You would be forgiven for thinking these words – “Who is responsible for ensuring the safety of students on campus?” “Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson and Vice Chancellor Michael Spence do nothing” – were spoken by a student activist. In actuality, that criticism of management was taken directly from venerated online publication, Facebook page Left Wing Bigots and Extremists Exposed 3.
After Left Wing Bigots and Extremists Exposed 1 and 2 had their audiences in stitches (literally – the main fascist involved was convicted of affray after he started a brawl in Lakemba in 2014), United Patriots Front and Reclaim Australia enthusiast Ralph Cerminara has decided to grace the internet with a third instalment of fights, fascism and family fun.
The website ‘exposes’ various USyd hacks – primarily members of Socialist Alternative (SA) – by posting screenshots from their Facebook profiles with witty and biting commentary like “don’t breed”. But Cerminara is not your traditional internet troll. He’s not strictly limited by the physical constraints of his mother’s basement, recently venturing to USyd’s grounds to confront SA member Omar Hassan with a poorly handled iPhone camera. In a baffling exchange, Cerminara tried to rebuke Hassan’s claims he was racist with the age-old identity politics retort that he is, in fact, half Jewish and half Aboriginal.
In light of Cerminara’s recent strolls through campus, the USyd SRC has postered its offices with warnings to call security if he is seen in the building. Riki Scanlan, one of the ‘left wing bigots’ Cerminara has ‘exposed’ attempted to report Cerminara’s threats to the local police. The police however, didn’t take the report, as it “didn’t meet their requirements”. Scanlan doesn’t think Cerminara and his fascist friends pose a threat to the SRC or activists in groups more generally. “I think that they can present a real threat to the safety of activists, but only because they target people individually and alone,” he said.
SRC President Chloe Smith has contacted the University and advised them “of the situation, including the threatening videos made and the profiling of students”. Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Registrar) Tyrone Carlin advised Smith that campus security has been informed of the situation. To Smith’s knowledge, no one from the website has attempted to enter the offices yet.
The University confirmed their knowledge of Cerminara’s recent visits. “As is consistent with any risk to student safety, the University has been monitoring the matter and has engaged Campus Security. The University considers its responsibility to ensure student safety seriously and will continue to review processes to this end,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The SRC has also decided to review its security measures. “We’ve been trying to get the University to pay for the installation of duress buttons in all the SRC offices for quite a while now, which is something I pushed for again in the context of these threats,” said Smith. These duress buttons, designed for emergencies, were proposed to the SRC executive over a year ago. “With a building the age of Wentworth there is also the logistics of getting the wiring to work. The delay has in part been working out these details, and in part waiting for the University to respond to request,” SRC caseworker Mel de Silva said.
With 20 years of experience under her belt, de Silva has many a story of fascist interference with the SRC to recount. “There’s always people wanting to confront us because they don’t like our politics. In the past that’s included people unhappy with our position on refugees. They vandalised the front of the offices, and smashed our glass doors to throw urine on the carpet.” “There was no proof of who were the vandals. I could not say for sure who it was. The vandalism indicated that the perpetrators were anti-refugee and racists. This happened maybe 12 years ago.”
Whether Left Wing Bigots and Extremists Exposed 3 presents a real threat or not remains an open question, but if it does, Cerminara’s question remains unanswered, “Who is responsible for ensuring the safety of students on campus?”