Students have criticised Queer Officer Connor Parissis for removing a number of Queer Action Collective (QuAC) members from the collective’s Facebook group.
The people who were removed from the group are all members of Student Unity, the Labor right faction on campus.
Parissis told Honi the removals, which occurred “two or three nights ago”, were “in response to Unity [voting] against Safe Schools and against binding on marriage equality, as well as … in support of detention [of asylum seekers]”.
At the recent Young Labor conference, Student Unity voted to ‘note’ a motion supporting compulsory Safe Schools; they neither supported nor rejected the motion, but took issue with its wording.
While Parissis noted that issues like mandatory detention are “not inherently queer”, he also said, “these views are not welcome within an action collective whose purpose is to fight against these kinds of oppressions”.
Parissis also told Honi, “a removal from an online space doesn’t equate to a ban on members” and their removal was “a polite way of limiting their contributions”.
Fellow Queer Officer William Edwards told Honi he “did not remove or authorise to be removed anyone from QuAC, nor was I informed of any removals until after the fact. My co-officer acted independently and without my knowledge.”
In a public Facebook post, one of the students who had been removed from the group called the removals “disgusting” and wrote, “people have been banned in a space designed for queer students simply due to the fact that they have different opinions on queer students”.
The post also said, “those who are queer or questioning, but do not necessarily fall into the ideology of the far left, will know that they are not welcome simply for their beliefs”.
Some students have raised concerns about whether the queer-identifying students removed from the QuAC Facebook group will be able to access the Queerspace, an autonomous space for queer students located in the Holme Building, while QuAC meetings are being held.
However, USU Board Director and Queer Portfolio holder Courtney Thompson clarified that they would be able to, saying, “QuAC doesn’t have the power to say who can or cannot access the Queerspace as it’s a USU provided space … All queer students are welcome in the Queerspace at all times.”
Parissis told Honi that, according to the QuAC constitution, “members can be removed if they pose a threat or do not align with the motives of the queer collective”; the constitution, however, contains no such clause.
The QuAC constitution, which was voted in at today’s QuAC meeting, states, “Queer people from varying backgrounds and political stances are welcomed in the space, however harmful views that directly oppose that of queers, people of certain religions, people of colour, and women will not be welcome”.
The constitution also states that the Queer Officers hold the right to remove members from the Facebook group only when a grievance has been lodged against them.