Students could be booted off University of Western Sydney campus for wearing hoodies
September 3, 2014
The University of Western Sydney has threatened to kick residential students off campus for wearing jumpers displaying nicknames they argue are associated with bastardisation and hazing rituals.
Residents of the UWS Village Hawkesbury Campus at Richmond were sent an email last month warning students that "certain initiation activities that continue to occur at the Hawkesbury campus" were not accepted or condoned by management.
It cautioned that any student found to be involved in hazing would be disciplined and potentially evicted from the residence. It also demanded students remove or cover "mott names" from their college clothing.
The president of the college's student association explained that "mott names" were nicknames assigned to first-year students by older students. Names of current students included Stereo, Aussie, Otter, Dyson, Boy and Lighter.
"They're not crass or rude at all," the third-year student said.
She said the university's fears about hazing were based on outdated concerns.
"Motting is basically an old tradition where the third-years had total and utter rule over the first-years," she said. "But that's not what it is in today's environment. We're not putting anyone under pressure to do anything they don't want to do."
"The general population of the residents are unhappy that they paid $75 for the jumper and they're not allowed to wear them in their own houses."
But the university is unapologetic about its tough stance.
The deputy vice-chancellor, Rhonda Hawkins, said the university wanted to make "a very strong, principled stand on what is acceptable behaviour".
"I have been around at Hawkesbury for 30 years and I've had students come to me and say they've felt left out, they've felt alienated or they've had to do things they didn't want to do," she said. "The university knows those names are associated with a set of rituals and behaviours that we find unacceptable in a modern university."
She said the names were often not as benign as they seemed at first glance.
"Quite often there's an ugly other way of looking at those names that is exceptionally demeaning to women," she said.
As part of the crackdown, the university also decided to close the on-campus bar because "there was a portion of students that behaved exceptionally badly".
A number of students have received formal warnings over the past week after being seen on campus in the maroon hoodies.
The notice for being in breach of the of "UWS Zero Tolerance to Bastardisation", obtained by Fairfax Media, warned the students about "visible display of your 'Mott Name' on your Hawkesbury jumper associated with hazing and motting".
"If you are found to be in breach of these Village Rules again, we reserve the right to exercise our rights in accordance with the Residential Agreement, which may include [but is not limited to] revoking and terminating of your right to remain at UWS Village Hawkesbury," the letter sent from general manager Steve Tucker said.
Grant Chalk, the vice-chair of the college's alumni association, described the crack down as "bizarre" and "draconian".
"What the students have today is far more socially responsible, far more user-friendly and there's a genuine kinship generated through it," he said. "There is no bastardisation. If the uni wants to promote the concept that bastardisation goes on, that's quite upsetting. To have a demerit point put against you because you've got a name on your sweatshirt is beyond my comprehension. It's so ridiculous."
The university's Zero Tolerance to Bastardisation (Motting and Hazing) Policy describes unacceptable behaviour as "a person subjecting another or being subjected to an activity or particular form of treatment in order to feel included as a member of a group".
"The pressure or sense of obligation to be involved in or submit to bastardisation behaviours or activities can be subtle or overt," the policy reads.
"It is subtle if, on the face of it, the activity or behaviour seems harmless or meaningless. However, the problem with this is that it only serves to emphasise any power imbalance that may exist either between members within a group or between existing and potential members of a group."
Other banned behaviour includes shaving students' heads, pressuring students to consuming excessive amounts of food or alcohol and participating in dares.
A spokesman for Campus Living Villages, the accommodation provider, said the company worked in partnership with the university and supported the anti-hazing policy.