results from the National Student Safety Survey are similar to the national picture, significant and collaborative efforts with the QUT Student Guild have been made to strengthen and focus activities aimed at improving students’ knowledge of how to make a disclosure or complaint, and where to seek assistance and support.
Dedicated harassment and discrimination advisers have been employed, and utilise trauma-informed approaches to responding to disclosures and complaints.
Sensitive disclosure training is provided to key staff, and MATE bystander training is delivered to Student Leaders and new Student Guild members.
This article was written by Glass Editors Ciaran Greig, Tom Loudon and Celeste Muller.