More recently in the news, one of Melbourne’s most prestigious private schools has been implicated in a series of sexual assault scandals. Parents and students from Wesley college have been increasingly coming out and have begun to disclose incidents of harassment, sexual assault ‘and disrespect to girls by male students.’ Over a dozen have come forward helping to shed light on this misogyny crisis occurring within the school.
Nick Evans, the principal of Wesley College has made steps in the right direction by engaging in open discussions with the girls and their experiences at the college and it seems the college is engaged with Bravehearts, a child protection agency. Going to The Age, senior students told the media outlet ‘of multiple instances of sexual harassment on campus and sexual abuse by male students with whom they were, or were not, in relationships.’ I think Brittany Higgins coming out and telling her story has really shaped the way this discourse is unfolding and helped many others to come forward.
This scandal at Wesley College is important because it highlights the passivity of individuals in power in order to address misogyny and sexual assault cases in an appropriate fashion. These sexual assault and harassment allegations raised by several girls is important because many of the incidents were not dealt with. One student made a statement to The Age saying “my parents and I brought up the matter of sexual harassment and assault on campus. Personally I felt nothing changed, I felt I was never believed or taken seriously…”
Another person came forward and stated: “My experience is that I have been groped multiple times on school grounds, one of which was witnessed by a teacher who empathised with me but didn’t do anything about it. I can’t wait in line for lunch without someone grabbing my butt. I can’t walk through school without passing people that have raped, sexually assaulted and or sexually harassed me or one of my friends.” This statement is chilling to me and makes me feel repulsed that the school let it continue on for such a long time without appropriately addressing it and ensuring the safety of these girls.
My frustration is with the individuals in positions of power. Mr Evans had said that the staff in the college ‘had previously not listened as carefully as they should have.’ As a result of the incompetency of the school, so many women’s lives have been impacted. This news surrounding Wesley college and the eruption of sexual assault, harassment and sexism claims came about after the Women’s March 4 Justice protests occurred in Melbourne. Apparently Wesley boys in uniform were making misogynistic comments after the protest which began to bring attention to the schools failures.
I’m appalled and disgusted by the stories which are being told about Wesley College culture. Hopefully these girls get the justice they deserve and that fundamental change can within the college walls.