Content warning: Mention of sexual assault
The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is taking action to work with Melbourne University Sport (MU Sport) to make sure grievance procedures for sexual assault are more visible.
Currently, MU Sport does not have grievance procedures of its own. UMSU President, Yan Zhuang, told Farrago that UMSU is aware of this issue and is working with MU Sport to ensure reporting procedures are accessible and to fill any gaps.
“We understand that because MU Sport is a department of the University of Melbourne, the University’s policies apply to it. Hence, the body responsible for grievance procedures is Safer Communities, which is the University’s program for dealing with behaviours of concern,” she said.
“However, UMSU is concerned that students and staff members involved in MU Sport may be unaware of this procedure. We want to ensure that all bases are covered and that students understand what options are available to them if something potentially goes wrong,” she said.
Any grievances involving students at a sporting event (such as the Australian University Games) need to be dealt with under the University’s Student Complaints and Grievances Policy or the Student Misconduct Policy.
Former MU Sport Advisory Board Student Representative, Hana Dalton, believes there is plenty of room for improvement at the University to establish just and accessible procedures for dealing with matters such as sexual assault.
“As a woman and former student athlete, I’m acutely aware of how certain spaces at sporting events can feel quite unsafe, particularly where alcohol is involved,” she said. “I think the issue of sexual assault and harassment needs urgent attention at a sector-wide level as well as at a university level and within all sections of the university community.”
MU Sport claims to be addressing this issue, and have implemented proactive steps to ensure student safety during events. Director of MU Sport, Tim Lee, says that student safety is a serious priority for the centre.
“There is a female staff member present at all major student sporting competitions and all student athletes, team managers and coaches sign, and commit to, a Participant Agreement outlining expectations of behaviour. Team managers and coaches are also selected carefully and an extensive training program undertaken.”