Statement of Support and Solidarity for University of Sydney academics targeted by The Daily Telegraph

 The executive and members of the Asian Australian Studies Research Network (AASRN) would like to provide unequivocal support for the four University of Sydney academics who were featured in a recent story in The Daily Telegraph. This story targeted what the reporter perceived to be ‘political correctness’, and was titled, ‘Bizzare University Classes on Sex and White Privilege’.

We would particularly like to offer our solidarity to Dr Jane Park, who is an AASRN member and was a keynote at the Asian Australian Identities conference in Melbourne in 2017. Given the political climate in Australia and overseas, it is imperative that institutions provide safer spaces to all staff, and particularly to its women, people of colour, Indigenous and queer members. These groups are hypervisible in conservative periods in history, and already undertake a great deal of emotional and pedagogic labour around representational politics in their professional and personal lives.

Dr Park’s influence as a teacher is unmistakable. Her courses provide essential perspectives on race and gender that are sorely missing from much of the university curricula. She has been targeted and attacked precisely because she works to educate people on these topics. We call on universities to acknowledge and support women academics of colour, such as Dr Park, who risk attracting threats to their safety and reputation because of the work that they do.

The network also calls upon Australian universities to affirm their commitment to responsible freedom of speech. Not doing so will play hurt our most resilient researchers and teachers, and contribute to a less safe society for all concerned.

Prepared by Sukhmani Khorana on behalf of AASRN, in consultation with Tim Steains and Yeow-Tong Chia.