Student encampment protest FAQs

13 Jun 2024

Please note the University does not publicly comment on disciplinary matters.

Academic freedom and freedom of speech

 

Is ANU committed to free speech?

Yes. The University’s policies guarantee academic freedom and freedom of speech, allowing all students and staff to express their views in accordance with Australian law and our codes of conduct. ANU has a long history of student activism.

Staff and students are able to freely assemble, protest and make their voices heard. Any protest at ANU must be conducted safely and respectfully, without causing harm or damage to our campus or community.

Encampment and protest overview

 

Why is the University allowing the protest to take place?

ANU is committed to free speech and academic freedom and has a long history of student activism.

All students and staff are entitled to exercise their right to free speech and protest at ANU, as long as this is in accordance with Australian law, the University’s code of conduct and is safe for our entire campus and community.

Staff and student codes of conduct are available online.

Why did ANU direct participants to immediately leave the previous encampment site?

The encampment in Kambri occupied the primary emergency evacuation site for people living in, visiting, and using Kambri. This includes a student residence for 400 students, major teaching and study areas, a medical centre, a gym and swimming pool, a cultural centre accommodating 1,000 visitors, and businesses open to the public.

While ANU had earlier identified an alternative evacuation point to service this highly used and heavily-populated area of campus since the encampment’s inception, a recent real-time fire evacuation exercise found this alternative location is not only unsuitable but potentially dangerous.

During a fire alarm evacuation of the residential hall and the Cultural Centre in Kambri, the alternate assemble area failed. This failure and unacceptable risk to health and safety was immediately reported by relevant University authorities and investigated accordingly.

On the basis of this investigation, ANU has deemed the situation an intolerable risk to students, staff, and wider public, and has taken immediate action to remove this risk.

Read more about the direction and why the University has given this direction to participants at our statement here. You can also read the Order to Vacate notice issued on 27 May 2024.

Did the University offer the encampment participants an alternative site?

Yes.

We understand the directive order on 27 May may have caused inconvenience, however the safety of our University community is our top priority.

The University has identified two other locations for peaceful protest that respects the safety of all of our community.

These locations include the grassed area at the end of University Avenue near the North Road junction, or alternatively on the lawns at the front of the Chancelry building. As of 28 May, the encampment participants have moved their protest site to an alternative venue on University Avenue, near the AD Hope Building. ANU has provided options for protestors to continue their protests in ways that are respectful and safe for the entire University community and campus.

Can students still protest about the ongoing conflict in Gaza and Israel?

Yes. The University is willing to keep working with students to exercise their right to free speech and protest in ways that are appropriate for our campus, and which also ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone on our campus.

Part of being a staff or student member of the community is upholding the values and our shared responsibility to foster a a campus which is inclusive of everyone.

Students are still able to protest about the ongoing conflict in Gaza and Israel, and ANU continues to facilitate protests on this issue in ways that are appropriate for our campus and which ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community.

Why has ANU taken disciplinary action against some student protestors?

ANU does not comment on specific disciplinary matters.

However, the University can confirm it has a number of disciplinary inquiries currently under way for alleged behaviour or speech that contravenes our values as a community, and which go against our codes of conduct.

ANU takes these matters seriously and provides procedural fairness and support for all students.

If our codes of conduct, student discipline rule or values as a community are found to have been breached appropriate action will be taken by ANU.

ANU is a place of respectful debate and we are proud of our long history of student political engagement.

All staff and students are free to express themselves and protest in line with the University's Academic Freedom and Freedom of Speech policies.

With these rights come responsibilities.

Student responsibilities are clearly outlined in the Student Code of Conduct and the Discipline Rule.

As members of the ANU community, we uphold our core values including safety and wellbeing, inclusion and accountability.

Kambri and evacuation point issue

 

How many people use Kambri?

Fenner Hall is home to more than 450 students who rely on the Kambri lawn as their primary spot to safely gather during any emergency. There are approximately 200 ANU staff working in the precinct, including the Di Riddell and the Health and Wellbeing buildings, who also rely on the Kambri lawn for any emergency.

