Security officers physically prevented University of Wollongong undergraduate student Chloe Rafferty from entering the Communications Building on campus on Wednesday morning.
A number of police officers were also in attendance as the well-known student union activist and her Save Our Union supporters tried to distribute leaflets to lecturers and Academic Senate members.
‘’It has been an intimidating morning. Having so many security guards and police around campus is very unusual,’’ Rafferty said.
Rafferty was ousted from the presidency of the Wollongong Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) for ‘’contravening the Election Code of Conduct by campaigning in classrooms before and during the election period and after being warned by the Returning Officer not to do so’’.
‘’I go into this building every day during semester and have never been asked to show my student ID,’’ Rafferty said.
‘’I was also asked by the head of security if my name was Chloe Rafferty. When I replied yes, he said ‘Chloe Rafferty you are not welcome here today’.
‘’We emailed the Academic Senate in advance to let them know we wanted their help.
‘’We are not here to protest them, we are here to appeal to them.
It has been an intimidating morning. Having so many security guards and police around campus is very unusual.Chloe Rafferty
‘’We are here to say as staff members who respect students and respect student democracy and free speech on campus, we would really like you to help us in our campaign to stand up for student democracy and to reinstate myself as the democratically elected [WUSA] president.’’
Rafferty said fellow Save Our Union member Isabelle Liddy was also physically denied entry into the building.
Security also removed WUSA general representative Olivia Pierson from the building for attempting to speak to members of the Academic Senate.
I was elected to represent student interests and political views...but they called the cops and had security blockade the doors...Olivia Pierson
‘’I was elected to represent student interests and political views...but they called the cops and had security blockade the doors to prevent half a dozen students from speaking to their lecturers about student democracy,’’ Pierson said.
A UOW spokesperson said UOW security attended the Communications Centre (Building 20) on Wednesday morning for several events.
‘’UOW Security was also aware of plans by some students to conduct a protest activity in the vicinity of the building,’’ the spokesperson said.
‘’The University allows students to protest in the shared public areas, but does not allow protest or campaign activities to disrupt the operations of the university by being conducted inside teaching, meeting or work places.
‘’At all times, UOW security staff dealt respectfully with all students involved in today’s protest, including those seeking to conduct protest activities inside the building.’’
UOW also routinely informs police of activities happening on campus, but the ‘’Local Area Command makes its own operational determinations about what resources, if any, are allocated to assist the University.’’