Sexual Assault, Revenge Porn Made Misconduct Under ANU Rules

Content warning: sexual assault, sexual harassment, institutional betrayal, revenge porn.

 

 

Sexual assault, harassment and revenge porn are now defined as misconduct under ANU’s discipline rule, Brian Schmidt announced today. These changes come after ANU was criticised for claiming they could not discipline students over sexual assault, and clearly allow ANU to penalise students who engage in any of these behaviours.

Sexual assault and harassment are now explicitly identified as misconduct by the University’s Discipline Rule, which governs when and how students and staff may be penalised for their actions.  ‘Revenge porn’ – the sharing of sexual images without consent – is now also covered. The definition of revenge porn has been taken from recently enacted ACT legislation, and defines “non-consensual distribution of intimate images” as misconduct under the Rule. The definition also includes “any other non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature”, including “invasion of privacy” or conduct considered to be “indecent”.

The Rule previously identified only “unethical” conduct, or that which showed “lack of respect for the safety or wellbeing”. While this can cover sexual assault, the lack of explicit definition meant ANU officials could refuse to act on sexual assault because it was not part of the Rule, according to the Rapid Context Review into ANU’s policies conducted last year. Women’s Officer Laura Perkov said the change means the University “can no longer say they ‘can’t do anything’, and escape responsibility”. Misconduct under the Discipline Rule allows a relevant official to make penalties up to and including banning a student from campus, or unenrolling a student from ANU.

Those  reporting sexual assault or harassment may now be informed of the outcomes of their complaint, though ANU has not committed to doing so. Previously, complainants were often unaware of whether any action had been taken against the alleged offender. This issue was frequently raised by student advocates, and was criticised in the Rapid Context Review. Under the new Rule, the assigned authority may inform the complainant of the result of their complaint, including any “actions to be taken against the alleged offender”, Schmidt explained.

Schmidt also committed to developing a Code of Conduct and Statement of Community Standard for students. The Code, following the model of the Staff version, will allow greater specificity about what ANU expects of students beyond the general definitions in the Discipline Rule. The Code will “ensure we can hold each other accountable”, Schmidt said. The statement of community standard meets another of the recommendations outlined in the Rapid Context Review.

These changes meet three of the nine recommendations made in the Rapid Context Review, all of which ANU committed to meeting. The University has already expanded training for students in residences, both for SRs and students, meeting another of the promises. Schmidt said “6,800 students” have now completed the Consent Matters module. However, several of the promises remain unfilled. Perkov called these changes a “good first step”, but said it was “only the first part” of a meaningful reform. Schmidt said he “understood frustration that we have not achieved more” but argued ANU was “making progress”.

Changes to the Discipline Rule went into effect on 21 March, and the Code of Conduct and Statement of Community Standard are being developed “as quickly as we possibly can” in consultation with student groups, ANU said.

Correction: This article originally said complainants were entitled to receive information regarding the outcome of the rule. In fact the ANU may choose whether to inform the complainant. The article has been updated accordingly.


Full Text of Sexual Assault and Harassment Definition in the Discipline Rule

(2)    Without limiting subsection (1), it is misconduct if a student:

(a)    sexually assaults or sexually harasses another member of the University community; or

(b)    engages, or threatens to engage, in any other non-consensual conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another member of the University community if a reasonable member of the University community would, in all the circumstances, consider the conduct to be:

(i)    an invasion of privacy; or

(ii)    indecent; or

(iii)    otherwise unacceptable conduct for a student to engage in in relation to another member of the University community; or            

Examples for paragraph (b)

Conduct that is an offence against the Crimes Act 1900 (ACT), section 61B (Intimate observations or capturing visual data etc.), section 72C (Non-consensual distribution of intimate images) or section 72E (Threaten to capture or distribute intimate images).

[Note:   An example of the operation of a provision is not exhaustive and may extend the operation of the provision (see Acts Interpretation Act 1901 (Cwlth.), section15AD and Legislation Act 2003(Cwlth), section 13(1)(a)).]


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)


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