League players might teach rich boys a thing or two
Perhaps the elite all-male college at Sydney University, St Paul’s, needs to get some rugby league players to talk to its members about respecting women.
The ranks of the elite who would decry league players as “boofheads” and would have been most vocally repulsed by the exposure of player attitudes to the opposite sex have been revealed as nurturing a virtually identical culture of the sexual objectification of women.
Rugby league teams aren’t known for being overrun with players who are also top-flight academics but they could probably teach the boys at St Paul’s a thing or two. The students are supposed to be high achievers but for outright misogyny it’s pretty hard to beat setting up a Facebook group that basically endorses rape.
The group, which has been shut down, was called “Define Statutory” and the membership, mostly from St Paul’s college, described themselves as “anti-consent”.
Anyone who has spent time socialising with the certain species of young man that can come from a monied family won’t be entirely surprised by this. Rich kids are often the most boorish of carousers, the guys who end up singing with their pants around their ankles at the end of the night after engaging in hours of drinking games and forcing others around them to down their beers in one go.
And when they are exclusively in the company of other males their attitudes to women can be shocking.
One former St Paul’s lodger I spoke to today - he joined the college two decades ago after being expelled from another for an alcohol-related incident - said the Facebook group smacked of an undergraduate joke gone wrong. But a culture which gives rise to the establishment of an “anti-consent” group clearly has some soul-searching to do.
St Paul’s college is one of a number of residential colleges at Sydney University but it’s the most arcane. According to its website it is Australia’s oldest university college. Dinner from Monday to Friday involves dressing in a jacket, tie and academic gown. Fees are over $7100 per semester. It’s not exactly battler country.
The warden of St Paul’s has issued an extensive statement in response to the revelations. But the master of Wesley college, another in Sydney University, Rev David Russell, spoke openly about the culture of sexism among male students:
... in his eight years in the role he had spoken to several female students who felt they had to leave college. ‘‘They say ‘I just don’t feel safe.’‘’
For Mr Russell, ‘‘this is a story that has to be told. There is no question in my mind, women are seen as meat. That is the awful, ugly truth of it.’‘
One final thought: many college graduates will go on to careers as barristers, politicians, businesspeople and thought leaders of tomorrow. Will they be taking their college culture with them?
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