A University of Sydney student has been banned from campus after participating in a protest staged during a visit from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. On May 16, about 50 students held a snap action against Ms Bishop in the wake of the federal government delivering the most severe budget for tertiary education in national history.
Despite the large turnout, vice-president of the University of Sydney Union (USU) Tom Raue was singled out to receive the month long ban.
Campus Security Unit manager Morgan Andrews wrote in a letter that the decision was motivated by footage showing Mr Raue “attempting to physically force” his way through security and police officers. This was coupled with an allegation that police were investigating him “punch[ing] a Campus Security officer in the face”.
Mr Raue has denied claims he is under criminal investigation. Similarly, a spokesperson for NSW Police has said that no such investigation exists.
Mr Andrews’ correspondence was sent less than 24 hours after a demonstration against university deregulation that coincided with Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s adjudication of a Liberal debating tournament on campus. The protest attracted wide media attention for the degree of police violence it saw.
“Students were brutalised indiscriminatedly. One riot cop held me by the strap of my dress and pushed me aggressively on my left breast,” said University of Sydney student councillor Sonia Feng.
University of Sydney education officer Eleanor Morley, who suffered a fractured rib as a result of being punched in the chest by a police officer, believes the rally was ultimately a success.
“Every time a Liberal MP has entered a university campus since the budget was announced, there has been a student protest confronting them, and we will continue to [do] so.”
Ms Morley also denounced the University’s selective ban, arguing it was an “indictment upon free speech.’ There is growing concern students will be deterred from engaging in future protest action on campus.
Although Mr Raue is not an enrolled student, the ban has affected his capacity to act as USU vice-president.
“I have not been convicted of anything, and no hearing process has been conducted. I am deferred this semester so it should not affect my studies. I do work on campus though, and I can no longer access my office or attend meetings,” he said.
Mr Raue believes the ban is a “political move” which echoes the USU executive’s attempts to remove him last year for leaking information regarding collaboration between police and University management.
However, USU president Hannah Morris, who previously led the push to expel Mr Raue, has come out in support of her colleague, promising to facilitate his ongoing work as VP.
Mr Raue has stated he plans to “do anything” to appeal the ban.