UofA Students Commit to Stand Against Racism
Words By Nicholas Birchall
Yesterday (the 13th of Feb), students, led by Student Representative Council (SRC) members Ahmed Azhar (Environmental Officer) and Ben Foster (General Councillor), set up a stall in Hub Central in a commitment to stand against what is being perceived as a racist travel ban for those travelling from China to Australia.
These bans imposed by the Australian Government currently forbid Chinese nationals from entering Australia. This is affecting thousands of students who are currently seeking to return to University following the Summer break. The National Union of Students (NUS) are currently running a campaign led by NUS Ethnocultural Officer Vinil Kumar, advocating against these bans. This campaign has also been endorsed by the National Tertiary Education Union.
76 photos were taken in solidarity, with over 100 staff and students, including Martin McCarron, faculty executive manager of EC&MS, committing to stand against racism in the wake of the Coronavirus that is affecting thousands worldwide.
Mr McCarron, along with Deputy Vice Chancellor Pascale Questor, have led the University’s response to the outbreak, and are currently investigating ways to minimise academic impact upon returning students.
SRC President Henry Armfield also attended the event, stood in solidarity with returning students.
“The Coronavirus humanitarian crisis has sparked abhorrent racism against Chinese and Asian people. Now is the time to show solidarity with those who have been affected. I applaud Ben Foster and Ahmed Azhar from the SRC, and NUS Ethnocultural Officer Vinil Kumar for organising this campaign which is sending the message loud and clear; Chinese students are welcome here! If the University is serious about supporting our students in their absolute time of need, they should provide financial backing to the AUU’s student care emergency loan service. When travel resumes, flights out of China will be the most expensive in the world, landlords will be ready to either demand unpaid rent or hike rates to recover profits, and Chinese students will once again be exploited. This is an opportunity to practice the community which the University preaches.”
-Henry Armfield, SRC President.
Mr Armfield also commented that further responses from the SRC would occur when the council convenes later this month.
AUU President Stella Woo did not attend the event, but when asked for comment on the AUU’s planned response offered the following:
“We are taking a more active approach to assist the affected students. Student Care is providing assistance with rent and living costs if needed due to the quarantine requirements which causes some of them not being able to work. I have been working with the university ensuring classes are online for the first two weeks. We are also working to having an ‘O’day’ to compensate those who cannot attend O’Week. I am also working with the CSA [Chinese Student’s Association] which we have set up a WeChat group for affected students. Critical information is currently being passed along the WeChat group. Close communications with the University is also established with the affected students. We have also ensured hand sanitisers are installed around university for the use of students and staff.”
- Stella Woo, AUU President.
Ms Woo also commented that the AUU is currently working on several other initiatives that will be made public at a later date.
The NUS will continue their campaign nationally. If you would like to be part of the campaign, you can find a link to their Facebook page here.