Kristin Hosking is used to a tough life. She and her husband Phil run a sheep farm near Tamworth in Northeast NSW.
They have coped with drought. “We had to hand-feed our stock and watch them die. But we pulled together and got on with it. That’s just nature, you can understand that,” said Kristin.
Next came the bushfires. “What was left of our feed was lost in the fires, along with fencing and hundreds of acres.” That too, the family just dealt with, with their sons spending months fighting not just on their farm but on their neighbours’ as well.”
But what came next just blew them away. “How do you prepare your kids for absolute evil?” asks Kristin.
“How do you explain to your son that even through you have lived your life in a respectful, decent way and have done nothing wrong, all it takes a malicious lie from one girl and you can be thrown out of uni and your life impacted forever?”
On the first of March this year, Kristin’s son suffered an “emergency eviction” from the University of New England. He was advised by university administrators that he’d been accused of a rape that supposedly had happened five months earlier, in a dorm room on campus. He was given two hours to pack his bags and leave the university grounds.
Kristin and Phil brought James home to the farm and she took leave from her job because she was frightened of leaving him on his own. “I’ll never forget the absolute bewilderment and hopelessness in his eyes when we arrived to pick him up. My beautiful, caring young man was shattered.”
James had been accused by a young woman living in the same dorm who was known to suffer mental health issues. As a male nursing student, he’d became a support person for her after she told him about her history of self-harming, her tales of being raped by an uncle, and her suicidal thoughts. She was part of a group of four friends who interacted most days over a six-month period in 2020.
The bungling, self-serving handling of this complaint by the university was appalling – but sadly typical of the biased, negligent treatment of accused young men by the kangaroo courts currently operating across Australian universities.
Just think about this. Here’s a young woman accusing a fellow student of rape – in October last year. The university refers the matter to police but James is not even told. They leave him living in the dorm near his accuser totally innocent of the fact that she’d accused him of a criminal offence – and all this time he is exposed to the possibility of further accusations.
Then, suddenly, five months later, the university decides to expel him — by which time his accuser has moved on to study elsewhere. Despite this, he is suddenly deemed a risk to others on campus. It later emerges that the university received a complaint from parents of a friend of the accuser, asking why an alleged rapist was living in the dorm.
Once this all happened, the university asks police to get a move on with the investigation. James produces detailed evidence of his activities on the night in question: the rape allegedly took place in her room after the friends all attended a games night. He has social media messages showing the girl’s friendly involvement with him over the subsequent few weeks. But eventually she withdraws contact – which he believes may have been due to her taking offence when he pressed her to address her mental health issues.
Finally, after months of anguish and thousands in legal fees, the police announce they are dropping the case and the university informs James that the girl has withdrawn her complaint.
James is now back at college but the very public handling of his expulsion from the university has left him feeling very uncomfortable and shamed, with the accusation always hanging over him. He’s lost a year of his nursing studies and is now struggling to complete his degree because his disrupted schedule has meant he misses out on the government study payments.
Kristin has decided to speak out because she believes the public needs to tune into the injustice being perpetrated by our universities. I’ve made a video with Fiona, as she describes the shattering impact of this event on her family. James was happy to go public but we believe it’s too much of a risk for the young man to deal with the unfair stigma that accused men face.
The shaming of this young man by the University of New England is par for the course. Our universities have in place sexual misconduct regulations which pay lip service to fair treatment for accused students but in practice, accused young men are routinely hung out to dry.
IN THE last few years, I’ve been following a string of such cases, having gathered a group of very generous lawyers willing to offer pro bono help for students dealing with these kangaroo courts.
The wildly unfair, inconsistent treatment of accused students is so distressing to witness. Here was James left for months not even being told he had been accused, while other students are expelled or thrown out of colleges within days of an accusation being made. One young international student found himself given two hours to get out of the college which had been his only home since he’d arrived in Australia – dumped alone and desperate in ghastly accommodation far away from his few new friends.
Then there was the case of a group of final year students attending an interstate sporting event. The accuser made her complaint, was immediately believed and allowed to graduate. His degree was withheld for over a year while the university and the police conducted their investigations. He lost his graduate position and spent years in limbo until the criminal matter was resolved and he could get on with his life.
We’ve also had to battle a university which was preventing an accused student from attending a two-week online training course, the final hurdle in completing his degree. We struck it lucky, as we discovered their own regulations regarding the conducting of such investigations required them to ensure students are not academically disadvantaged whilst the matter was being determined. That got us through that hurdle and he has now completed his course. The minor “sexual touching” incident that led to the complaint was dismissed in the magistrate’s course but still the university administrators believe they have the right to conduct their own additional investigation – even though it has been thrown out by a criminal court. So, his degree is still being withheld.
Years ago, I remember being gobsmacked when another university proudly announced they felt it was fair to have a second go at nailing the accused student, even if a case had been dismissed in the criminal court. We were in correspondence with the university administrators through a student rep, who was grilling them about how their system operated. My contact asked the admin officer why he felt it was appropriate for the university to conduct their own investigation in these circumstances.
“Oh, we have a lower standard of proof — the balance of probabilities, rather than beyond reasonable doubt,” he cheerfully explained.
Doesn’t that say it all? These kangaroo courts have no interest in fair treatment, in justice for accused men. They are only interested pushing up the numbers to pander to the feminists who regularly claim our university are not doing enough to protect rape victims and punish offenders.
All this is going on with no public scrutiny, with secretive committees making decisions that can ruin young men’s lives – and all without proper authority. I have explained before that university regular, TEQSA, is breaching their own corporate government standards in not providing equitable treatment to all students.
Every year the activists ramp up the pressure. Right now, the universities are enlisting students to answer a safety survey, trolling for better evidence of the so-called “rape crisis” on our campuses. You may remember that their previous effort, the million-dollar survey run by the Australian Human Rights Commission, proved a total fizzer, with only 0.8 per cent of students claiming any sort of sexual assault, even using the broadest possible definition including being touched up by a stranger on the train to uni. All they really came up with was a lot of unwanted staring.
No doubt this new improved version will do better, given the efforts in recent years to expand the definition of sexual assault in various ways, including teaching students that all drunk sex is rape.
Our universities know that every year the pressure is on to come up with more convictions. So more young men will be chewed up and spat out, a tragic derailing of their prospects at the very start of their adult lives.
Bettina Arndt now blogs at https://bettinaarndt.substack.com/