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UTas’ own hunting ground

“I wish that all the ladies were buns in the oven

and if I were a baker, I’d cream them by the dozen.”

These are just some of the words that male students from UNSW’s Phillip Baxter College were filmed chanting several weeks ago. This video has since gained nation-wide media attention, calling into question the extent to which women are objectified on university campuses.

Amidst the media coverage, former TUU President and current Women’s Officer at National Union of Students, Heidi La Paglia said in a Facebook post that she knows what UTas colleges are like and they promote a similar rape culture.

Former president of St John Fisher College, Abbey Studley, said that she was “nothing but upset” by Ms La Paglia’s comments.

“All three colleges in the South are positive places to live, and in recent years they have been nothing but supportive and definitely not promoting rape culture,” she said.

“I’m proud to say that the colleges are a well-rounded place to live, with fantastic staff, awesome student teams, and opportunities for extracurricular activities.

“The colleges work so hard to pull themselves away from negative connotations and they, in no way would be okay with this kind of comment, especially from someone who had never attended a university college herself.”

Ms La Paglia said that her Facebook post was based on the experiences that women from UTas colleges had shared with her.

“At colleges around Australia there is a ‘bro’ type culture that does encourage men particularly to participate in behaviour like chanting that does promote the objectification of women,” Ms La Paglia said.  

A former resident of Jane Franklin Hall said that chants such as those at Baxter College are frequent at off-campus events.

Jane Franklin Hall principal Mark Harrison said that the college does not approve of “some behaviours that have been carried over from past generations”.

“We don’t allow chants on campus, infact our handbook says that it’s forbidden and we want to make sure that there is a culture that respects all students,” Mr Harrison said.

He said that he will be working alongside other members at UTas to implement a program to ensure that such respect is granted.

“My writ stops at the gate but I do what I can to discourage that behaviour,” Mr Harrison said.

President of Baxter College, James Dunn, told ABC’s 7:30 Report that despite the initial negative media coverage, having this issue raised could be a positive move forwards.

“I do regret that the video was filmed and brought to light in the way that it was, but I don’t regret that this issue was brought to our attention. Now we get the chance to fix it in the future and make a better culture within Baxter College,” Mr Dunn said.

Ms La Paglia has asked individuals who have participated in such chants to reflect on their behaviour and how it might affect others.

“It’s [also] really important to ask women’s groups what they do think of things like chanting and whether college and clubs do make women feel unsafe because a lot of the time those consultations don’t actually happen,” Ms La Paglia said. 

  • Show Comments

  • Abbey P Saach

    This is ridiculous. These days woman are getting over the top about such stupid things.
    If they want to chant, who cares. They aren’t up in anyone’s faces
    Modern day feminism is disgusting and its just being used to suppress a gender.

    Heidi sounds like she needs a good talking to, outside of her “safe places” and “woman’s groups” because its just a festering disease of ill hatred and shes doing nothing but hanging around people with the same mind.

    I for one have lived on uni grounds and its perfectly fine. She needs to find something better to do with her life than using it to make another gender feel bad because of how they are.

  • Hannah

    As someone who has lived at a utas collage for almost two years I can say with confidence that these chats have never made me feel unsafe or victimised as a women. Collages are are a fantastic place to live, they are a supportive and caring community. All this talk about tape culture in chants is simply stupid!

  • Ryan

    I am also a Former President of St John Fisher College and take offence that we are labelled in this light. The college system definitely has a few floors but so do every workplace, school or club I have ever been involved with! If this was such a culture why are there so many long term relationships and friendships created under these environments? I know all of these chants and yes some of the content is crude but it gave you an ownership and a sense of belonging when you were singing them at the other colleges. I am glad some of the initiation practices of the past have been stopped, but it is always nice to see a few traditions staying. I went to JFC without a single connection to the place, would it have been any different if I went to another college? only difference would have been a few lyrics to a few chants…

  • Chris

    As a current resident of a UTAS college, it is a bit worrying that someone who has never had the fantastic experience of being part of a university college can say such negative comments relating to it. Ms La Paglia clearly has not experienced the college culture and only seeks to highlight an act that is largely eradicated and certainly a stain that has since washed away. By drawing attention to negative aspects of a perceived culture, this is ignoring the numerous, invaluable experiences that one can have at a college. I came to this state knowing not a single person, and yet now I am part of a tight-nit college committee and live with 109 fantastic, supportive people. Where else can you get this kind of support. The thought of moving to Tasmania for me was scary, but within the first week of being at college I could tell that there would always be help and support around. The idea that colleges somehow support rape culture is a gross indiscretion, not to mention entirely false statement. I hope that people can see past the superficial and misled comments by Ms La Paglia. I invite Ms La Paglia to visit the colleges, whether it be Christ, John Fisher or Jane Franklin Hall and see for herself the environment and culture that is present.

  • Emma

    I am a past resident of a UTAS college and personally, I never felt that the chants we all sang together were encouraging any negative behaviour such as rape. I also never felt like I was at any risk of being attacked because the college environments feel very safe and welcoming. Every one is friends with one another and the idea that colleges support rape culture is just nonsense. I would advise that people should not take such chants so personally and if they have concerns then speak to the college executive team which seeks to make every single resident feel safe and at home.

  • Maddie

    I clearly remember in my first year at a UTAS college (2014), attending a college formal dinner at Pepperz, where Ms La Paglia (the then TUU president) was invited to speak. In her speech Ms La Paglia praised the colleges on the wonderful community and sense of ‘home away from home’ they have created here on top of the hill for students required to move away from home to study. I’m quite surprised at the turn-around La Paglia has had in her opinion of the colleges, especially considering she herself has never resided at one. Myself and several of my female peers who I have spoken to say they never felt uncomfortable, marginalized, or as if they were living in a sexist environment while living at college. The executive committees are excellent at their jobs, and create a warm and welcoming environment for all. It seems as if La Paglia needs to do some more research before making sweeping statements about colleges and lumping us in with the UNSW crowd.

  • Toby Koerbin

    So according to La Paglia a chant is symptomatic of supporting and defending rapists. Citation needed, is there any evidence for that at all? Never mind the places in the world where women can unfortunately still be victim blamed in the form of honor killings.

  • C

    Here’s an excerpt out of one of Jane Franklin Hall’s chants “…now she’s dead but not forgotten/ Dug her up and f***** her rotten” thoughts? Also, if any of you were aware of the event(s) that occurred at JFH last year, during a performance night, and the types of things that a group of boys said about a number of (publicly named) girls, I’m sure you’d have a different opinion.

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