<p>Content warning: racism, anti-semitism, homophobia</p>
<p>BREAKING: Two men have been escorted off Parkville campus for allegedly harassing students and handing out flyers saying “it’s okay to be white” at the Baillieu Library.</p>
Content warning: racism, anti-semitism, homophobia
Today, on the first day of semester, two men were escorted off Parkville campus by campus security for allegedly harassing students and handing out flyers saying “it’s okay to be white” at the Baillieu Library.
“I noticed them handing out what appeared to be white supremacy leaflets saying ‘it’s okay to be white’ and they were accosting people, particularly people of colour, saying ‘do you think it’s okay to be white?’” said University of Melbourne research assistant Geraldine Fela.
“At one point they homophobically abused me,” Fela added. Fela’s friend Daniel Cotton, who was also at the Baillieu Library, said that one of them called him a “faggot”.
“It’s really scary for us on campus to be seeing people who have the guts to come around and hand out this stuff,” Cotton said.
University of Melbourne student Molly Willmott said that when she heard about what was happening she went to the Baillieu Library to “go kick a Neo-Nazi off campus”.
“We were talking to one of the members of Socialist Alternative [at the Baillieu] and one of the Neo-Nazis asked her if she was white or Jewish and when she responded with Jewish he spat on the ground in front of her,” she said.
“We went up to the [student representative] offices trying to get anyone we could to come down.”
Willmott said that security came and told them to leave, but instead they moved from the Baillieu and sat in Deakin Court, outside of Union House.
Here, a group of 15–20 students and staff, including University of Melbourne Student Union office bearers, approached the men and asked them to leave. At this point, one of the men, who Willmott believes was a student at the University, left. According to Willmott, he was concerned that the University would terminate his enrolment.
The students and staff began chanting to the remaining man, “Jews are welcome, racists are not,” and, “Sexist, racist, anti-queer—Nazis are not welcome here.”
Eventually, campus security returned and escorted him off campus.
Mindi Suter, the campus representative for the National Union of Students, has organised a speak-out in response to the events of today, for students “to get involved with an anti-racist campaign on campus”. You can read her letter to the editor here.
The Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) also expressed their disappointment to Farrago.
“AUJS is deeply concerned by these events, especially as it is the third consecutive year of anti-Semitic activity on university campuses, during the first weeks of classes,” said Noa Bloch, the national political affairs director of AUJS, and Saul Burston, the national chairperson.
“2017 saw anti-Semitism rise by 9.5 per cent and therefore, AUJS is committed to collaborating with universities and the National Union of Students to create a campus environment where Jews and all minorities feel safe and protected,” they said.
A University spokesperson told Farrago that campus security is currently investigating the events.