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Sydney Uni establishes French Review Implementation Group

The Group is reportedly favouring an approach which sees the proposed code embedded into existing university policy

The cover of the review, which reads: "Report of the independent review of freedom of speech in australian higher education providers, March 2018"

Last week, the University of Sydney established a group tasked with implementing the recommendations of the French Review into free speech, released in April of this year.

The group, which includes various prominent figures from around the university, including SRC President Jacky He and outgoing St Paul’s warden Don Markwell, will present an initial report to Vice Chancellor Michael Spence outlining how best to implement the recommendations made by the former Chief Justice.

The report, done at the behest of Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan, found that there is no real threat to freedom of speech on university campuses, but nonetheless recommended the implementation of a model code for the protection of free speech and academic freedom.

The model code supports “reasonable and proportionate measures to prevent any person from using lawful speech which a reasonable person would regard […] as likely to humiliate or intimidate other persons” but “does not extend to a duty to protect any person from feeling offended or shocked or insulted by the lawful speech of another.”

It remains to be determined whether the model will be implemented in its entirety, overriding existing policies, or embedded into the current model.

Jacky He informed Honi that at the first meeting of the Implementation Group, the latter option appeared more popular, however, minutes from the meeting indicate that he was absent.

The news comes weeks after one University student was suspended for orchestrating a protest against far right speaker Bettina Arndt in September last year, an incident which enraged many conservative commentators and is often cited as a principal impetus for the launch of the review.

The Implementation Group’s recommendation will be presented to Spence in September.