The Institute of Public Affairs has secured a victory in the fight for freedom of speech on campus. Today, the Queensland University of Technology Student Guild made an unreserved apology for its actions in refusing to allow Generation Liberty to participate at a QUT event in 2020 because of its ‘values’.
“This is a win for every student who fears being silenced because of their political beliefs,” said QUT student and IPA Campus Coordinator Chris Dekker.
“This apology sets a precedent for all student associations at Australian universities that they cannot ban and censor organisations such as IPA Generation Liberty,” said Mr Dekker.
In January 2020 Mr Dekker’s application to book a stall on behalf of Generation Liberty at QUT’s Market Day event was rejected because a committee of the QUT Student Guild decided ‘your brand does not align with our values.’ A claim was subsequently lodged with the Queensland Human Rights Commission in February 2020 that the Guild engaged in unlawful direct discrimination against Mr Dekker because of his political beliefs.
“This shows that mainstream Australians who believe in freedom of speech on campus can fight back and can win. This is just the first in what will be many, many victories,” said Renee Gorman, National Manager of Generation Liberty.
In June 2021 the Institute of Public Affairs lodged a claim with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission that the Monash Student Association’s decision to exclude Generation Liberty from a Monash University campus event in January 2021 was unlawful under the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act 2010.
“Universities and student associations now know that students will not stand by and be silenced without a fight,” said Mrs Gorman.
Previous research by the IPA identified that campus censorship is supported only by a small minority of university students. A survey commissioned by the IPA and conducted by market research company Dynata in 2019 of 500 domestic Australian university students found that only 2% of students disagreed with the statement that they should be exposed to different views, even if those views were challenging or offensive.
By censoring Generation Liberty, the QUT Guild was siding with the 2%.