The 'Vision' statement of Victoria's La Trobe University reads in part: "La Trobe will be a University known for its excellence and innovation in relation to the big issues of our time..."
And yet, when one of its student politicians, Ryan Higginson, set out to draw the attention of the student body to what certain other student politicians had said on the subject of one of the big issues of our time, namely Israeli genocide and apartheid, he got suspended for his pains:
"In a win for the political right, student activist Ryan Higginson has been suspended from La Trobe University. For 8 months, the 19-year-old will be unable to attend classes or set foot on any La Trobe campus.
"According to its own regulations, the Misconduct Office that investigated Higginson is bound by the rules of 'natural justice'. But in La Trobe's kangaroo court, he was denied legal representation at the hearing. He was prohibited even to be accompanied by someone with legal training. And the full evidence against him was not available to Higginson or his lawyers.
"Higginson was accused of putting up posters that name and quote elected La Trobe Student Union office bearers. The quotes were taken from a student union council meeting that debated Israel's most recent assault on Gaza. The posters are alleged to have created an intimidatory atmosphere on the campus.* The charge is obviously ludicrous. Does the Labor Party create an intimidatory atmosphere when it puts up posters that quote Tony Abbott? What about a newspaper that publishes a politician's comments? Students have a right to know what happens in the student council and the arguments that their representatives make there.
"Another deeply concerning aspect of this case relates to the influence of federal politicians. Education minister Christopher Pyne published an op-ed in The Australian just days before Higginson received notice of his misconduct charges.** The minister had demanded that university administrations crack down on left wing activists and put aside concerns about 'free speech'.
"The day after Higginson received his notice, Labor MP Michael Danby announced that he had written an appeal to the university and had received a prompt phone call from the vice-chancellor in return. He declared that the disciplinary hearings would be held as a result of his representations to the university.
"There is no doubt that there is a campaign of intimidation occurring on university campuses. It is being waged against left wing activists."*** (La Trobe suspends left wing activist, Jessica Lenehan, Red Flag, 20/10/14)
In the spirit of truth in advertising, La Trobe University's 'Vision' statement should perhaps be amended to: La Trobe will be a University known for its excellence and innovation in relation to the big issues of our time, with the sole exception of Israeli genocide and apartheid...
[* "The student making the complaints at La Trobe, Jessica Cornish, 25, is now represented by Arnold Bloch Leibler in her complaints of harassment and intimidation against the Socialist Alternative and Students for Palestine. She said she had voted down a motion condemning Israel's 'ethnic cleansing' in Gaza, posters were pasted on campus walls accusing her of supporting genocide in Gaza. She also faced taunts from the students." (Left-wing student club banned, Timna Jacks, The Age, 6/9/14);**See my 6/9/14 post Pyne Whine Deconstructed;*** See my 10/9/14 post AUJS Plays the Anti-Semitism Card.]