CHARLES Sturt University (CSU) has taken decisive action against students who dressed as Nazi guards, Jewish concentration camp prisoners and Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members at a post-exam party last month.
The university has handed down a range of penalties from exclusion to suspension, in addition to requiring the students to complete an Indigenous Australian Cultures, Histories and Contemporary Realities subject as well as engage with Indigenous and Jewish communities.
At least one student has been banned for two years.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Andrew Vann said the images of the students, which were posted to social media site Instagram, resulted in global outrage and “deeply offended our Indigenous and Jewish communities”.
“As a university we will not tolerate or condone this behaviour, we will however work with students during their suspension to further educate them on the cultural impact of their actions,” he said.
“All students involved in the incident have shown remorse for their actions and been offered ongoing counselling and support.
“CSU has a strong stance against racism as outlined in our Anti-Racism Policy. I am satisfied that the outcomes of our investigation reflect this view.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff applauded the university’s action.
“The university has opted for a constructive response which combines an important punitive element with an equally important educational aspect,” he said. “The students crossed a line when they publicly mocked three of the most horrendous episodes in history, and the university has taken steps to ensure they understand the hurt they caused, while hopefully emerging from this episode as more culturally aware citizens.”
Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich welcomed the university’s decision to discipline the students and “to use this episode as a teachable moment”.
“This swift action sends a clear message that this kind of bigoted behaviour is totally unacceptable and comes with a cost,” he said.
“We hope that the students will now understand how much pain and offence their outrageous actions caused, and that by meaningfully engaging with the Jewish and Indigenous communities they will move forward in helping to repair the damage they are responsible for and meaningfully contribute towards the fight against prejudice.”