Last week I came across a rather frightening article in the Australian Presbyterian, written six months ago by David Robertson, a Free Church minister, who was on sabbatical from Scotland to one of the colonies.
The whole article by Robertson about the decline of the West is an excellent read, but I will focus only on the reference he made with regards to “Revolutionary Tribunals” in a Sydney university and will quote from the Daily Telegraph source.
Students accused of sexual harassment at one of Sydney’s largest universities will be hauled before extrajudicial panels including two of their peers who will recommend if they should be expelled.
We’re off to a cracking start. Why the need for extrajudicial panels when the judicial courts are well equipped to deal with these matters?
According to the rules, “a university Student Conduct Committee is not bound by the rules of evidence and may inform itself on any matter it thinks fit”.
“Not bound by the rules of evidence.”
I had trouble believing this, so I searched through the Student Rules of the UTS and to my shock this quote appears not once, but twice! (UTC Student Rules Section 16.13.2 and 16.16.5.)
In an email to students this week, senior vice-president Andrew Parfitt told students University rules had been updated to include sexual assault and harassment and indecent assault, with “possible penalties including expulsion”. The UTS website states indecent assault “could include kissing”.
Extrajudicial panels, no evidence required, and vague charges. Sounds wonderful.
“This is an extra judicial proceeding, that is scary. This is like a revolutionary tribunal,” one student, who didn’t want to be named for fear of repercussions, told The Telegraph.
This is indeed the stuff of authoritarian nightmare.
All of this rang a little bell in my head and I remembered a story of a young Canadian woman, Lindsay Shepherd, who was pulled in for an extrajudicial hearing and threatened by staff from Wilfrid Laurier University after playing a Jordan Peterson video. (Jordan B Peterson is coming to NZ by the way, Auckland and Christchurch.)
She recorded the closed meeting where she was threatened with having her life ruined. These revolutionary tribunals must be not as uncommon as one would hope.
If these extrajudicial proceedings are not already embedded in New Zealand institutions of “higher learning”, you can be assured that they will be soon enough.