18C case student cleared by Queensland University of Technology

18C case student cleared by Queensland University of Technology, by Hedley Thomas. No, this isn’t the outcome of the current Federal Court case, only the QUT internal investigation.

A student being sued for $250,000 in a section 18C racial hatred case was cleared of any wrongdoing three years ago by university executives over his Facebook post about his eviction from an indigenous-only study area. …

University director of equity Mary Kelly, in an affidavit filed in the Federal Circuit Court, says a QUT letter to Mr Wood in 2013 did not admonish or warn him “because we did not believe he had breached the code”.


Mr Wood had written on Facebook on May 28, 2013: “Just got kicked out of the unsigned ­indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation?”

His post went up soon after Cindy Prior, an indigenous ­administrative officer in QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit, had directed Mr Wood and two other students to leave. She had first asked whether they were indigenous, as the Oodgeroo Unit was established for Aboriginal students. After Ms Prior’s intervention, Mr Wood and his friends left peacefully.

Ms Prior later began legal ­action against Mr Wood and two other students under the Racial Discrimination Act’s section 18C, which makes it unlawful for anyone to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” another person or group on the grounds of race, ­colour or ethnicity.

Free speech is on trial. Good that the university itself didn’t see a problem with his speech. Tricky business, this existence of vague rules that are selectively enforced. It engenders a climate of fear — but maybe that’s the point?