O-Week Confrontation between ANZ and Activists

Student activists protesting in front of the ANZ O-Week stall were asked to move on or be removed from campus, according to several accounts of the incident received by Tharunka.

The activists were attempting to raise awareness of ANZ’s investment in the coal industry on Wednesday February 22, before ANZ staff members complained to FM Assist.

Members of SNP Security, the private security company contracted out by the university, asked the activists to leave the vicinity of the stall as they were alleged to have been interrupting its functioning. In the afternoon, student Else Kennedy, independent of SRC representatives, returned to the stall and continued to hand out the fliers. At this stage she was told she may have breached the Student Conduct Policy.

Tara Murphy, Acting Security Manager at UNSW, said Ms. Kennedy’s freedom of speech as a student on campus was not being violated by the fact that it was requested that the leaflets be solely handed out in at the Environmental Collective stall, “ANZ staff felt that their stall was disrupted significantly and this behaviour caused them to pack up their stand and leave. We understand that students have a right to peaceful protest, Else was not told she could not protest but simply asked to move away from the ANZ stand.”

Ms. Murphy cites Page 6, Annexure A of the UNSW Student Policy, as the authority upon which SNP Security were called to act. This states that students must “not engage in behaviour that is perceived to be threatening or intimidating or causes any person to fear for their personal safety or well-being” and “not behave in a way that disrupts or interferes with any teaching or academic activity of the University or any political, cultural, social or sporting gathering conducted by the University or authorised to be held on a campus of the University.”

ANZ told Tharunka their staff had merely informed Arc, and had not called security themselves.

Cameron McPhedran