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"Homophobic" bullying in uni halls causes concern

Tue 16 Aug 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A number of queer students at an Auckland University hall of residence are concerned for their wellbeing as they believe a series of incidents involving an aggressive homophobic student have not been dealt with adequately. Details of the alleged homophobic incidents have been revealed to GayNZ.com Daily News by a student at the University accommodation, who wishes to stay anonymous. The student says the series of alleged incidents, which took place during Semester One of this year, began with a male student cornering a female student with short hair, asking her whether she was a lesbian and telling her that he used to beat up gay kids at school. Following this incident, he is said to have “shoved” a bisexual male student down the hall into his room where he continued to intimidate him. The Resident Advisor - a student who lives in the University accommodation and takes on a leadership role - was called following this particular incident. On another occasion the student in question is said to have been banging on the walls in the hall yelling “let’s kill some gays”. He has also intimidated an asexual student and was overheard arguing with a student about gay people in a common area. His aggressive behaviour is a concern for many of the queer students living within close proximity to him in the University hall of residence and the incidents were reported in late March, early April to a number of University representatives, including AUSA advocacy and the hall manager. After no progress was made, the incidents were brought to the attention of the interim Queer Rights Officer who then contacted the Proctor - the University representative who deals with issues relating to student conduct and complaints against students. GayNZ.com Daily News contacted the Auckland University Proctor, Dr Jan Crosthwaite to ask what was being done in relation to these incidents and what the University was doing to ensure the safety of their students living within University accommodation. A University of Auckland spokesperson replied to our request saying “The Proctor is not able to discuss with external parties what matters she may be investigating.” They say “The University is committed to being a fair and inclusive place to study, live and work and does not tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever. The safety and wellbeing of our students and staff is our priority and we have a number of policies to deal with discrimination and harassment should they arise. We encourage all those who experience any form of discrimination to follow appropriate complaints processes; all complaints are investigated.” The University has a number of policies in place regarding harassment and discrimination and rules in place to maintain “community life” in student accommodation. The University's Residential Rules state that "Any serious incidents of harassment may lead to the immediate termination of your residency." Harassment is defined in this policy as including "intimidation", "offensive jokes", "assault" and "Expressing stereotypes (assumptions about an individual’s behaviour/values or culture based on a group they belong to) in an offensive or insensitive manner."  While the incidents may still be under investigation by the Proctor, four months after these incidents were first reported, the student in question continues to live in the University accommodation, where he is said to “regularly get drunk” and is in close daily contact with a number of queer students.    

Credit: GayNZ.com

First published: Tuesday, 16th August 2016 - 11:23am

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