News National ‘Close it’: Prestigious Sydney Uni college in sexism furore
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‘Close it’: Prestigious Sydney Uni college in sexism furore

University of Sydney
University of Sydney's St Paul's college has come under fire recently Photo: AAP
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Officials have called for the closure of a prestigious Sydney University college with a “sexist culture” after students were advised to refrain from making misogynistic comments online because it could harm their job prospects.

The post, signed off by college warden Dr Ivan Head and later deleted, followed an offensive comment from a student which was exposed by news.com.au on Tuesday.

The student described sex with larger women as “harpooning a whale” and offered to help residents “get rid of some chick” after “a root”.

University newspaper Honi Soit first reported the college’s response, posted from it’s official Facebook account: “Incautious and disrespectful use [of social media] can lead to damage and the idea that anything on Facebook is really private is simply not true.”

“Some things may resurface just when you need your best CV to work for you.”

“But the primary message driving this has to be ‘respect for women: now-always’,” Dr Head said at the end of the post.

St Paul's College Facebook post
A Facebook post by St Paul’s College, signed off by warden Dr Ivan Head.

The New Daily has contacted Dr Head for comment.

Women have repeatedly complained about cultural issues at Sydney University over recent years.

In 2009, St Paul’s College students made a Facebook group called “Define Statutory: Pro-rape, anti-consent”. The same year, a woman complained graffiti at the college bar said: “They can’t say no with a c**k in their mouth”.

St Paul’s is the only Sydney University college refusing to participate in a university-wide review into structural misogyny.

University of Sydney co-women’s officer Katie Thorburn said the warden’s initial Facebook post was a “damning example” of the college’s inability to fix its culture.

“It is clear St Paul’s only concern is their boys’ futures, not the futures of the women they hurt,” Ms Thorburn told The New Daily.

She accused the warden of only worrying about appearances.

This latest sexism is part of a long legacy of St Paul’s degrading and disregarding women. Enough is enough, just close down the colleges.

Ms Thorburn condemned St Paul’s for abstaining from the college reviews, led by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.

Dr Head’s deleted Facebook post was replaced with a statement on Wednesday, again signed off by Dr Head.

“St Paul’s College does not tolerate unacceptable or offensive behaviour against women and takes these matters very seriously,” the statement said.

“The attitudes expressed by the individual on Facebook were grossly offensive and completely contrary to the values of respect and integrity we expect from students at St Paul’s College.

“St Paul’s College does not tolerate unacceptable or offensive behaviour against women and takes these matters very seriously.

The statement said the student’s Facebook post was deleted within 24 hours. He was formally cautioned and suspended.

“Since his return, the student has been counselled by the college’s Officer of Discipline and warned that a repeat of such behaviour will result in immediate expulsion,” the statement said.

Sydney University Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence said he complained about the resident’s comparison between women and whales to Mr Head.

“I have today written to the warden of St Paul’s pointing out that the college’s response fails to address the deep cultural problems evident n the life of his college,” Dr Spence told The New Daily.

“The fact that almost 100 people liked this particular Facebook post indicates that a deep contempt for women is not just something that marks the behaviour of an isolated student, but a core feature of the shared culture of the men of the college.

“The college should acknowledge that it can no longer pretend that this is not a profound issue in the life of the college, going to its very licence to operate, and they need collectively to begin to own and to tackle it.”

The New Daily has contacted St Paul’s College and Dr Head.

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