Drew Pavlou, 21, the Greek Australian student banned on Monday from setting foot on any University of Queensland campus, welcomed the sweeping review into whether or not universities are meeting national standards for freedom of speech in the face of several censorship controversies in higher education.
He welcomes the appointment of former Deakin University vice-chancellor Sally Walker who has been tasked with investigating whether universities are in alignment with the free speech code devised by former High Court chief justice Robert French.
The review will assess how universities respond to freedom-of-speech issues and if more action is needed by university leaders to protect academic freedoms. “I’ve felt hopeless at times during this long battle, but the Australian government’s announcement of a review into free speech at Australian universities in response to my case at UQ shows us we are actually winning this thing,” Mr Pavlou said on Friday in a Tweet.
On Monday, Mr Pavlou had received a series of emails outlining the conditions of his suspension which will run through to Friday, 13 November in accordance with the Student Misconduct and Integrity Policy. His semester-long suspension includes his automatic removal from his elected position at the UQ senate for which Mr Pavlou demands $35,000 for the senate salary from which he has been stripped – money he pledges to Uyghurs in need.
Mr Pavlou’s legal wrangles resulted from his outspoken criticism on social media and his organisation of a series of protests supporting the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. He had also highlighted the university’s links to China and had been a critic of the UQ’s Confucious Institute.
Following his suspension, Mr Pavlou has vowed to get an injuction at the Queensland Civil and Adminsitrative Tribunal and will take his case before the Queensland Human Rights Commission if necessary.