There's a stoush brewing at Auckland University, and it's all over free speech. The Auckland University Students Association is holding a meeting next Wednesday where it will move to disaffiliate the Prolife Auckland student club at Auckland University. We were contacted yesterday by a member of the club, and are happy to bring some attention to this matter.
Radical Feminist provides some more background to this case; she blogs:
Being the intelligent and well read people that you are, I’m sure by now you’re all well aware of the drama currently unfolding at Auckland University, where a special meeting has been called in order to try and disaffiliate student club Prolife Auckland next week – all because they dared to peacefully express their views by handing out pamphlets on the Auckland campus a few weeks back.
Make no mistake about it, this attempt to disaffiliate the Prolife student club at Auckland University is nothing more than an attempt to stomp all over the right to freedom of speech of students at Auckland University (coincidentally, just a few days ago internationally renowned pro-abortion advocate Peter Singer publicly opposed this very type of unjust treatment of pro-life student clubs at universities.)
You don’t have to agree with Prolife Auckland, but that’s the beauty of a university campus – it is precisely the place where a free, open and robust exchange of ideas and opinions is meant to take place.
The moment one group of students tries to gag another group of students simply for expressing a legitimate opinion in a peaceful and reasoned manner is the moment you’ve moved from an open and tolerant campus into something more akin to an inquisition court where dissent from the ruling hierarchy is intolerantly quashed with rabid intensity and prejudice.
For many years now the New Zealand education sector has been working hard to eradicate bullying and bigotry against students, yet that is exactly what we are seeing unfolding at Auckland University right now – a group of students (Prolife Auckland) are being bullied and treated as second-class members of the student body just because they hold, and have dared to express views that other students in positions of power happen to disagree with.
This does indeed seem to be an extraordinary overreaction from the AUSA. Sure; they may not agree with the views that Prolife Auckland is expressing (and that feeling in probably mutual), but ought the AUSA be effectively censoring the expression of free speech on the Auckland campus by sending a group with whose views they disagree to Coventry.
Aren't universities supposed to be places where freedom of expression is treasured, and indeed where students are encouraged to challenge the status quo as they make their way in the world? In our ever-humble opinion, the AUSA may be about to set a very dangerous precedent here. It seems that the AUSA and the members of its executive only want free spech on their terms.
We would encourage students to find out more about the issue, and exercise their democratic right next Wednesday if they agree that the AUSA has overstepped the mark; or even if they don't! Like freedom of speech, participating in our democracy is a right which should be cherished.
Disclaimer: We have no affiliation whatsoever with Prolife Auckland. Nor are we current or past members or supporters of any pro-life or anti-abortion group. Our views on abortion are personal; it's a very personal issue.