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Student protesters clash with Senate Fellow David Mortimer

The alleged assault prompts student to lodge formal complaint, writes Georgia Kriz.

Students involved in Monday’s Senate anti-deregulation protests are lodging a formal complaint with the University against Senate Fellow David Mortimer, after he allegedly assaulted two protesters.

Eleanor Morley, SRC Education Officer, told Honi that she felt “shaken” after Mortimer feigned punching her in the face outside the Senate meeting room in the Charles Perkins Centre, where she and around 30 other protesters were staging a protest against proposed higher education policy changes.

“I was rightfully angry that an older male who is supposed to be working in the interests of the student body thought it appropriate to treat me like that,” she said.

“Students are right to hold a peaceful protest when University management are not acting in their interests, and should not be met with this sort of violent response.”

The incident occurred after Omar Hassan, SRC Mature Age Student Officer, and other protestors attempted to prevent Mortimer from entering the Senate meeting by standing in his way and holding up an Education Action Group banner.

A scuffle proceeded to break out between Hassan and Mortimer, with Mortimer eventually pushing Hassan up against a pole in order to move past him.

Mortimer expressed surprise over the anticipated formal complaint.

“I find it quite ludicrous and quite funny that they are alleging I assaulted anyone,” he said.

“As [Morley] told me, I am an ‘old man’ – I am in no position to assault anyone.”

Hassan condemned Mortimer’s actions, but said that the incident would not deter the protestors.

“That a member of university management could display such a disregard for the physical safety of students is shameful,” he said.

“We will continue to fight Pyne’s reforms, and we will contribute to demand that the University management cease their support for deregulation. No amount of intimidation by rich, white men will stop us.”

A University spokesperson said Hassan should make a formal complaint.

“The Vice Chancellor spoke at an NTEU meeting late this afternoon and urged the student to make a formal complaint so that it could be investigated.”