Monash University Must Stop Censorship On Campus

 - March 24

The Institute of Public Affairs is calling on the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University to stop the censorship of ideas and speech which is taking place at Monash University as a result of the actions of the Monash Student Association (MSA).

In February, a representative of Generation Liberty attempted to book a stall on behalf of Generation Liberty at Monash University’s ‘Orientation Festival’ operated by the MSA.

On 18 February 2021, the MSA informed the representative of Generation Liberty that the application had been refused because the MSA Executive determined that the MSA “holds an overarching responsibility to distance itself from those who seek to mislead or deceive the student community”, and that “the IPA has a clear and consistent track record of misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to climate policy.”

Generation Liberty is an educational program of the Institute of Public Affairs that introduces young people to the ideas of personal, political and economic freedom through campus events, digital output, and research.

“The Vice-Chancellor of Monash University, Professor Margaret Gardener AC, must intervene to prevent the MSA from using their power to undermine the purpose of a university by censoring speech and ideas,” said Renee Gorman, National Manager of Generation Liberty.

“This kind of censorship must never happen again, to any organisation on any university campus in Australia.”

On 23 February 2021, Renee Gorman provided a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Monash University informing the VC of the censorship of Generation Liberty, and that this censorship could potentially be in breach of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, on the basis that treating groups or individuals unfavourably because of their political beliefs or opinions is potentially unlawful “direct discrimination” as defined by section 8 of the Act.

On 25 February 2021, the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of Monash University, Peter Marshall, responded in an email that “freedom of speech and academic freedom are valued and protected.” And that “We [Monash University] hold these freedoms as fundamental to the nature of a university, and they are enshrined in our founding legislation.” However, Mr Marshall noted that Monash University would not be taking any action to protect freedom of speech because “the MSA is an independent incorporated association and the University is unable to compel the MSA as to who should participate in its sanctioned events and which organisations it should receive sponsorship from.”

“A significant portion of the MSA’s funding comes from the compulsory Student Services and Amenities Fee which every student has to pay for, yet the MSA is actively denying those students from fully enjoying the university experience, which includes being exposed to a range ideas and opinions on important cultural, economic, and political matters.”

“This is just another example of how Australia’s universities are in crisis,” said Mrs Gorman.

A copy of the correspondence between the IPA and Monash University can be found here.