An Open Letter to the USU Wom*n’s Officer
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An Open Letter to the USU Wom*n’s Officer

An Open Letter to the USU Wom*n’s Officer

Dear Ms Bullen,

I’m sure the Mon Droit editorial team appreciated the bucket of convoluted legalistic vomit you dumped in reply to their simple request for inclusion and integration in discussions about reforms which effect the entire university community. However instead of addressing concerns about the meeting, you launched into a justification of the Women’s Room.

Students have had a long time to come to terms with this ideological cubby house. It’s a manifest example of segregated space excused by left-wing ideology.  However, unfortunately its existence is not at issue here. What’s at issue is the decision to hold two consecutive meetings to discuss a radical change to the way the C&S program works. One, exclusive, where only certain people/stakeholders can attend; and a second where everyone can attend.

Despite being a supposed radical left-wing ideologue, you have well and truly hidden behind the edifice of the law in justifying your blatant acts of discrimination. You will be aware, no doubt, that this is not the first time the law has been misappropriated in such a way.

However, if we go back to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth), according to s5 (2), “a person (the discriminator) discriminates against another person (the aggrieved person) on the ground of the sex of the aggrieved person if the discriminator imposes, or proposes to impose, a condition, requirement or practice that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging persons of the same sex as the aggrieved person.”

It’s pretty obvious that if cis-men can only attend one of two meetings whilst everybody else can attend both, that is a ‘condition…likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging persons of the same sex’.

Quite frankly, you’ve not established that this act of discrimination is ‘reasonable in the circumstance’ under s 7B and therefore excusable. Allow me to go through all the conditions to be taken into consideration when determining ‘reasonableness’:

(a)    the nature and extent of the disadvantage resulting from the imposition, or proposed imposition, of the condition, requirement or practice;

The nature and extent of the disadvantage is quite significant in the context of the debate which is being facilitated at two consecutive meetings. Those who have the most to lose (i.e. executive positions to which they have been democratically elected) are apparent ‘cis-males’ and yet they are being excluded from half the deliberative process.

Your assertion that under this subsection “I would say the ‘nature and extent of the disadvantage’ is not an imposition, considering access is granted to most other spaces in the university and in the general community” is ludicrous. I cannot imagine a situation where it would be okay to say “women/homosexuals/people of colour aren’t disadvantaged by exclusion from this special room for white cis-males because there are plenty of other spaces open to them”. Rightly so, this would be exclusionary and wrong. No matter how much space there may be outside, to say that “you can’t come into this room because you are x” particularly when debates are happening in that room which affect the aggrieved person, is abhorrent and anathema to principles of inclusion and equality.

(b)   the feasibility of overcoming or mitigating the disadvantage; 

The disadvantage is purposefully imposed by you, Kate. It’s quite feasible you could limit the discussion to one, inclusive meeting. The disadvantage is then completely overcome.

(c)    whether the disadvantage is proportionate to the result sought by the person who imposes, or proposes to impose, the condition, requirement or practice.

Cf. (a), the disadvantage is clearly disproportionate and unnecessary.

Having taken you through the elements of the Act which you rely upon, and shown how you have been mistaken in their application, I hope you will understand the illogicality and unfairness of your decision. I’m sure these objections will be ignored. Despite the gymnastic flair of your statutory interpretation – it’s hard to get past the simple fact that what you are jeopardising here is the equal representation of men and women in a debate about the future of the C&S program.

William Dawes

Ms Bullen's post on the Mon Droit Facebook wall.

Ms Bullen’s post on the Mon Droit Facebook wall.


Ms Bullen's reply to Mon Droit's reference to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 s33

Ms Bullen’s reply to Mon Droit’s reference to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 s33

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