TODAY 28 February: LifeChoice Sydney, a pro-life student club affiliated with the University of Sydney Student Union (USU), has been the target of bullying and vandalism which sets a worrying precedent for free speech on campus.
The club’s Oweek stall was vandalised overnight, with some persons or groups having torn down the booth provided by the USU as part of the opening week of the academic year.
Stickers and graffiti had also been scrawled across the stall, with statements such as “political free speech is bullshit if it extends to arseholes”, as well as other obscene and abusive words.
The trashing of the stall comes a day after a student had already vandalised the club’s banner by sticking a label sponsored by the SRC Women’s Collective. Due to the adhesive on the stickers, the club’s banner was ruined and will now have to be replaced.
“This is shocking and unacceptable behaviour”, said LifeChoice president Rebecca Elias. “LifeChoice is about engaging in rational discussion. It’s very disappointing to see people resort to bullying and vandalism to express their point of view. “
“We have online forums; we have our stall here all week for people to come talk to us; and yet none of these people bothered to speak to us straight-up about their problems.”
“It’s terrible to think that the perpetrators could be members of our own Women’s Collective – given that half of LifeChoice’s membership are women who have now been victimised for expressing their ethical views”.
Lara Early, a student who was staffing the LifeChoice stall, says “I am very concerned about the safety of myself and my friends on the stall”.
“I think this is a serious problem for the university and our union – what kind of message does this send for new students? I don’t feel safe on my own campus.”
LifeChoice intends to lodge a formal complaint to the university and with the USU, and Ms Elias calls for all students to condemn any form of attacks against free speech on campuses.