Kambri is also adjacent to the Chifley Library, which operates 24/7 and provides more than 640 study spaces. These spaces operate at full capacity in peak periods, including at the end of semester and exams, which are now taking place at ANU.

The University also calculates that during our end of semester exam period there will be 73,600 student movements in and out of the campus during the coming exam period, many of them through Kambri precinct and using rooms in buildings in Kambri for examinations.

Why didn’t the University identify an alternative evacuation point?

The University quickly identified an alternative evacuation point for Kambri as soon as the encampment was established.

However, a recent real-time fire evacuation of Fenner Hall found this alternative location is not only unsuitable but potentially dangerous.

The failure of the identified evacuation point in Kambri and the unacceptable risk this posed to health and safety was immediately reported by relevant University authorities and investigated accordingly.

On the basis of this investigation, ANU has deemed the current situation an intolerable risk to students, staff, and wider public, and has taken immediate action to remove this risk.

Has the Kambri lawns been reinstated as the precinct's primary evacuation point?

Yes.

The vacant Kambri lawn is once again the primary evacuation point for the Kambri precinct.

We have communicated this update to the members of our community based in the precinct.

Security and safety 

 

What security measures are in place to keep our campus safe?

The University has invested in additional security measures, including personnel and patrols, to monitor the encampment and ensure everyone on our campus is safe.

How do I contact ANU Security?

Please call UniSafe team on 02 6125 2249.

ANU staff and students can also request a UniSafe staff escort to walk them across campus, including to residential halls, transport or places of work or study. Please call UniSafe team on 02 6125 2249 if you require an escort.

UniSafe team is also working closely with the residential halls located in Kambri to ensure students residing near the encampment feel safe and supported.

Where do I go if I need support?

Our Student Safety and Wellbeing team can provide wellbeing support Monday - Friday between 9am - 4pm.

Our staff can access support via our Staff Adviser or Employee Assistance Program.

For after hours support or urgent support, please visit the ANU urgent support page available for staff and students.

The University encourages anyone who needs support to seek it out. If you feel unsafe while on campus, you can request a UniSafe escort (dial 02 6125 2249).

How can staff and students submit a confidential complaint if they feel unsafe?

If you or someone you know have experienced harassment, racism, discrimination, violence or threats of violence, we are here to support you.

ANU staff and students can either submit a disclosure (which can remain anonymous) or an official complaint using the University’s harmful behaviours disclosure tool. If you are a student, please visit the harmful behaviours disclosure response and support page dedicated for students.

As a member of the ANU community, you can expect to live, study and work in a place where everyone has a right to be free from discrimination or harassment, whether direct or indirect. Discrimination will not be tolerated.

Has the University referred any reported incidents to the Australian Federal Police?

Yes. Please be assured that if behaviours were inappropriate, the individual will be investigated and the consequences will be serious. Discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated and where the law may have been broken, we have and will refer these reported incidents to the Australian Federal Police, or where behaviour or speech has violated our code of conduct, we have and continue to commence disciplinary processes.

The University does not comment on individual disciplinary matters.

Socially Responsible Investment Policy and research agreements

 

How does the University’s Socially Responsible Investment Policy influence investment decisions?

The University's long-term investment portfolio is managed under the ANU Socially Responsible Investment Policy, adopted in 2013.

The Socially Responsible Investment Policy contains a clear environmental, social and governance benchmark, making ANU one of only a handful of universities worldwide who use responsible investment to advance its objectives on social and sustainability issues.

ANU Council has oversight of this policy. There are currently two students representatives and three staff representatives (one professional, two academic) on ANU Council.

All investments are covered by this policy and are expected to align with the University's values, expectations and interests.

You can find full details of the policy here. You can also find the University’s latest Socially Responsible Investment Report online.

