Published in The Australian on Friday 31st January 2020 by Remy Varga
Liberal senator Amanda Stoker has blasted the rejection of a stall application by the youth recruitment arm of a libertarian think tank as proof left-wing bias is rampant on university campuses.
Generation Liberty, which is the Institute of Public Affairs program for people under 25, had its application for a stall at Queensland University of Technology’s O-Week knocked back because the youth group’s “brand” did not align with the student union’s values, according to an email correspondence seen by The Australian.
Senator Stoker said the QUT Guild’s rejection of Generation Liberty was proof of left-wing bias, pointing to the fact that self-described “Trotskyist organisation” Socialist Alternative had a presence on campus. Socialist Alternative will have a stall at O-Week.
“If QUT want to develop students with the intellectual rigour to take on the world, they should start by allowing it on campus,” she said. “The anecdotal evidence I regularly hear about bias on uni campuses is proven real when the sensible, mainstream Generation Liberty isn’t allowed at O-Week, but the extremist Socialist Alternative have been allowed time and time again.”
Generation Liberty is not affiliated with a political party but aims to combat the “radical story” taught by universities through the promotion of the ideals of “free markets, individual responsibility, capitalism, and democracy”, according to its website.
Generation Liberty campus co-ordinator Chris Dekker said the decision was an attack on free speech. “Clearly, Generation Liberty's values of free speech are a step too far for QUT’s student guild,” he said. “This is all about crushing dissent and difference of opinion.”
QUT Guild president Olivia Brumm said while the student union decided on the stalls allowed at Market Week, the university selected the clubs and societies allowed at O-Week.
Ms Brumm said the guild’s executive had decided to move towards excluding politics from this year’s Market Week as most affiliated clubs and societies had applied to have stalls at O-Week instead.
“We wouldn’t have accepted applications from any external businesses that have a heavy political agenda or slant to them, it’s not the purpose of the week,” she said.
“We support our political clubs and societies.”
Ms Brumm said Socialist Alternative would have a stall this year as the revolutionary group had become an affiliated club, having previously set up shop during Market Week near the event but outside the area that the student union controlled.
She said the decision to move Market Week towards being focused on social and business stalls was not advertised.
“We didn’t make an active decision [but] the vast majority wanted to be at O-Week,” she said.
Ms Brumm described the allegations of censorship as “frankly absurd” and said Generation Liberty was welcome to apply to become an affiliated club.