More than 20 students have been thrown out of the prestigious University of Sydney college St John's after their alleged roles in the ''O'' Week ritual that left a female teenage student close to death in hospital, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
None of the 33 students involved in the scandal would be returning to Australia's oldest Catholic college next March after its rector, Michael Bongers, wrote to 21 of the group yesterday and advised them their re-admission had been declined. The other 12 did not reapply.
The unprecedented mass expulsion was backed by the college's newly appointed council and signalled a remarkable turnaround in what has arguably been the most tumultuous year in the college's 150-year history.
The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell, said on Wednesday: ''I have not been made aware of any enrolment procedures but I do have every confidence in the council and high hopes for the future of the college.''
Trouble erupted in March when a first-year student was rushed to nearby Royal Prince Alfred Hospital with a bleeding stomach after being pressured to drink a toxic cocktail containing shampoo, alcohol and dog food.
When a Fairfax Media investigation later exposed a culture of bullying and intimidation at the college, Cardinal Pell stepped in, ordering the five clerical fellows on St John's governing body to quit. Within a fortnight, all 18 fellows on the council had resigned.
Last week, at the first formal meeting of the newly-appointed council, it considered the formation of a special committee to address the lingering issue of ''the justice group'' and student re-admissions for next year, Fairfax media understands.
One of the new fellows, however, pointed to existing bylaws and college policy that placed such decisions solely in the hands of the rector.
A source close to the college said: ''The council put it back to Bongers and reassured him they would support him in his decisions. There was already a strong movement among alumni and parents that these students not be asked back. The simple response was: 'Let's get rid of them'."
FULL STORY St John's College expels 21 students over bullying (SMH)