Suspended Qld student eyes court action
A student activist who has attacked the University of Queensland's ties to China wants to appeal his two-year suspension in the Supreme Court.
Philosophy student Drew Pavlou has accused the university of trying to silence his activism in support of Hong Kong and Tibet by accusing him of misconduct.
The 20-year-old plans to challenge his suspension, which he learned about on Friday and comes six months shy of his graduation.
The suspension order covers the remainder of his term as a student-elected member of UQ's governing Senate.
"I want a total, complete exoneration," Mr Pavlou has told ABC radio.
"I want the university to publicly apologise to me. I want to take it to the Supreme Court so we can absolutely tear them to shreds because it's a politically-motivated farce."
Mr Pavlou faced a disciplinary hearing last month over misconduct allegations detailed in a confidential 186-page document, reportedly linked to his on-campus activism against the Chinese Communist Party.
The university has denied the disciplinary action was related to free speech.
But UQ Chancellor Peter Varghese has expressed concern about the outcome.
He will this week convene an out-of-session meeting of UQ's Senate to discuss the case.
"There are aspects of the findings and the severity of the penalty which personally concern me," Mr Varghese said in a statement on Friday.
The University of Queensland has faced media scrutiny for its relations with the Chinese government, which has co-funded four courses offered by the university.
The institution is also home to one of Australia's many Confucius Institutes - Beijing-funded education centres which some critics warn promote propaganda.
Last year Mr Pavlou organised an on-campus demonstration supporting Hong Kong independence activists.
It ended in confrontation, with Mr Pavlou and his supporters surrounded by pro-Chinese students chanting and singing China's national anthem.
The Australian director of Human Rights Watch says the full reasons for Mr Pavlou's suspension have not been shared, but his penalty seems "harsh and unnecessary".
"Students may think twice before organising protests or speaking out on social media. Does UQ really want to achieve global recognition for suspending a student activist?" Elaine Pearson said in a statement.
"Drew's methods may be provocative, but he has brought scrutiny to questionable partnerships between the University of Queensland and Chinese government entities."
She said the university should put its energy into addressing Chinese government interference on university campuses.
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