Knox College: no plans to change management

Graham Redding
Graham Redding
Knox College's board chairman says there are no plans to change management at the hall of residence, despite more allegations of rape and harassment.

A further story appeared in student magazine Critic Te Arohi yesterday containing the account of a student who said she was raped on her first night at Knox College, in 2016, the same day first-year students received talks about having consensual sex.

The student said after plying her with alcohol the man sent text messages from her phone to his, to create the impression she had consented.

Stories have also appeared on RNZ and Stuff about rape, sexual harassment, assault and sexist traditions at the hall of residence.

A review of the college's activities was held back in 2011, by both the Presbyterian Church, which established the college, and the University of Otago.

Board chairman David Richardson said it took time to change a culture, and the board ''absolutely totally'' had confidence in Knox College master the Very Rev Dr Graham Redding, who has held the position since 2015.

The influence of family members and former residents who held on to old traditions was something the college had to contend with, as well as implementing change within the hall itself.

There were claims in the Critic article another student was left uncomfortable after attending mediation with two men who had groped her.

Dr Redding said a range of options were available to alleged victims of sexual assault, but no option - including mediation - was compulsory.

''Depending on the circumstances and the student's wishes, [options] can include an internal investigation, referral to the university proctor, or to the police.

''We encourage and support students to report the incident to the police or at least to seek advice and assistance from Rape Crisis or a comparable advice and support network.''

The student who said she was raped also said the man who raped her also harassed or assaulted about 20 other women - something Critic said was corroborated by other former students.

She said he had only been expelled from the college after punching Dr Redding.

Dr Redding said he could not discuss individual cases of sexual misconduct, but no Knox College resident had ever physically assaulted him.

The Presbyterian Church has established a process by which allegations could be heard, and Dr Redding said the college encouraged people to use it and to contact Marks & Worth Lawyers Dunedin if they had concerns, he said.

A university spokeswoman said a ''hui wahine'' was held last Friday for all female RAs at the university to discuss sexual assault. She described it as ''positive and productive'' and a ''hui tane'' for men would be held after Easter.

The university did not comment when asked why men were not invited to the hui on Friday.

Sexual consent workshops held at university halls of residence were optional, the spokeswoman said, and the university would consider asking Te Whare Tawharau, the university's sexual assault prevention centre, to run more for both residents and students who were flatting.

In mid-February 2019, the centre had scheduled 40 workshops in both university and non-university-owned colleges, including Knox, with about 1200 students.




Sexual assault is a tradition?

When students choose another University because of Otago's collegial reputation, the 'culture' will change.