Note: this policy covers what companies the University chooses to invest or not invest in. Research and academic partnerships are not governed by this policy and are instead covered by the University's relevant policies and procedures on academic freedom, ethics approval and foreign interference considerations.

Is the University re-examining its Socially Responsible Investment policy in light of some of the protestors' demands?

Yes.

The University’s Socially Responsible Investment Policy was introduced in 2013.

The policy promotes investment in securities, companies, trusts and other entities that support socially beneficial outcomes, while avoiding investment opportunities that are likely to cause substantial social injury. The policy also acknowledges that many large companies have diverse activities.

Over the last decade, the list of things that we as a community care about has changed and evolved and the University thanks our student body for drawing our attention to areas that we may need to now consider in 2024. This includes expanding companies for review, along with emerging areas of research including artificial intelligence.

The University will take a paper to ANU Council meeting on Friday 14 June to discuss this policy with our governing body.

ANU is confident that if we can address the tool by which we make these decisions, we can also find a way to recognise our values led approach in how we invest University resources.

Note: this policy covers what companies the University chooses to invest or not invest in. Research and academic partnerships are not governed by this policy and are instead covered by the University's relevant policies and procedures on academic freedom, ethics approval and foreign interference considerations.

How many university partnerships does ANU hold?

The University has had more than 800 university and unit-level agreements over the last 30 years. Currently, the University has approximately 500 active agreements in place, which support student and staff mobility, education pathways, and research engagement.

The University has no current agreements in Israel or Palestine.

How are research partnerships and funding at ANU selected and governed?

All research at ANU is covered by the University’s policy on academic freedom.

Under this policy, ANU researchers are able to undertake research with partners as they see fit, subject to relevant checks and balances. These include ethics approval, national security and foreign interference assessments, and modern slavery considerations, among others.

The University continually reviews and strengthens its policies and procedures for research activities.

ANU has a mission to undertake research and teaching of distinctive quality and which fulfils our national mission. National security and sovereign defence capabilities are in the national interest.

A lot of the University’s research is fundamental in nature, and the overwhelming majority of our research is published in the public domain and is freely available to end users across the globe.

All of the University’s research collaboration is always conducted within the limits of comprehensive Australian legislation, like the Defence Trades Control regime, and governed by the University’s own system of robust checks and balances and ethics approval.

ANU receives funding from a range of sources, including national research grant programs, government departments, donors and business.

All research funding goes through strenuous vetting and due diligence, must meet ethics approval and standards.

Any funded research is undertaken with full academic autonomy and research rigour.

Archived FAQs

 

Why is the University asking students to leave the encampment?

ANU is committed to upholding our values around academic freedom and freedom of speech. We have a proud history of student activism, however this must be undertaken in ways which are respectful, peaceful and safe.

We have asked students to leave the encampment due to health and safety issues for the encampment participants themselves and also the wellbeing and safety of others.

Our campus is a place of work and study for more than 25,000 people and a home for more than 6000 students. Many people in our community have told us they feel unsafe, disrespected and unwelcome on campus due to the encampment and they are not able to go about their work and studies. The encampment is dividing our community and disrupting our core functions.

The wellbeing and safety of our people is of utmost importance, and we will work to maintain the good order of our campus and the social cohesion of our community.

How has the University notified students to leave the encampment?

ANU has met with and written to identified ANU students participating in the encampment, raising concerns about the safety and wellbeing for participants, the campus and our community.

What will happen if students and staff do not leave the encampment as directed?

ANU has given students participating in the encampment a reasonable direction to vacate. Under the University’s student discipline rule, ANU expects students to follow that direction.

The University is checking in on the encampment each day. Where students have complied with the University’s direction ANU thanks them and acknowledges their willingness to engage in protest which is not harmful to others. If students do not vacate the encampment, ANU will explore appropriate action under the University’s policies and procedures.

This could include disciplinary action. In such cases, the matter is between ANU and individual students or staff members. The University does not comment publicly on individual disciplinary matters.