A Melbourne university student’s account of harassment at a residential college became a cornerstone of last night’s Q&A, with panellists including former education minister Simon Birmingham expressing their shock over the alleged incident – and the lack of ramifications for those accused.

Monash University student Melis Layik asked the panel how the education sector intended to dismantle an environment which shields young men from privileged backgrounds from the consequences of their actions, and was subsequently asked by host Tony Jones to recount her own experience at Mannix College.

Layik alleged that last year, three men broke into her room at 3am in the morning to throw raw meat onto her while she was sleeping.

“I went to the college numerous times and each time they did nothing about it,” Layik said.

“And, in fact, they made me feel like I was making a big deal out of this, and that I was almost seeking attention or something like that.”

Layik went on to explain the apparent reasoning behind the alleged incident – she is a vegan, and believes that may have played a factor – but maintained the supposed logic didn’t matter, considering the gravity of the situation.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young expressed her sympathy for Layik, before mentioning last year’s landmark report into sexual harassment on campuses and the need for educational institutions to take a firm stand against perpetrators.

“We’ve got to deal with it, if that’s the case,” Hanson-Young said.

Panellist John Butler characterised the alleged incident as a “criminal act” which defied explanation, and former education minister Simon Birmingham said Layik’s account was “appalling.”

“Clearly it’s behaviour that should not be tolerated,” Birmingham said.

“Those three should be tossed out of the university college”, he added, before asserting Layik’s departure from the college the alleged perpetrators remained at the institution is “the wrong outcome, and it’s an unfair outcome in those sorts of instances.”

The report mentioned during the discussion found that an astonishing 90% of sexual assaults perpetrated against university students in 2016 went unreported, and greater than one in five university students had experienced sexual harassment in a university-affiliated environment.

In the last year, hazing rituals at several residential colleges around Australia have come into the spotlight, as the full scope of the issue becomes clearer.

PEDESTRIAN.TV has contacted Mannix College for comment.

If you would like to talk to a counsellor about sexual harassment, please contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Image: Q&A / ABC