Student club at Auckland University punished for exercising freedom of expression now seeking legal advice
Media Release: ProLife Auckland 29 August 2017
After a week long process of online voting, the Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) has provisionally declared that it will be punishing the Auckland University student club Prolife Auckland by disaffiliating them from the AUSA.
This means that Prolife Auckland has been punished for holding and peacefully expressing legitimate ethical views simply because the AUSA disagrees with them.
Co-president of Prolife Auckland Jelena Middleton says that the outcome is “unjust, and legally dubious as it means that a group of students is being punished simply for exercising their legal right to peacefully express legitimate ethical views.”
“What makes this even more frightening is that it is happening at one of this country’s largest universities – which should be a place where diversity of thought is not only tolerated, but also actively fostered and protected.”
The AUSA ban means that Prolife Auckland will now have to pay for rooms and resources that were formerly provided freely to them as an affiliated club.
The club has also been informed that any application they now make for funding will be opposed by the AUSA on account of the new disaffiliated status imposed by the AUSA on Prolife Auckland.
“What makes this process all the more frightening is the total lack of transparency, and the clear violations of natural justice that it has entailed” says Middleton.
“The referendum process was enacted by a totally anonymous person, the question was vaguely worded, there have never been any grounds given for what prompted such a drastic action, and we were only given a few days to prepare and present our case before the voting opened.”
“It’s doubtful that such an unjust process and outcome would be tolerated in any other sector of a free and open society like New Zealand. We are now seeking legal advice about the legality of this action and how it may have breached the NZ Bill of Rights.”
“This is no longer about Prolife Auckland, this is now about the rights and freedoms of ALL Auckland University students to freely associate and peacefully express themselves without fear of arbitrary punishment from the AUSA for expressing views they might disagree with” says Middleton.
For all interviews and media enquiries please contact ProLife Auckland Media Officer Francesca Yuen on 022 380 7154, or email [email protected].