Cops on Campus

19 October 2018

Two plainclothes police officers allegedly asked for UniMelb apparel to “blend in and look more like students” at Union House in late July, according to a staffer of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU).

The staffer was closing the Information Centre when two men walked up asking for jumpers from lost-and-found. He then directed the men to the apparel stores on campus to purchase the items instead, as UMSU staffers are not allowed to give away merchandise items.

When asked why they wanted UniMelb apparel, the men allegedly stated that they were police officers and showed him their badges. The UMSU staffer also recollects seeing their tactical vests beneath their clothes and guns on their hips.

“They said that they’d be spending a few weeks around campus but didn’t specify their reasons why. The whole thing felt very bizarre, especially when they said they would just be ‘patrolling’ the campus and wanted to fit in more,” said the anonymous staffer.

“The fact that they’re trying to disguise themselves as students doesn’t feel like an act conducive to any ‘public safety’ justification that they could offer as explanation.”

The staffer confided in another anonymous UMSU staffer about the incident after it occurred. This was confirmed by messages exchanged between the two staffers, which were shown to Farrago.

Victoria Police could not confirm whether plainclothes officers were on campus at that time stating “One can speculate as to why they may have taken clothing but in light of any further information I’m afraid trying to find out which police attended would be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

“There would be no need for plain-clothed members to collect clothing so they can wear it to blend in. That simply does not make sense.”

Although the University has security officers patrolling the campus 24 hours a day, the men whom the staffer allegedly encountered had no UniMelb logo on their clothes which are usually worn by campus security officers.

A University of Melbourne spokesperson stated that there were no police officers on campus that day and if there was police presence, the University would have been notified beforehand.

The UMSU staffer remains concerned about the incident. “The University constantly prides itself on its multicultural and diverse identity, students should know when there is a police presence around them given the long history of police violence towards various minorities.”


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