Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) is disappointed that a potentially offensive organisation will be permitted to have a presence at the University of Auckland Orientation, despite serious student concerns of racist material.
The new organisation, known as the “Auckland University European Students’ Association” (AUESA) was flagged by a number of students after representatives of the group appeared on campus, and the group posted slogans and material on their Facebook page that is considered typical of nationalist ‘white pride’ and fascist organisations. This includes a slogan ‘our pride is our honour and loyalty’, which appears similar to the English translation of the motto of the Nazi SS.
While all University clubs are required to be affiliated to AUSA before having an Orientation stall approved, the University’s Campus Life department granted AUESA a stall due to a practice of granting spaces at Clubs Expos to unaffiliated groups that have emerged over the summer break, during which time the AUSA affiliation process does not function. Campus Life was not aware of the concern over AUESA’s potential views and purpose when making this decision.
On 1st March 2017, AUSA President Will Matthews met with Campus Life Clubs and Engagement staff, and the University Proctor to communicate student concerns about the organization being granted a presence on campus. Despite these concerns being relayed, it was decided that the AUESA stall would be permitted to remain at the Clubs Expo on the basis that while there was ‘potential for offense’, the organisation had not yet committed any directly offensive acts.
AUSA respects the importance of free speech at the University of Auckland, but we share the alarm of students that this offensive group will be sharing our campus during Orientation. The University should offer a range of perspectives and encourage discourse, but our students must feel safe on campus. The presence of a group that uses such historically evocative imagery, particularly in a time of fear and oppression all over the world undermines their safety. The need for free speech must be balanced with the importance of having a safe and tolerant campus. There is also a difference between free speech and hate speech.
The Auckland University European Students’ Association will be applying to affiliate to AUSA early this year. We invite all members of the University community to take part in this decision on whether this group should become part of the student community. We are confident that we can facilitate a constructive resolution to this issue.
AUSA reaffirms its commitment to ensuring that the University of Auckland is free of hatred and oppression
For more information, please contact Will Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 0273201389