Message from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic): Respectful behaviour on campus

This message was emailed to all students on 3 November 2023.

La Trobe acknowledges and is deeply saddened by the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and we express our support to those affected in our community and more broadly.  

While freedom of speech and academic freedom are fundamental to the University, we do not tolerate any kind of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia. 

We recognise and respect that our community holds sincere and diverse perspectives about the conflict. Freedom of speech and academic freedom are fundamental to University life.  However, it is crucial that we share our views in a respectful manner and refrain from behaviour and communications that are discriminatory, contain hate speech or iconography, convey misinformation, or involve offensive material that may impact the wellbeing of our community.  

Sadly, we are aware of circumstances where individuals have circulated offensive materials that could not be characterised as being part of respectful debate or political expression.  

We will continue to take action, when incidents of this nature occur to safeguard the wellbeing of our community, including the removal of inappropriate material, and referring matters for formal disciplinary processes where necessary.  

We ask students who wish to engage in political discussion to: 

  • Respect diverse viewpoints: Our University community is made up of people from a broad range of backgrounds, cultures and faiths. Our diversity is an attribute that strengthens us, and it is important that we respect a diversity of experiences and viewpoints. 
  • Inform yourself: Take the time to inform yourself of the historical and political context influencing current events before expressing an opinion. If you do not consider that you have an educated basis on which to express an opinion, focus your energies on expressing support to all people affected by the current events.
  • Engage in respectful behaviour and language: Avoid using derogatory, discriminatory, and offensive language or iconography when expressing your view. Name-calling, stereotyping, and hate speech hinder a genuine exchange of ideas and mutual understanding. 

 With respect to posters and the distribution of materials on our campuses, the University wishes to clarify that materials will be removed if they:

  • Depict imagery of a traumatic or graphic nature that may impact the mental health of students or staff
  • Contain language or imagery that may be considered racist or likely to incite hatred 
  • Are adhered with glue or other forms of non-removable adhesive 

Any student who is concerned about behaviour or posters/materials on campus is encouraged to report the issue to Safer Community.  

The Student Wellbeing team is available to provide support to any student who requires assistance during this challenging time.

Professor Jessica Vanderlelie
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic)