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Gay student forced out of college dorm after months of homophobic abuse

The Australian university says it would be difficult to stop this behaviour in the future

By Steve Brown

A gay student has been forced to leave his college after months of homophobic threats.

The first-year student at the Australian National University (ANU) first started receiving the abuse after moving into the university-own Ursula Hall last year when the word “faggot” was written repeatedly across his dormitory door.

After the first incident, he reported it to the head of the hall who wrote a letter to the residents saying it was inappropriate and if the person was caught they would be kicked out, but the abuse got worse.

The student – who hasn’t been identified – told “And then it kept happening.

“I’d go to the bathroom and someone would swipe letters under my door saying, ‘Leave or I’ll f**king bash you”.

“[I was] fearful. Fearful of the fact that someone was threatening me. I don’t know people’s actions.”

Over several months, the student continuously received letters under the door of his room and continued to raise it with the college but said nothing “really fundamental” came out from it.

He said: “The college’s response was the same: release a letter, have a little chat at dinner, nothing really fundamental.

“I don’t really care if someone’s calling me a fag – words are words – but when someone’s putting out threats to me and my safety, especially at college… make a more proactive initiative.”

He was forced to live with his then-boyfriend out of fear and eventually asked to be moved from the hall.

He said: “Coming here, I had an open mind. [I thought] it’s going to be a great experience.”

In a statement, the ANU said they offer an “unreserved apology” to the student for the harassment he received.

The wrote: “We offer an unreserved apology for any distress caused to the student as a result of the offensive behaviour of another student.

“It is unacceptable to use that a student has felt victimised and harassed in their own home.”

Mike Carlford, the university’s provost, said it would be difficult to give a “blanket confidence” that this type of behaviour won’t happen again.

He said: “As we understand there hasn’t been any further incidents, but it would be very hard for me to give a blanket confidence there, as the perpetrator was not identified.

“This sort of event helps trigger our review of procedures and policies, as unfortunate as it is, and we do hope to get better in this area through doing that. We do take this very seriously.”