“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.