Red Zone Report Highlights Harassment & Violence at ANU Halls of Residence

Content warning: This article contains discussion of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and violence.

The Red Zone report has highlighted harassment and dangerous behaviour at ANU colleges in previous years, including the publication of nude images of residents at Bruce Hall without consent.

The report, an investigation into the culture and safety of Australia’s residential halls produced by End Rape on Campus, discussed a Johns XXIII college tradition it says is called “dead possum”. The report claims first year students are “ordered onto the branches of trees” and made to drink until one student falls off, after which the student is “beaten”. The report also claims five students were expelled from Johns last year for taking “clandestine pictures” of female college residents.

Bruce Hall was mentioned, with the report claiming “students at Bruce Hall were trading and soliciting nude images of female residents” in a public forum online, which was hosted and operated outside of Australia. This occurred in 2016, and Federal Police eventually shut down the site. Existing media coverage does not specifically mention Bruce Hall, but End Rape on Campus told Observer the claim was “verified by several sources” who could not be identified due to the sensitivity of the reporting. ANU has not denied the report’s claim. The much-covered Eagle Rock tradition at Burton & Garran Hall was also discussed.

ANU did not deny any of the report’s claims. In a statement, the University said the events referenced were “from previous years, and have been dealt with by the University and the respective residence”. ANU emphasised that “sexist and harassing behaviour has no place at ANU”. The university also highlighted that it has committed to follow the recommendations of last year’s review into its own policies, and will continue to work towards those commitments.

In a joint statement, ANUSA, PARSA, the Inter-Hall Council, and the Women’s and Queer* Departments said they “condemn those culture and practices in our Residential Halls that create dangerous power imbalances and undermine consent”. The student organisations also reaffirmed their commitment to hold ANU accountable on their promise to review Residential Halls, saying they would ensure “the review does follow evidence-based methodology” and that ANU implement whatever recommendations arise.

The report, which largely focused on the University of Sydney, argued that a culture of sexism and harassment “cannot reform itself” and advised that residences need to “reform… the structural arrangements which cede power to [the existing cultures]”.

Update: Updated to include statement from student organisations.

Update: Updated to remove ambiguity about the public forum the report claims Bruce residents used being hosted outside of Australia, and not at Bruce Hall.

Update: Updated to include a comment from End Rape on Campus regarding the source of the claims surrounding Bruce Hall.

If you have been sexually assaulted, or affected by a sexual assault, support is available:
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre: (02) 6247 2525 (7am-11pm)
1800 RESPECT (24/7)
ANU Counselling: 02 6125 2442 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)