On Friday, the master of Wesley College, Lisa Sutherland, said in a statement that she would not divulge the names of those involved to vice-chancellor Michael Spence. “Wesley College has informed the vice-chancellor at the University of Sydney that the college is not in a position to provide the names because of its adherence to its policy on privacy,” she said.
“Wesley College is a privately operated institution that provides a residential community for adult students, and part of the development of students through their university years is to have the opportunity to lead and self-govern within the supportive and values-driven environment that Wesley provides.”
On Thursday, the university’s administration said it was “outraged” by the actions of the students. It is understood some parents are considering withdrawing their children from the college, which charges more than $21,000 a year in fees. On Friday, a spokeswoman for the University of Sydney said the vice-chancellor had made his views on the matter clear and that this form of behaviour was unacceptable.
“Dr Spence would like the names of the students put forward so that the investigation can continue,” she said.
It is understood Dr Spence is “frustrated” at the college’s refusal to co-operate. The college’s defiance comes after a second scandal hit the Uniting Church-operated college this week.
It was revealed on Thursday that Wesley students had infiltrated a massage parlour and attempted to take photos with sex workers as part of a “scavenger hunt” initiation activity in February.
Despite the incidents, Wesley alumni have leapt to the defence of the college. A former resident, who asked not to be identified, said the journal had treated men and women equally.
“Most of us found the sexual equality we discovered within the walls of Wesley surprisingly liberating and empowering,” she said. “A place where male and female ‘promiscuity’ was treated really equally and where a vast, vast majority of women experienced less harassment, abuse or misogynistic behaviour than we did on the streets of campus or in public.”
The University of Sydney’s women’s officer, Anna Hush, said that the college’s reaction was not good enough.
“The students who created this journal need to take responsibility for what they have published and for its effects on the people they have named, and the university needs to take responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of its students,” she said.
“Inaction from the college and the university send a message to these students that sexism and harassment is excusable.”
In an earlier statement on Wednesday, Mrs Sutherland said the college had zero tolerance to any antisocial behaviour.
“Wesley College has absolutely no involvement in the editorial content, production or distribution of the journal,” she said.
“The students’ club has apologised for the content of the 2014 journal and has agreed that the journal will no longer be published. There will instead be a Wesley College Students’ Club Yearbook that will not contain any material outside the academic, cultural and sporting pursuits of the students.”