An investigation has found the University of Adelaide’s vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen sexually harassed two staff at a university event.
As a result, some students are seeking to have his signature removed from their degree certificates.
University vice-chancellor found to have sexually harassed colleagues
South Australia’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption (ICAC) Bruce Lander yesterday found Professor Rathjen committed serious misconduct.
The investigation found Rathjen sexually harassed two colleagues by inappropriately hugging and touching them, and also kissing one on the lips twice.
Additionally, Commissioner Lander said Rathjen repeatedly lied to superiors about his previous behaviour.
Rathjen subsequently resigned from the University of Adelaide, the day after he gave evidence to the ICAC in July.
History of misconduct
As it turns out, Rathjen has previously engaged in sexual harassment.
For example, the University of Melbourne investigated another harassment complaint from a post-graduate student when he worked there.
Students call for removal of signatures
As a result of the ICAC investigation, some students want Rathjen’s signature removed from their degree certificates.
Student Representative Council president Oscar Ong confirmed he has asked the university to consider reissuing degree parchments.
“The university is looking if it’s possible to change a signature. It’s a really uncomfortable experience for most students.”
Abuse of power
Meanwhile, South Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner Niki Vincent said she is also shocked by the vice chancellor’s conduct.
“It is a very insidious form of sexual harassment, and it’s astounding that a university vice-chancellor would perpetrate that.
“I am mortified that we women are still experiencing sexual harassment in this day and age.”
The Human Rights Commission previously found 51 percent of students at the University of Adelaide had been sexually harassed.
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