8 May 2019

Vice chancellor stands by 'nonsense' claim over white supremacy

7:40 pm on 8 May 2019

Auckland University's vice chancellor has agreed to tackle discrimination on campus, but he's standing by an earlier statement that a growing white supremacist movement is "utter nonsense".

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Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon says he is yet to see any evidence that white supremacy is a problem at Auckland University. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

Today, the university's Students' Association released a six-page report into bullying, harassment and discrimination on campus.

The report was compiled after the association met with about 80 university students and staff to discuss their fears last week.

It found some students experience systemic and pervasive hate at the university.

"Many spoke about the emerging presence of white supremacists and what they considered to be the university's implicit tolerance of white supremacy through their lack of action to intervene and to properly enforce the university's stated mantle of zero tolerance to bullying, discrimination and harassment," the report said.

It recommends the university establish a working group to prevent discrimination and affirm it has zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination.

University Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon has agreed to implement the changes. But he said he was yet to see any evidence to suggest white supremacy was an issue on campus.

"Until I see evidence to the contrary, I have to form a view about whether widespread white supremacy is actually in existence.

"It is a claim that is damaging to the university and I don't have any evidence that it is true."

The university hadn't received many complaints of white supremacist behaviour on campus, but often those situations go unreported because people fear making complaints, Professor McCutcheon said.

"We don't know the extent to which comments of the kind that are being complained about or are causing concern are actually being expressed in the university."

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