Unis banning political groups from o-week

Issue 

A disturbing trend is spreading across Australian universities — some universities have begun barring political groups from orientation week (o-week) events.

The February 16 Sydney Morning Herald reported, "Charles Sturt University will prevent political groups setting up stalls during Orientation Week". CSU's Greg Walker "said that political parties would not be allowed to pitch to students during O-Week because it was inappropriate for first-year students' introduction to the university with their parents".

A February 15 media release by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) revealed that "Macquarie University management has given the responsibility of running 'O' Week activities to 'Students At Macquarie' (SAM) — a commercial arm of the student association". SAM says it will not allow the union or student political groups to have stalls because they are not authorised to participate in o-week. Yet, the media release noted, commercial groups and other off-campus groups will be able to lease space.

Recently, the Melbourne University Student Union banned the Resistance club from having a stall at the university's o-week. Sean Seymour-Jones, a Resistance member, said: "This behaviour is an attack on free speech. The sad thing is that this union will bar activists like Resistance from o-week, but corporations will get in easily. While Resistance will help campaign to save the student union as we have done already on other campuses, these corporations will make their money and forget the union."

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