By Fiona Curtis
Last month, the Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) chose to disaffiliate from a Pro-Life Auckland club on campus, causing concern as to whether freedom of speech was being silenced on university campuses.
This followed a referendum, which was held over three days. The referendum asked Auckland University students whether they believed AUSA should disaffiliate from the Pro-Life Club and ban any clubs with similar ideology from affiliating in the future.
The poll received 2674 votes, with a 59.8 per cent majority in favour of the motion.
The disaffiliation of the Pro-Life Club has now reignited the debate on whether university campuses should encourage freedom of expression, or shield students from ideas they may not agree with.
Jenna Middleton, co-president of Pro-Life Auckland, says it is worrying that AUSA would try and silence the group.
“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.”
In a comment on AUSA’s Facebook page, Pro-Life advocate Brendan Malone says ethical issues should have nothing to do with student associations.
“Surely the AUSA is not actually meant to be taking sides on ethical issues that have nothing to do with the work of the AUSA?”
Massey’s Manawatu campus has a ProLife club. In a statement to Massive Magazine the club says it is important student association’s remain unbiased.
“Claiming that a pro-life group made up of students doesn’t represent students is inaccurate; a student union is meant to be unbiased in representing all its student groups.
“Disaffiliation is a symbol that opposing views are unwelcome.”
In a statement AUSA says it has not and will not express an opinion regarding the subject.