Monday, 19 May 2014

THE OZ 19/5: Anti-Semitism at unis not on, warns Christopher Pyne

Anti-Semitism at unis not on, warns Christopher Pyne

UNIVERSITY authorities must move swiftly to tackle reports of racism on campus, Education Minister Christopher Pyne has warned.
The start of the academic year was marred by alleged anti-Semitic incidents at four of the nation’s top tertiary institutions — the Australian National University, Monash, Adelaide and the University of New South Wales.
Two months on the ANU and Monash allegations remain unresolved, despite official complaints being lodged at the time.
Both alleged incidents involve claims of verbal abuse.
“Students at university have the right to study and socialise without being intimidated or singled out,” Mr Pyne said yesterday. “Anti-Semitism in all forms has no place in Australia and our universities must act quickly to address any incidents on campus.”
Matthew Lesh, the political affairs director of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students, described the alleged incidents as “vicious and worrying”.
“Though isolated and minimal in scope, it is important that universities respond strongly against any signs of hatred on campus,” he said. “Slow investigations and a lack of response to these activities is unacceptable.”
The ANU arranged a meeting between Professor Richard Baker, the pro-vice-chancellor for student experience, and the complainants in the wake of the episode there where, amongst other claims, one student was alleged abused as a “filthy Jew” by members of the group Socialist Alternative.
A spokeswoman for the university said the matter remained unresolved but added “the investigation is ongoing with the recent cooperation of the Socialist Alternative.”
Monash University did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
In a March letter to vice-chancellor Ed Byrne AUJS representatives wrote “We are now at a point in time where a large number of Jewish students feel uncomfortable and unsafe from vilification on campus’’.
The number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Australia in 2013 hit the second highest level on record, according to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry.

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