Students To Protest Sydney Uni Funnelling Young Women Into Charlie’s Web

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Sydney University students have launched a petition and have called a snap rally for 1pm today on the lawns outside the new law school to demand the University stop promoting jobs at prominent barrister Charles Waterstreet’s chambers in Sydney. It follows explosive revelations published by New Matilda on Tuesday, that Sydney University law student, Tina Huang had experienced serious sexual harassment by Waterstreet, who allegedly showed her images of nude women and a masturbation video during a job interview. Waterstreet denies the allegations. Anna Hush, Sydney University’s 2016 Women’s Officer explains why students are angry.

Charles Waterstreet is the flamboyant darling of the Sydney criminal law scene. He’s also an old boy of Sydney University, with a storied history from his time at college.

In the 1960s he attended St John’s College at Sydney University for one year, after which he was reportedly expelled and excommunicated by Cardinal Gilroy. Reflecting on his time at John’s in The Age, he wrote: “When men are gathered together in living quarters as boys, when their hormones are raging against the night, fuelled by Foster’s and unlimited liquor, in an atmosphere that winks at shows of bravado and rebellion, then the consequences are predictable. Someone is bound to go too far because the boundaries are so blurred.”

Ah, those familiar blurred lines.

For what else is a boy to do, when his hormones are raging and the beer is freely flowing?

In his memoir, he writes jovially about spying on nurses at the adjacent hospital as they undressed after their shifts (calling it “a vital part of a fresher’s duty”). Waterstreet also fondly recalls having “kissed the bottom of every girl at Women’s [College, a female dormitory], running from room to room flinging the bedclothes off and lifting their nightdresses up and plastering a wet one”.

Charming.

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And what better way to show off your ‘bravado and rebellion’ than by entering women’s rooms during the night and removing their clothes without their consent?

Waterstreet refers to this incident as a mere “stunt”. For the college women, however, this would be a terrifying invasion of privacy. One also wonders how safe they would feel sleeping in their own beds following this intrusion.

These aren’t just the boisterous antics of a young larrikin; and nor are they singular to Waterstreet. These patterns of behaviour become institutionalised in colleges, which serve as training grounds for young men, inculcated by hazing rituals and other misogynistic traditions.

HOUSE AD – NEW MATILDA HAS LAUNCHED A MAJOR FUNDRAISER TO ENABLE OUR ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT DIRECTED AGAINST WOMEN. PLEASE CONSIDER CHIPPING IN A FEW DOLLARS BY CLICKING HERE.

In 2009, 30 drunk college men entered Women’s College naked, surrounding and touching a terrified female student. There have been other reports of male students breaking into women’s rooms at night by climbing through windows. Graffiti was found in the St Paul’s college bar, reading “they can’t say no with a cock in their mouth”. And just last year, the Wesley College journal was found to have published a ‘Rackweb’, which called women ‘bitches and hoes’ and scored students on their number of hook-ups.

These men often go on to positions of power and authority. Protected by their institutional connections and wealth, they are left free to abuse this power, with young women often bearing the costs.

After completing his degree while living at St Andrew’s College, Waterstreet went on to lecture in public law at UNSW. “I made a pledge with myself not to sleep with any students until the graduate course,” Waterstreet told Honi Soit in 2012. “Then I took them two at a time.”

However, Sydney University doesn’t seem to find any of this concerning. Not only does the University of Sydney Law School fawn over Waterstreet on their ‘Alumni and Friends’ website (and Waterstreet has returned to Sydney University to present talks on the legal profession), the university also regularly advertises positions at his chambers to undergraduate law students – students like Tina.

So, while failing to prevent sexual assault and harassment on campus, Sydney University is also channelling students directly into the chambers of men like Waterstreet.

It’s little wonder that harassment is so endemic in academic communities, when universities continue to laud men like Waterstreet as prized alumni, and enable them to pick out and exploit young women.

* Anna Hush (@_annahush) was the Women’s Officer at the University of Sydney in 2016. The Women’s Collective’s protest is scheduled to take place Thursday at 1pm, on the lawns outside the New Law School at Sydney University.

HOUSE AD – NEW MATILDA HAS LAUNCHED A MAJOR FUNDRAISER TO ENABLE OUR ONGOING INVESTIGATION INTO VIOLENCE AND SEXUAL HARASSMENT DIRECTED AGAINST WOMEN. PLEASE CONSIDER CHIPPING IN A FEW DOLLARS BY CLICKING HERE.

DO YOU HAVE INFORMATION TO SHARE? You can contact the author of this article by email by clicking here, or phoning 0407 555 328. The author of this article Facebooks here, and tweets here.

If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault or harassment support is available by calling 1800 424 017 and speaking to a qualified trauma counsellor at the NSW Rape Crisis Centre.

https://newmatilda.com/shop/

 

Anna Hush

Anna Hush (@_annahush) was the Women’s Officer at the University of Sydney in 2016.

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