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March 18, 2019 | by  | in News |
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Complaints of Inappropriate, Drunken Behaviour from Uni Hall Staff

CW: Sexual violence, harassment

Uni Hall staff members allegedly demonstrated drunken, inappropriate, and sexually abusive behaviour towards residents last year.

Two staff members had concerns raised about their behaviour at the Victoria University of Wellington (VUW) hall; Bryan*, a Residential Advisor (RA) and Joel*, a Senior Resident (also known as a Kiwi Mate).

RAs and Kiwi Mates are covered by the University’s Staff Conduct Policy. The policy strongly discourages “entering into an intimate personal relationship with a student, particularly with a student for whom they have responsibility.”

VUW hall staff members also sign a code of ethical behaviour which states that the “staff-to-resident relationship requires strict boundaries so that a positive and trustful Halls environment is maintained.”

Both were able to continue their positions at Uni Hall for the rest of 2018. However, VUW were unable to provide a list of names confirming staff who are working at Uni Hall in 2019.

Bryan had multiple complaints raised against him of indecent behaviour and sexual intercourse with residents, with little initial response.

Former Uni Hall RA Gracie* told Salient she was disgusted by Bryan’s behaviour within the first few weeks of residents moving into the hall.

“I had been shutting down a party where I overheard him talking to another Kiwi Mate about how he was trying to hook up with one of his residents,” said Gracie.

“Another time [Bryan] was so intoxicated his eyes were glassed over and he wasn’t responding to me when I was trying to talk to him.”

“He ended up being taken to hospital in an ambulance from town that night because he was so intoxicated.”

Uni Hall staff members and residents were dissatisfied with how management responded to their complaints in regards to Bryan’s behaviour.

Former Uni Hall Kiwi Mate Caitlin* and Gracie, both confirmed with Salient that hall management did not substantially respond to any initial complaints about Bryan.

When Gracie first complained to management, they disregarded her concerns claiming that Bryan’s behaviour was to be expected.

“I […] talked it through with the Acting Head of Hall immediately, sure that he’d lose his job. But all I got was an eye roll—apparently, Bryan had always been like that in his two years as a Kiwi Mate prior to being an RA,” said Gracie.

Gracie went to hall management a second time to complain about Bryan’s behaviour after more alcohol-related incidents occurred.

The Acting Head of Hall Louis* said he would speak with Bryan, and asked her not to tell anyone about his behaviour.

Gracie was told that if management found out about how Bryan was acting, Bryan could lose his job and that this would cause further problems, as they were already understaffed.

“When I followed up to see what had been done about it, Louis said he’d spoken to [Bryan] and had given him a verbal warning. Louis had said that he didn’t want to tell his manager as there weren’t enough staff and Bryan would be fired.”

A Uni Hall resident also complained to management about Bryan’s inappropriate drunken behaviour.

Bryan found out about these complaints and went into the resident’s room, reportedly causing damage to their belongings.

After this incident, hall management moved Bryan to his own flat and implemented an alcohol ban.

According to Caitlin, no staff member enforced the alcohol ban and no compensation was provided to the resident whose room Bryan went into.

Salient brought the complaints to the attention of the university.

In response, VUW said that the allegations against hall staff members are “concerning”, and acknowledges that it appears complaints made to hall management were not well-handled.

VUW says “a review of how the complaints were handled and addressed in these cases will be undertaken with the aim of getting to the bottom of how the matters were handled and, if failings are identified, how the University can do better in future.”

Joel, another Uni Hall Kiwi Mate, had sex with residents, and supposedly made regular unwanted sexual advances towards them.

He allegedly groped female residents, and persistently bothered one resident in particular.

Caitlin told Salient that Joel often tried to take advantage of this resident when they were drunk, despite them repeatedly saying no.

Staff members found it alarming that it was commonly accepted within the hall for RAs and Kiwi Mates to have sex with residents.

When Gracie took this matter to the Head of Hall, it was suggested that management couldn’t do anything about it, and that they tended to just turn a blind eye to staff and residents having sex.

“It felt like it had just been really unethical for so long that they’d all just been conditioned to think it was okay.”

VUW urges any students who have concerns to come forward, by contacting the university’s student interests and conflict resolution team.

* Names changed.

 

If you have had similar experiences in halls of residence, you can contact news@salient.org.nz Anonymity is assured on request.

If you require support regarding sexual violence or an abusive relationship, you can contact:

Student Interest and Conflict Resolution Manager, Emma Mossman: 04 463 5023

VUWSA Advocate, Erica Schouten: 04 463 6984

Safe to Talk: 0800 044 334 or text 4334

Wellington Rape Crisis: 04 801 8973

Call 111 in an emergency

 

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