ECU students protesting against political club ban ordered off campus

Students Tarryn Culverhouse, Lian Jenvey and Jess McLeod. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au   d443036
Students Tarryn Culverhouse, Lian Jenvey and Jess McLeod. Picture: Martin Kennealey        www.communitypix.com.au d443036

STUDENTS protesting against a policy prohibiting political groups were asked to leave the ECU Joondalup campus last month.

Protester Thomas Freeman said the ECU student guild banned the affiliation of political clubs, which he said was denying “the right to freedom of speech”.

“As an ECU student, I’m denied the right, by my own guild representatives, to politically organise with other students on campus,” he said.

“It means that I can’t hand out leaflets, set up a table to get petitions signed or engage with like-minded students. This is a denial of basic democratic rights.”

National Union of Students women’s officer Jess McLeod said the student guild was “supposed to encourage and facilitate student activities, not police them”.

Students took to the Joondalup campus on August 31 with megaphones, placards, leaflets and petitions calling for free speech.

“After receiving reports that their activities, which included the use of a loud hailer, were disrupting students and staff, ECU personnel requested the group in question leave the campus,” an ECU representative said.

“We do ask that external groups first seek permission from the university before visiting our campuses.”

The ECU student guild is funded by student services and amenities fees.

The federal Higher Education Support Act 2003 states these fees must not be used to support a political party or election of person to any form of government. Another protest was held at the Mt Lawley campus the following week.