VC's Update - events on campus this week

22 July 2016

Sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual comments and sexist behaviour is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated at ANU.

Hi everyone

It gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (SDSC) who tonight will celebrate their 50th Anniversary.  The centre's tradition for excellence, leading international research specialising in strategy and defence has ensured that it has remained Australia's foremost academic institute for strategic studies research, education and commentary. Since its establishment SDSC has been home to many prominent thinkers in the field and has played a leading role in Australia and the region, shaping our international strategic studies, policies and debates. Well done to all the staff and students, past and present, who have played a role in this great ANU success story.

This week I was shocked to learn of the appalling behaviour and actions of a few student members of our community. Let me again be crystal clear on this matter. Sexual harassment, unwelcome sexual comments and sexist behaviour is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated at ANU. Providing students who live on campus with safe and inclusive communities is a commitment that I have taken as Vice-Chancellor and one that I take very seriously. I am overwhelmingly disappointed by the actions of a group of male students at John XXIII widely reported in the media this week. This type of behaviour prevents other students from feeling safe and secure in their on-campus homes. That is not the ANU I envisage or want to be a part of and I hope you agree.

I want to celebrate the bravery of Alexandra Lewis, the woman who brought this incident to our attention. I commend Woroni for publishing Alexandra's article. I would also like to commend and thank Alexandra's friend who brought the issue to her attention. Like him, we all have a responsibility to take a stand against sexism on our campus to ensure that perpetrators know it is not acceptable and that those experiencing unwanted sexual attention are supported.

In conjunction with Universities Australia, this week the University is launching a series of posters and a website that outline support available for students who experience sexual assault or harassment. Whilst not a direct response to the incident outlined above, it is one of the measures ANU is taking to help support and provide advice to people who may have experienced an assault. Check out the website  and if you have further suggestions about how we can tackle this issue, please get in contact with myself or Professor Richard Baker, Pro Vice-Chancellor (University Experience).

On a happier note, the Chancellor, along with the Japanese Ambassador and the Deputy Chief of Mission from the US Embassy planted a tree in support of nuclear disarmament and peace at the Crawford School on Thursday. The tree descends from a Gingko Biloba that survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

A brief reminder that on Monday 1 August we will be celebrating the University's 70th Anniversary. If you haven't already, please RSVP to attend the celebration.

Finally, the Postgraduate and Research Students' Association would like to extend an invitation to all staff and students to attend their family-friendly Winter Circus tomorrow, Saturday 23 July from 11am-3pm in Union Court. All free, with lots of circus activities for the children of our staff and students.

Enjoy your weekend.



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Comment by Asmi Wood
3.45pm 26 Jul 2016

Good on you Alexandra and friend for your brave action. Your course of action is indeed the better one for our broader campus community.  Bravo! Asmi from a sunny Oxford.