It could be said that the University of Adelaide bollards are the metaphorical pillars upholding free speech on campus. Often, they are covered in promotional materials; fliers for bake sales, upcoming concerts, student protests, and activities of interest.
Recently, there has been an influx of racially motivated graffiti on campus, more specifically, in bathrooms, around the Hub and on the bollards. On Dit has been visiting the North Terrace campus after hours to document evidence of casualised hate speech. Students groups have also submitted and published their own sightings online.
Posters put up by students have been subject to vandalism in a vicious anonymous pen and sticker war. The graffiti marks are racially driven, anti-Semitic and can be interpreted as obscene in nature.
Adding further fuel to the fire, notorious online forum “Overheard at the University of Adelaide” has recently become a medium where casual transphobia has transpired in trending comment threads.
This is not the first time that racist behaviour has occurred on the North Terrace campus. In the past, there has been furore over the instalment of squat toilets in the Ingkarni Wardli building, reoccuring cases of anti-Semitic graffiti, and the Islamic Student Society at the University of Adelaide pulling an endorsement from a ticket at student union elections. All of these activities have taken place on the main campus. More recently in 2015, a Facebook page “The Notorious Sleeping International Students of Adelaide University” was shut down after a motion to disable the page was moved by the Student Representative Council and accepted by then President Renjie Du.
Jack Crawford, a member from the ‘Students Against Racism and Facism” group says that some have defended this hate speech on the nebulous grounds that it is somehow ironic. “As small as grafitti and stickers can seem, letting racists getting away with this without opposition means they will try to get away with more, and worst of all form organisations”. Crawford believes that anti-racist students should fight back with their own slogans to counter the Islamophobia and Nazism on campus.
The SRC Ethno-cultural officer, Ali Amin, was asked to comment on the recent rise of on-campus hate speech.
“Adelaide University is a multicultural campus and the SRC will not tolerate in any way racist expressions, discrimination and hatred. The use of a swastika symbol is a pretty clear statement that those responsible are motivated by blind hatred or are ignorant of the atrocities associated with it. The SRC is committed to ensuring students feel safe at university to carry out their education without feeling racially targeted. This is not an isolated incident — it is becoming a routine occurrence which is connected to a growing trend of prejudicially motivated material distributed both at university and more widely online. The university administration’s response remains unclear and lacking which I will seek to change.”
On Dit has learned that the Student Representative Council is currently in the process of designing anti-racism stickers to be distributed around campus. The elected student body are negotiating with university campus services to enable a ‘common time’ and more spaces for prayer rooms.