Before the Easter break, the halls of the law school were rife with murmurs of a rumour whose content and importance had become more inflated than Clive Palmer’s sense of self.
The rumour as DM heard it was that a group of male law students had been using a secret Facebook group and Law Ball pictures to rank and rate their female classmates. The perpetrators would even view the page in class and its content was so objectionable that at least one of the students involved had to remove themselves from the page.
One of the aggrieved female students had allegedly caught wind of these clandestine communications and reported it, first to the LSS, who took no action, then to the Dean who took up the issue with the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).
Filled with outrage and intrigue, DM then sought to confirm the substance of the rumour only to find that, at least a large portion of it, was false. Nick Jane, the LSS President, confirmed that no one had come forward with a complaint, and assured DM that if there had been a complaint, it would have been treated very seriously and passed on to MLS staff. The Dean was also contacted for comment, but after expressing her deep disappointment in the alleged conduct, she also confirmed that no complaint had been made to the MLS.
Several students were approached, and although dozens had heard the rumour, only a handful claimed to have seen any first hand evidence. That anecdotal evidence was primarily sightings of an offensive page, which contained generic sexually explicit images, open around the law school.
Having exhausted several avenues of inquiry, and in lieu of any NSA-style information gathering capabilities, DM cannot say how much, if any, of the original rumour was true, only that a large part of it was certainly untrue. In a profession where integrity and reputation are of the utmost importance, the fact that this rumour escalated and then spread so rapidly is cause for concern in itself.
What is more concerning however is the possibility that the substance of this rumour could be true. There has been a strong push in the legal profession towards gender equality and the law school in particular prides itself as a leader in this field. Ask any person in the hallway and what you will surely hear is that gender inequality is a dying mode, and that when this generation is at the helm it will certainly be a thing of the past.
What this incident shows however is that for some, beneath this façade of equality, a culture of crooked masculinity and objectification still exists. Lawyers are often scorned by the man on the Clapham omnibus for spouting words that they themselves do not believe, and although we loath to admit it, it seems that there is at least some truth to that derision.