Thursday, August 21, 2014

Socialist club censored at UWA

The Socialist Alternative club at the University of Western Australia has had their "club privileges" suspended on August 13. In effect this amounts to a suspension of their club's affiliation which could be a prelude to complete disaffiliation.

The issues seems to have flared over posters produced for a campus forum on the topic "Why Israel is a terrorist state". After initially approving the posters, and allowing them to be displayed in Guild areas on campus, the Guild sent an email to the club on the day of the forum saying that all the posters had been removed.

Prior to that, Guild representatives had asked the club to change the title of the forum.

In enforcing this "suspension" of "club privileges", the Guild has brought up a number of other issues about the club's conduct which appear to be hastily cobbled together to justify the move. These include complaints about "F*** Tony Abbott" t-shirts and "general reports of confrontational and aggressive behaviour".

Whatever the rights or wrongs of these accusations – some of which date back 18 months and are generally vague – they should not be used to prevent any political club presenting its views to the broader student body.

Further, Socialist Alternative argues that the process of suspending the club is in violation of the Guild's own regulations.

Green Left Weekly has attempted to contact the Guild for comment but has not received a reply.

Socialist Alliance – which is not in any way affiliated with Socialist Alternative – opposes the censorship of political student groups and is supporting the campaign to get "club privileges" reinstated.

Socialist Alternative has been circulating a petition online calling for the Guild to reverse it's decision.

[This article by Alex Bainbridge was first published in Green Left Weekly #1022.]