The Australasian Union of Jewish Students has hit out at a letter in support of discrimination signed by Australian academics.
On 30 July 2014 five naïve and innocent Jewish students attempted to attend an open public lecture hosted by the Monash Socialist Alternative. On arrival they were extensively interrogated, and ultimately not allowed to enter on the basis of their political views and religion.
On 2 September 2014, Monash Clubs and societies deregistered the Socialist Alternative on the basis that a club which undertakes discriminatory activity should not have access to official resources and venues.
In response over 90 Australian academics have signed an open letter titled,
“Defend Free Speech- Reinstate the Monash Socialist Alternative Club”.
The Socialist Alternative have falsely claimed that their deregistration relates to speech, and some manner of conspiracy related to the Federal Education Minister, rather than their actions.
“The deregistration has nothing to do with speech, but rather the action of discrimination against Jewish students which has been undertaken,”
said AUJS Political Affairs Director Matthew Lesh.
“The Socialist Alternative have never denied that they discriminated against Jewish students, an action that they see as fully justified,
Mr Lesh has said that signing of this letter only serves to alienate Jewish students on campuses across Australia.
“These academics have chosen to put their name to a highly offensive, and fundamentally false, statement that misrepresents the issue completely,”
Mr Lesh said.
The deregistration comes in the context of cases of intimidation and harassment of Jewish students across Australia this semester.
“In the context of rising tensions in the Middle East, Jewish students on Australian campuses have felt alienated and targeted this semester,”
Mr Lesh said,
“we continue to work closely with universities and student representatives to address these issues.”
Matthew Lesh, AUJS Political Affairs | 0401 075 673 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Open Letter from Academics: Reinstate the Socialist Alternative Club
This important Open Letter from academics calls on the Monash Student Association to respect free speech on campus and reinstate the Socialist Alternative Club. Please share it widely.
If you are an academic, student or trade unionist, or representative of a community group, and you’d like to add your name to this Open Letter, please get in touch with us.
Defend Free Speech- Reinstate the Monash Socialist Alternative Club
To the Monash Student Association,
The deregistration of the Monash University Socialist Alternative club from the Monash Student Association (MSA) is the most serious attack yet in a nationwide campaign to stifle free speech on university campuses.
The deregistration took place at a meeting of Clubs and Societies on Tuesday 2 September. The official reason given for the deregistration of the club was the assertion that the club acted in a way that was “prejudicial to the interests of Clubs and Societies”, without any accompanying evidence.
The decision was made four days after federal education minister Christopher Pyne wrote an article in the Australian, calling on universities to clamp down on Socialist Alternative student clubs because of their promotion of “radical” ideas.
This represents an attempt to silence the students who have been at the heart of the campaign against the Liberals’ unpopular budget and, in particular, their attacks on higher education.
Universities are trumpeted as bastions of freedom of thought and expression. But in demanding action against Socialist Alternative, Pyne insists that university administrations should be “very careful not to invoke freedom of speech”.
It is deeply concerning that Monash Clubs and Societies- a wing of the MSA- has stooped to doing Pyne’s dirty work. Student unions have a responsibility to uphold principles of democratic debate and free speech.
We call on the MSA to overturn their decision and immediately reinstate the Monash Socialist Alternative club.