This is outrageous. Sydney University is not betraying the most fundamental ideals of the academy. Why, it’s even contradicting its own expensive, glib, smug, lefty marketing campaigns and the Holy Writ of Gough:
University students are being told they will have to pay to hire security guards if they want to run events spruiking conservative ideals — including pro-coal ideas.
Student organiser Renee Simone Gorman said the Conservative Club was told by Sydney University it had to agree to pay “unlimited security fees” if it wanted to host an event called The Case for Coal.The club was also hit with a $760 fee to pay for up to 10 security guards for an earlier talk on the “Dangers of Socialism” in August.This was despite no protesters actually turning up.
The danger of socialism is precisely illustrated by the fact you need security to potentially protect you from socialists. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious.
A university spokesman rejected the fees were one-sided, but would not explain how the university decided who was charged.
“The University of Sydney makes its facilities available to staff, students and the community but all applicants are required to pay for the costs incurred for events,” he said.
“Students are charged whenever security assesses there is a need and all kinds of events are charged.
The article goes to note:
Kelton Muir — from the university’s socialist Solidarity Student Club — said his group had not been charged for security guards for their events, including talks by left-wing activists as well as other campus events on the “madness of capitalism”.
“We have not been asked to pay for security,” he said.
So much for Sydney University’s commitment to Gough’s pledge of “equality” they have used in their advertisings.
And so much for its commitment to free speech, free assembly and free inquiry.
Sydney University is effectively running a protection racket; where conservatives have to pay to exercise freedoms fundamental to our concept of society.
That this is happening, of all places, at our universities is not surprising at all, but none the shameful for all of that. It should be offensive to any sane and reasonable person that discussing ideas – and not even extreme political ideas; we’re not talking about a public lecture on “Why Hitler Was Right”, but mainstream political and economic issues – can now be either physically shut down by students who disagree or hindered by the extra cost of security because of the threat of students who disagree.
Universities themselves carry a large portion of the blame for this state of the affairs. I don’t even mean the fact that an overwhelming majority of academics and administrators are on the left per se; just that through their “no enemies on the left” instinct they have over the years cowardly acquiesced to and helped foster the current intellectual and political climate at universities: one of entitlement, grievance, victimhood and dogmatism; where the range of ideas represented keeps shrinking, serious debate is discouraged, and snowflake mentality tolerated (words are rape, micro-aggression, everything is racist, safe spaces, etc.). And now, instead of universities, it’s students who have to pay the price, quite literally. That the situation in Australia is not as alarming yet as on American campuses is a scant consolation; we are heading in the same direction.
This is not a new phenomenon either. Anyone who’s interested in politics and has attended an Australian university in the past fifty years or so will recall countless instances of the left and the far left trying to shut down debate, often violently. Conservative politicians, particularly those responsible for hot issues like higher education or immigration, have always run a risk of encountering misadventures when venturing onto university grounds. Liberal (and often Christian and Jewish) students groups have always been targeted by the radicals.
Over twenty years ago, in 1996, I had the pleasure of being one of the editors of “Semper Floreat”, the student newspaper at the University of Queensland. My three colleagues and I got elected in a landslide on an explicitly anti-“leftie business as usual” platform. Unexpectedly – because my side so rarely does – a Liberal Students-affiliated team also won the control of the Student Union.
While solidly on the right side of the politics (our “Semper” team included an ALP right-winger who shared our love of the left, as well as another friend who has subsequently migrated over to the Greens), we largely tried to keep the newspaper out of politics and focused on topics that actually interest most students (as opposed a small minority of activists). When venturing into political debates, we would often publish cases for and against in order to maintain balance. The campus left hated us anyway, because it’s not about entertaining students or providing them with two sides of an argument so they can make up their own mind, but about using the resources of a newspaper as a megaphone-cum-sledgehammer for your pet far-left causes.
The situation came to the boil half-way through the year. The Virgin business empire introduced about then on the market Virgin Cola to compete with the major soft-drink brands. One of their advertising campaigns ran under a suggestive slogan “Be The First”.
To take a piss out of the campaign, we published a centrefold poster for “Nympho Cola”, with a slogan “Join The Queue”.
The Women’s Collective, one of the few parts of the Student Union still controlled by the left, deemed our attempt at college humour to be demeaning to women and sexist.
All hell broke loose, including daily rallies against us and a campaign to force our resignation as editors. Events culminated in the left’s attempts to storm and occupy our office. It was unsuccessful (by a hair’s breadth), but the Student Union had to hire 24-hour security to guard our office and protect us from the grievously offended feminists and leftists. The shit-storm eventually subsided, but not before we had to spend some quality time with security personnel, mostly of a Pacific Islander extractions, with cute nicknames like Black Boy and Yowie. Not sure what these good gentlemen thought about the whole situation, but arguably that students are wankers and they made a right choice to get a job rather than pursue higher education.
Twenty-one years later, nothing has changed.
Arthur Chrenkoff blogs at The Daily Chrenk where this piece also appears.
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