Australia: Tricked and stalked online: Perth uni students lodge complaints over 'threatening' behaviour - PressFrom - Australia

AustraliaTricked and stalked online: Perth uni students lodge complaints over 'threatening' behaviour

07:56  05 june  2019
07:56  05 june  2019 Source:

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Tricked and stalked online: Perth uni students lodge complaints over 'threatening' behaviour© David Allan-Petale The incidents happened at the ECU Mount Lawley campus and the Joondalup campus.

A young woman who was tricked into revealing her personal details by a male student pretending to complete his master's has lodged a formal complaint with her university.

The experience of Edith Cowan University student Daisy*, as well as that of another student at the university, has prompted a discussion about reporting uncomfortable behaviour on WA campuses.

Daisy said she was at the university's Mount Lawley campus last Wednesday when she was approached by a man who she said was carrying a “pile of papers”.

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The man identified himself as a PhD student who was asking students to complete a survey for him, and she agreed to help.

“His questions at first were very general – name, age, birthday, height,” she said. “Then he asked if I would be willing to ask some more ‘personal questions’.”

The man then began to ask her invasive questions about her relationship status, and what qualities she would like in a partner.

“I asked him why he was asking these questions, he said it was for his master's degree. I refused to answer them and walked away,” Daisy said.

“I felt very confused and uncomfortable when he asked got these personal questions – the red flag immediately went up. I almost just answered them to get away from him.”

Tricked and stalked online: Perth uni students lodge complaints over 'threatening' behaviour© Joe Armao Both cases were formally reported to ECU. While Daisy was left shaken by the turn in the man’s questioning, she initially resolved to write the incident off as uncomfortable and did not report him to ECU security.

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However, she became seriously concerned when she received a message request to her personal Facebook page.

“He sent me a message request asking how I was,” she said. “I accepted the message request to ask him who he was. When I did he responded and told me that we met today and he wanted to tell me I had beautiful eyes.

“After this remark I asked him if that was what the survey he did today was for – and he said that it was. I told him what he was doing is disgusting.”

Daisy blocked the man, reported the incident to university staff and posted a warning to fellow ECU classmates.

It’s understood the man was identified as a student and ECU is conducting an investigation into his actions.

Her complaint has since prompted another young woman at the university to come forward about her experience, and has joined Daisy in her bid to make sure complaints about students and their behaviour on campus were heard.

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What is Threatening Behavior ?The below standards are structured in such a way as to provide a This format is intended to assist in one’s knowing when behavior has become threatening /violent and when a referral to an appropriate office is warranted. Educational Outreach and Student Services.

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Tricked and stalked online: Perth uni students lodge complaints over 'threatening' behaviour© Supplied Daisy took the messages to the university. In her second year at ECU’s Joondalup campus, Julia* said she was befriended by an older male student.

While the two initially had a mutual friendship, the man soon began to make Julia uncomfortable and attempted to pursue her romantically.

When Julia asked him to stop, the student became threatening and sent her messages about her home address.

“[It made me feel] violated, embarrassed,” Julia said.

“I didn't think anything of it until it got creepy, and anxious to attend and travel to and from campus knowing he knew at least the suburb I lived in, my class schedules and the times and route I took.

“I ended up changing my route of travel for the remainder of the semester and carpooling with a girlfriend who was also approached by this man.”

As she continued to reject his advances, the man warned Julia two other woman had previously made complaints about him to the university because they had “misunderstood” his advances,

It was at this point Julia said she resolved to notify the university about the man.

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“[It prompted] me to push for something being done about him as it was no longer reasonable to give him the benefit of the doubt – as that is clearly what he takes advantage of when predating on women on campus,” she said.

Shortly after mid-semester break, Julia went to the campus and reported her case with screenshots of the man’s messages to her.

She said while university staff were “wonderful, empathetic and caring”, she quite quickly stopped receiving updates on the status of her report.

She said she wasn’t told if the man was still allowed on campus, or if anything was being done about her complaint.

“The general consensus from staff was that they wish they could give me the information I requested but that they were unable to breach confidentiality even in matters directly impacting my safety,” Julia said.

Julia said she was particularly horrified when she found out the man knew about the complaint she had made against him, and she became too afraid to go to campus as a result.

She took up online studies and never found out what became of her report.

“When every person I spoke to was bound by their legal obligations to protect privacy over my safety, I not only felt frustrated, I felt unimportant and questioned if what had happened was serious enough to have even complained about,” she said.

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“I had already been made to feel fearful and really grossed out by someone, and speaking out about it without any relief was extremely invalidating.”

In response to both girls, ECU senior deputy-vice-chancellor professor Arshad Omari said all cases where students felt unsafe on campus would be seriously investigated by the university.

“ECU is committed to providing a safe learning and working environment. We have no tolerance for sexual assault or harassment,” he said.

“We encourage our students to report any incidents of inappropriate behaviour. ECU will always respond to any such reports, provide support and take appropriate action as a priority.”

In ECU’s reporting process, the university requires a student is informed if a sexual assault or harassment complaint is made against them in order to give them the opportunity to respond.

It is also taking part in the Respect.Now.Always initiative, which focuses on personal security, and the Consent Matters training program which is set to roll out to all students in semester two 2019.

Julia said it was important for her to speak out about what happened to her in the hope it improves the reporting process for other students in the future.

“Women finding themselves in these positions have been told how they can keep themselves safe plenty already, and it’s not the women who are putting themselves at risk,” she said.

“We need better preventative strategies and prompt time frames in which these issues are addressed when they occur, we need to be believed and not minimised and we deserve it.”

Daisy echoed Julia’s concerns.

“I hope that ECU is very careful on how they approach this guy as I am now wary of going on to campus, should he find out I reported him,” she said.

“Because he found my Facebook profile, I wonder if he will go further to try and speak to me.

“From their promise that they ‘take these things seriously’, I hope that they really do and help girls feel safe at university.”

* Names have been changed to protect the young womens' privacy.

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