Thursday, September 06, 2018

Australia: Sydney University ‘puts price on free speech’

The Sydney University Liberal Club says vice-chancellor ­Michael Spence has “put a price block” on free speech after he refused to foot the bill for security at an event featuring controversial conservative Bettina Arndt.


As universities face dealing with protesters intent on shutting down speaking events, the club faces a bill of almost $500 to cover security for the event next week.

Ms Arndt, a prominent sex therapist and author, is on a ­national tour. Her talk, “Is there a rape crisis on campus?”, seeks to debunk claims universities are a hotbed of sexual assault.

Club president Jack O’Brien wrote to Dr Spence on August 24, asking for the university to waive security costs for the public event as a sign of support for controversial discussions on campus. He cited La Trobe University’s decision to cover security costs for Ms Arndt to address its Liberal Club in support of free speech.

Dr Spence declined, saying the Liberal Club would be treated the same as every other club that had to pay for security.

Yesterday, Mr O’Brien ­accused Dr Spence of hypocrisy for outwardly welcoming free speech but lumping students stoking debate with the costs of security to deal with protesters.

“It’s just hypocritical for Dr Spence to talk about the importance of free speech yet be so willing to put a price block on conservative students having events,” he said. “He’s being held hostage by the politically correct, and it’s as if he’s happy to financially shut us down.”

The club also faces a $150 room booking charge, and will charge $5 entrance. Mr O’Brien said the event would go ahead.

A spokeswoman for Dr Spence said the club’s treatment was consistent with all other clubs and societies on campus when there was a protest threat.

“We recognise that one of the fundamental roles of the university is to be a place where ideas can be freely discussed, including those that some may view as controversial,” she said.

“As such, the Sydney University Liberal Club has been approved to host a talk by Bettina Arndt next week ­addressing campus culture.”



Stan B said...

"Security Costs" are a way of introducing a "heckler's veto" to events that generate massive histrionics on one side (mostly lefties) or the other. If enough rabble-rousers can make a ruckus that requires "increased security," and the organizers (not the rabble rousers) are stuck with the bill, they can make the cost of "free speech" prohibitively high. This has been going on in America for several years - c.f. antifa and BLM.

Leftist college administrations are more than happy to pass these costs on to the right leaning groups, as it discourages true diversity of the only thing that really matters - ideas.

The only solution is to radically increase fines on people who intentionally disrupt speaking events - the actual reason security costs are so high. A $500 fine on each individual disrupting a speaking event would be such an option....

Spurwing Plover the fighting shorebird said...

Of course they call it THE LIBERAL CLUB because Liberals want all conservatives silenced because Liberals are Socialists under a different name

Anonymous said...

Agree Stan.
The obvious solution is for the right to become as hysterical as the left.
That will mean security is required for ALL campus events - so the $500 will become a standard charge.