On 27 March, I was summoned to a Macquarie University Discipline Committee meeting for making an announcement promoting a protest against the education cuts being carried out by the federal government.
The Committee alleged that I had disrupted a lecture and that I had refused a “reasonable” request by a university representative to not deliver the announcement. I rejected these allegations outright. For one, the lecture that I had allegedly “disrupted” hadn’t yet begun. More importantly, the real threat of disruption to students’ education remains the biggest cuts to higher education in 18 years.
The allegations were an unprecedented attempt to use the new Student Code of Conduct to discipline students for engaging in activism on campus. It was a ludicrous development: a student facing the threat of discipline at the hands of the university for speaking out in defence of education. In fact, the threat of discipline came as a result of me publicly arguing that the university should get greater funding from government!
On 2 April, the Discipline Committee found me not guilty of breaching its Student Code of Conduct and made “no findings” against me.
I would like to thank Macquarie NTEU branch president Cathy Rytmeister for her support in this matter. Students and staff have a common interest in fighting together against education cuts (whether they come from the government or the universities themselves) and fighting to defend political freedom on campus. I stand in solidarity with the Macquarie University NTEU in their current campaign for a fair agreement from university administration.
I would also like to thank Chloe Rafferty (NSW NUS education officer), Eleanor Morley and Ridah Hassan (Sydney University education officers) and Chris Gall (University of Technology Sydney education vice-president) for their statement of support, the Sydney University Education Action Group for its motion of solidarity and my comrades in Socialist Alternative for their support.
Student activists should not be intimidated or discouraged by attempts to stifle our ability to fight against Abbott and Pyne’s $2.3 billion education cuts. The recent National Day of Action against the cuts shows that students are angry and willing to fight to defend our education, that we have the support of staff and that we have a solid basis on which to continue to build a campaign to challenge the government’s agenda.