28 Aug 2017

AUSA cuts ties with ProLife Auckland

3:54 pm on 28 August 2017

University of Auckland students have voted to cut ties with a pro life group that operates on campus.


A group promoting anti-abortion views at the University of Auckland is no longer affiliated with the institution's student union. 

In a referendum last week, a 60 percent majority of Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) members voted to disaffiliate the group ProLife Auckland.

The results, released today, mean the group will no longer be listed by AUSA, will not be able to advertise in designated areas and will not be able to book student union rooms. 

It does not otherwise affect the group’s ability to remain active on campus. 

Almost 2700 AUSA members took part in the week-long online referendum, which ended last Friday. AUSA has a total membership of about 15,000. 

The referendum asked voters the question: “should AUSA disaffiliate the ProLife Club and ban any clubs with similar ideology from affiliating in the future?” 1609 people voted “yes”, 1034 (38 percent) voted “no” and 56 people (2 percent) did not respond to the question. 

The question was submitted by an AUSA member, and the results of the referendum are binding. 

However, the union is still waiting on advice relating to the legality question. In the meantime, results have been declared by AUSA as provisional. 

AUSA president Will Matthews called affiliation a “symbolic acknowledgement from students at the University of Auckland that they want their student community to be associated with a particular organisation.

“Clubs that are not affiliated by AUSA can still be recognised as legitimate student organisations, and are still eligible to access space and distribute information on campus, have a club stall at the University O-Week, and receive funding,” he said. 

“If the provisional results of the referendum are implemented, then the Pro-Life Club will still be recognised by the University of Auckland, and will still have access to all of these benefits.”

But in a flyer released by ProLife Auckland last week, organisers called disaffiliation “an affront on free speech.

“This directly punishes the club’s exercise of free speech… Just because the club is still able to meet in limited ways, does not mean its voice is not being suppressed. 

“Students must hear all sides on vitally important issues such as abortion and euthanasia.make no mistake, this is unequivocally about censoring voices based on ideology.”

Last week, AUT professor of history Paul Moon called the move to disaffiliate the group "appalling," saying it was wrong to punish a club if a person simply didn't like its point of view.