University vice-chancellor acknowledges hurt caused by campus racism

8:12 pm on 7 October 2019

The Auckland University vice-chancellor has acknowledged the hurt that white supremacy has caused but says it's not his role to censor views expressed within the law.

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Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon sent an email to all staff this morning, saying he is opposed to discrimination in all its forms. Photo: VNP / Phil Smith

The university has had ongoing instances of white supremacist propaganda on its campus, which led to an open letter condemning the material.

Hundreds of staff signed the letter last week, declaring that racism and white supremacy have no place at the university.

The Vice Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, sent an email to all staff this morning, and said he was "utterly opposed to prejudice, discrimination and hate speech of any kind, including the kind that is characterised as 'white supremacy'."

But he did not believe it was his role to censor views that were within the law.

"Sometimes the free expression of conflicting views, even when done appropriately and within the law, may lead to some people feeling hurt or upset by those views," he said.

Mr McCutcheon stressed that he thought debates about free speech should be put to one side and the threat people at the university felt should be acknowledged.

"The most important matter right now is the very real hurt and sense of threat that some people in our university community (students and staff) feel in response to these expressions of white supremacist views.

"I acknowledge that hurt, and I have listened carefully to, and understood, the concerns of our people," he said.

Mr McCutcheon said it would be a good idea for the academic board to further discuss how to handle white supremacy and free speech.

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