The University and City of Sydney will co-host “Coffee with a Cop” sessions alongside NSW Police outside Fisher Library in the first week of stuvac, despite the threat of protest from student representative organisations.
The event — primarily targeted towards international students — aims to provide safety tips for when students are “travelling home late at night after cramming for exams!” according to an official University Facebook event
However, responses to the collaboration have been mixed. The SRC’s Education Action Group has planned a flyering campaign and public protest for the same time, attracting greater engagement on social media than the university’s event hosted by Student Support Services.
SRC co-Education Officers Jessy Xu and James Newbold were among those critical of the event.
“Police abuse of migrant communities and communities of colour are well-documented,” Xu and Newbold told Honi.
“We hope the University will take police out of the event and continue without them.”
“Other community groups are better placed to educate international students about safety in Sydney.”
“Coffee with a Cop” sessions at universities are relatively uncommon. In 2017, the University of New South Wales co-hosted a similar session with Eastern Suburbs Area Command.
NSW Police claims the sessions have “no agenda or speeches” and are “a chance to get to know officers in your neighbourhood,” according to its website.
Acting SRC President Dane Luo told Honi he supported NSW Police’s important role in keeping the community safe.
“I hope the event breaks down the stigma that many students have towards police officers,” Luo said.
A University spokesperson could not confirm whether the University would oversee information provided on the day, but noted a multicultural community liaison officer would provide multilingual support.
“This [event] can be useful for international students who may be used to a different style of policing in their home countries,” the spokesperson said.
A police presence on campus occasionally comes with protest. In 2018, controversial commentator Bettina Arndt invited police on campus after protestors clashed with attendees of a Sydney University Liberal Club-endorsed event as part of Arndt’s ‘Fake Rape Tour’ across Australian universities.
Earlier this month, a police operation took place outside the Charles Perkins’ Centre after an alleged offender, who had no connection to the University, entered University grounds with police in pursuit before being arrested.
Police were invited by the University onto campus during Friday prayers in the wake of the Christchurch massacre in March. The invite was given to Police after consultation with the Sydney University Muslim Students Association and the University’s Muslim Chaplain.
“We have increased our security measures during this week’s Friday prayers that are held in the prayer room based at Old Teachers College, as well as during the vigil for victims of the Christchurch attack taking place on Eastern Avenue this afternoon,” a spokesperson said at the time.