A damning report that showed high levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault experienced by Australian National University students sent a ripple through the alumni community.
The 2021 National Student Safety Survey published last week found a quarter of students at the university had been subjected to sexual harassment since beginning their studies, the highest rate of among the 39 institutions.
Meanwhile, 12.3 per cent of students had been sexually assaulted since starting at university, almost three times the national average of 4.5 per cent.
The results have stirred anger and disappointment in the alumni community, especially those who were in student leadership roles when the Australian Human Rights Commission 2017 report sparked a flurry of reviews into the situation at the ANU.
Arjun Mathilakath Madathil, who graduated from a Masters in 2018 and worked for the postgraduate students association, thought he read the statistics incorrectly at first.
"It's disgusting. I feel that I didn't do enough, personally, and I hope the ANU leadership feels that and bring their A game into this issue and rectify what they did wrong in the past four years," he said.
Camille Schloeffel, who graduated in 2019 and founded the Stop campaign in response to sexual violence on campus, said the statistics were particularly shocking considering students would have been confined to their rooms or working remotely during the pandemic.
"It just shows how entrenched and normalised rape culture has been, is and continues to be particularly on campus. It's very disheartening, I think," she said.
Alyssa Shaw, who was president of the postgraduate student association for two years and is now a campaign manager at Fair Agenda, said she felt a mixture of emotions when she saw the recent survey results.
"I found it quite really traumatising because I was at ANU when the first survey in 2017 came out," Ms Shaw said.
"To say that the students were still experiencing such high rates of violence five years on, was disappointing to say the least."
Ms Shaw said a combination of poor culture and lack of staff in pastoral care roles had contributed to the safety problems in residential halls.
She penned an open letter detailing the concerns of alumni and asking for an update on August 1 this year. Students, alumni and staff have been invited to sign the document.
An ANU spokesperson said the university was committed to consult with its community on the issue, but would not give a timeframe.
"Every member of our community deserves to feel safe and respected.
"The survey results strengthened our resolve to make our community safer and work is underway to deliver our new $3.3-million-a-year Student Safety and Wellbeing Plan."
Ms Schloeffel said many victim/survivors had dropped out of their studies after failing too many courses in the aftermath of an incident.
"Every single statistic or number represents a person and I just can't imagine how people would have felt experiencing that and then having almost no avenues for support because of the COVID lock downs as well."
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