Racist messages on university Reddit page spark police investigation

Alice Peacock, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sunday, 19 May 2019, 11:31AM
Racism concerns at the university had been growing, (Photo / File)
Racism concerns at the university had been growing, (Photo / File)

Police are investigating after a series of racist messages were posted on an unofficial University of Auckland Reddit page.

Officers have also been patrolling at the university today in a bid to reassure students of their safety.

A thread of messages appeared on the social media forum Reddit yesterday, with a user calling to "Make NZ White again".

Further messages included racist comments targeting Asian students and discussion of a "killout".

"Our base is at the O'roke [sic] and we are growing stronger every day," the user posted.

A police spokeswoman confirmed officers were aware of the posts, and were making inquiries.

"There has been a police presence at the university, this has been routine reassurance patrolling," she said.

A post on the University of Auckland Students' Association Facebook page called the posts "deeply concerning' and encouraged students to contact police or security if they felt unsafe.

"We have asked the university for more information about what is happening here and what support is being given to our Asian and international students in our Halls of Residence at this time."

The posts come around a month after the creation of a petition on Change.org demanding the University of Auckland enforce a no-tolerance policy against discrimination.

"In light of the recent Christchurch terror attacks, we students of the University of Auckland demand that the university take a more active role in addressing racism on campus," the petition read.

Shortly after its creation, the university told the Herald it was unaware of any white supremacist movements on campus, and believed some of the incidents being reported in the media were "historic".

The spokeswoman did, however, confirm the university had received a number of formal complaints about the behaviour of a student.

In a statement sent to the Herald, the University of Auckland said there was no place for harassment at its institution.

"While we will not accept harassment or abuse in any form, we have an obligation under natural justice to follow agreed and shared protocol," it said.

The outcomes of the formal complaints could not be provided but a spokeswoman said the university was acting upon them "immediately".

When University of Auckland student Pearl Little graduated last month she accepted her degree wearing a shirt protesting what she calls the institution's insufficient response to racial harassment.

The message was in protest against issues with "growing alt-right and white supremacy movements that have been bubbling for the past few years", Little said.

"This came to a head a few weeks ago, just before the mid-semester break, where quite a few students were experiencing harassment in the arts grad-lab," she said.

"We thought as a collective that the university wasn't doing enough to be mindful of the concerns of the students."


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