A special out of session senate meeting of the University of Queensland has decided to lift the two-year suspension on final-year student activist Drew Pavlou pending his appeal.
In a statement issued by the university it was decided at the meeting held on Friday, 5 June that: “Mr Pavlou remains an enrolled student and no action will be taken on his suspension while the appeal is being heard.”
“The appeal will be heard and decided by the Senate Disciplinary Appeals Committee (SDAC) which comprises Senate members as well as staff and student representatives.
“The appeal to the SDAC will be a new hearing. The committee has power to confirm, vary or set aside the decision of the disciplinary board,” the UQ statement said.
In the meeting, the senate noted that the issues of alleged misconduct and freedom of speech issues had “commingled in the media coverage of the case that made it difficult to untangle in public perceptions.”
It said that no student should be penalised for the “lawful expression personal political views.”
“Freedom of speech is a foundational value of the university as reflected in the Senate’s adoption of the model code on freedom of speech drafted by the former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. The Senate also noted that the Student Charter and its Student Integrity and Misconduct Policy sets out behavioural expectations of students of the University,” UQ said in the statement.
It noted that “On 2 June Mr Pavlou lodged an appeal against the decision of the disciplinary board. This is the next step for a disputed disciplinary decision.”
No date was set for the SDAC hearing. And efforts to contact Mr Pavlou for comment proved fruitless.
Meanwhile, in an article published on 8 June in the Global Times, a newspaper/website closely affiliated to the government of the People’s Republic of China, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, said in a press conference that a Ministry of Culture and Tourism travel alert on Friday, warning Chinese people not to travel to Australia, was based on adequate facts as Australia had “seen a spike in racial abuse toward Chinese and other Asians during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The Global Times reported that: “The Chinese government has always taken a responsible attitude and reminded Chinese nationals to take care of their own security, Hua noted.
“‘We also urge the Australian side to face up to the problem and take concrete measures to safeguard the safety and rights of Chinese in Australia,’ Hua said.”
The Global Times then focussed on Mr Pavlou in stating that : “In March, an anti China Australian rioter Drew Pavlou hung a sign on a wall at the University of Queensland’s Confucius Institute that said it was a COVID-19 ‘biohazard’ and uploaded a photo of it on Facebook.”
Mr Pavlou has said in the past that he was not “anti-China” but that he was opposed to the actions of the government of the PRC in relation to its treatment of the Uyghur minorities and the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. One of the UQ disciplinary charges levelled at Mr Pavlou related to the incident described by the Global Times.