Uni does deal with extremists

The deal reportedly allows SUMSA and Hizb ut-Tahrir-affiliated StudentsforPalestineAus to nominate a representative to working group that will examine USYD's investment policies

Photo: AAP Image/Dean Lewins
Photo: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

An agreement between the University of Sydney (USYD) and the Sydney University Muslim Students Association (SUMSA) to fully disclose USYD’s academic ties with other institutions has been condemned as “appeasement”.

The deal reportedly allows SUMSA and Hizb ut-Tahrir-affiliated StudentsforPalestineAus to nominate a representative to working group that will examine USYD’s investment policies

SUMSA shared its compact with USYD on Instagram last week in a post that included Stand4PalestineAus, whose ties to Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir were exposed on Nine’s 60 Minutes.

And pressure is mounting on Education Minister Jason Clare to hold an inquiry into when USYD became aware of Hizb ut-Tahrir infiltration of its campus, amid reports vice-chancellor Mark Scott’s chief of staff was alerted on May 6.

Hizb ut-Tahrir expressed jubilation after the October 7 slaughter of Israelis and called for Muslim nations to destroy Israel. Its Australian arm organised a post-October 7 ‘day of pride’ in Lakemba in Sydney’s west.

But prompted by The AJN, Clare did not respond directly on the deal. More generally, he stated, “There is no place for the poison of antisemitism or any sort of racism in our universities or anywhere else.

“That’s why I have asked the Race Discrimination Commissioner to examine the prevalence and impact of racism, including antisemitism, at universities and make recommendations to the government about how we can ensure a safe environment for students.”

Human-rights lawyer Stewart Levitt, a senior partner in Sydney legal firm Levitt Robinson, which is launching a class action against USYD on behalf of Jewish students next month, said the deal “only causes us to redouble our efforts”.

Levitt said the government needs to demand full disclosure of funding ties at tertiary institutions, which “make themselves continually attractive to foreign investors”. US and British universities “have received very substantial funding from Saudi and Islamist organisations and there’s always strings attached”.

Liberal MP Julian Leeser called Scott’s SUMSA deal “a terrible capitulation”.

Two academics in 5A, Associate Professor Andy Smidt of Southern Cross University and Dr Sarah Aamidor of USYD, stated, “The decision to capitulate to a mob of protesters with alleged links to a terrorist organisation is outrageous. It is dangerous and sets a precedent that those who shout loudest will win. Further, this deal was struck behind closed doors.”

A University of Sydney spokesperson said, “Our Senate makes decisions about university investments. We have committed to establishing an inclusive working party with an independent chair to examine our investments in the defence and security industries. We had previously agreed to representation from the Jewish community on the working party and agreed that SUMSA could also be represented. The working party will report to the Senate, but any final decisions rest there.

“Our proposal emphasises transparency around partnerships and does not include a review of our research partnerships, including those with our valued defence and security industry partners. We are not cutting ties with Israel, Israeli universities or Israeli companies.  Any suggestions that the working group members will have access to sensitive information are incorrect.”


read more: