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Victoria University attempts to Silence Dissent

November 21, 2011

Victoria University attempts to Silence Dissent

VUW are attempting to intimidate and punish students at Victoria University for engaging in a peaceful and legal occupation, the ‘Box University’ held on the 13th of October.

The Occupation was held to raise awareness at the damage being done to VUW by its senior management and the determined attempts by VUW to silence any voice of opposition, whether staff or student.

"It was an interactive and creative 24 hour protest, I think that it and the reaction of the university really emphasises the disconnect between staff and students on one hand and senior management" says student Bronte Jefferies.

Although occupations are recognised by the University itself as a legitimate form of political expression and with the University having given no actual request that the occupation leave. Letters have been sent out to some students who were involved, but not all.

"We took part in a group protest, we did nothing wrong, we were demonstrating our right to express our views, something that should be defended in any context, let alone at the university, the supposed ‘conscience of society" says student Kassie Hartendorp.

Individual students have been notified of meetings, with some students given meetings during their actual exams. Requests to engage in a group based Tikanga Māori Process to facilitate discussion between Management and WATU has been declined.

"They’ve waited a month to begin this process, then they try to pick us off one-by-one for taking part in a protest that broke no rules, except the unspoken one that VUW seem to have, "don’t do anything that contradicts us or makes us look bad" says Jefferies.

VUW have designated four days on which groups of up to four WATU members can be interrogated by Management. WATU has agreed to attend the Tuesday 22nd of November 11:30am-12:30am time suggested by VUW management as a group.

We Are The University (WATU) was formed in opposition to the policies and actions of Victoria University of Wellington Senior Management, undermining and attacking the conditions and quality of tertiary education provision at VUW. VUW have a long history of attempting to repress and silence views that challenge their own.

ENDS

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