UniGate Week 6 – Class action filed against Lynch, PolSoc stacked, USU hosts cultural sensitivity forum

Shurat up a ya face

The Australian Human Rights Commission has terminated a class action filed against Sydney University academic, Professor Jake Lynch, for his involvement in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement on campus.  The action was filed by Israeli based civil rights group, Shurat HaDin, who stated that Lynch’s involvement in the BDS movement, specifically his denial of a professor from Hebrew University to use his name on an application under a fellowships program between both institutions, was unlawful under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of Shurat HaDin, told the Gate that the case was terminated by the AHRC because Lynch was absent at the commission’s hearing.  As a result, they have decided to take the case to the Federal Court.  The University administration has stated that they will not provide legal assistance to Lynch and his associates.  Thus, they are circulating a petition to support the BDS movement and to be named a co-defendant to Lynch and Rees when the matter goes to court.


Well, I guess I stacked it well!

Last Thursday saw the stacking of the Politics Society (PolSoc). 20-30 Liberal Club (SULC) members, associated with the soft-right of the Liberal Party, forced Board Director Robby Magyar to call the meeting invalid. PolSoc is, ironically, not often politicised, usually failing to make quorum. The club, not expecting many attendants, chose a room with a limit of 15, and the attendance of 50 broke the OH&S requirements of the room, meaning that the meeting could not legally continue. The Presidential contest – which can only include candidates from the previous year’s executive – was between Joel Schubert, a moderate Liberal, and Mariam George, associated with the soft- and hard-right. Many of the other positions were contested by SULC members. Natasha Burrows, current President of PolSoc, lamented that “it’s a shame if a society that has prided itself in being independent is the target of vested political interests.”

It appears as though the saga involves factional tensions that go way up to the Big Liberals. Alex Dore, eternal President of SULC, attended the meeting, but claimed the charge of stacking is a “totally hysterical and fanciful charge,”and that the presence of SULC members – most of whom nominated for positions on the day – was not an overrepresentation but due to their continued interest in the Politics Society. Mariam George notes that she’s “not a member of SULC,” but that she is a member of the hard-right Conservative Club, and that the presence of SULC was not intended, but incidental. However, the hard-right has been known to be cosying up to the soft-right recently against the moderate faction. Also, George, perhaps unknowingly, stated that: “If 18 people came to support me without me organising it, I guess that’s called support, but if people want to say I’ve stacked it, well, I guess I stacked it well!”

The Gate received an anonymous email from a member of the soft-right who addressed it to “whoever the fuck does Unigate” that seems to confirm suspicions that the stack was politically motivated, in that Alex Dore and the soft right hate Schubert. However, it seems as though George was unaware of the stack, and Chaneg Torres and Dean Schahar, members of the hard-right and nominators for positions on PolSoc, backed her solely to oppose Schubert. This is allegedly a break from national politics, where the soft-right and moderate Liberals are teaming up to “fuck the Taliban [hard-right]”.

We’re sceptical of the veracity of anything we hear in an anonymous email from Liberals stacking a society, but in any case, PolSoc is having another AGM in two weeks, so whether or not a re-stack occurs, or if the usual barely-made quorum occurs, remains to be seen.

Race to the top?

The USU has followed up on its promise to address accusations of racial insensitivity with a Cultural Sensitivity Forum held last Tuesday. The forum consisted of a panel of academics and students, and followed the Union’s Critical Race Discussion forum, which attempted to further understand the cultural intricacies that were, to put it lightly, ignored in the Day of the Dead Party, later renamed Start of Semester Fiesta. USU President Hannah Morris believes the forum was a “step in the right direction.” However, panellist Oscar Monaghan criticised the format of the panel at the forum as “reinforcing knowledge hierarchies” in a statement that was later transcribed into a blog post. Monaghan and Tabitha Prado-Richardson – the other student panellist – did however appreciate the intentions of the USU in starting a dialogue surrounding matters of race within USU programs and events. The forum was generally without significant controversy, save for a scandal that emerged when @USU_Access reprimanded the Gate for using the hashtag #usuforum instead of #usucsf. Sorry, we genuinely didn’t see the giant event hashtag on the projector screen, our bad.

Honi Soit
Honi Soit is the largest and oldest weekly student newspaper in Australia. Our articles, like this one, are made possible by our dedicated student reporters and contributors.
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