Two students at the center of a wild protest that stopped a speech by Malcolm Turnbull at his old university have been suspended, but claim they are the victims.
Deaglan Godwin and Maddie Clark were suspended from the University of Sydney after Turnbull, who was invited to the uni’s Law School alumni speaker series, was forced to deliver his speech online.
Following an investigation, the university ruled that Ms Clark, 22, and Mr Godwin, 23, “violated Turnbull’s freedom of expression” and “feared him and other students.”
Mr. Godwin was suspended for a semester and Ms. Clark, who was previously cautioned for protesting a pro-life booth on campus, was suspended for a year.
Both recently served on the university’s participation council.
Turnbull was interrupted by screaming, chanting and shrieking protesters led by Ms Clark and Mr Godwin who blasted the former prime minister and escorts with a megaphone last September.
Deaglan Godwin (pictured top right) and Maddie Clark were suspended from the University of Sydney after Malcolm Turnbull (pictured, center), who was invited to the uni’s Law School alumni speaker series, was forced to deliver his speech online
Following an investigation, Sydney University ruled that Ms Clark, 22, and Mr Godwin (pictured top left), 23, ‘violated Turnbull’s freedom of expression’ and ‘feared him and other students’
“How dare you come here?” Mr Godwin yelled at the stunned Turnbull before telling him to ‘rot back to Wentworth’ and his audience to ‘rot back to Mosman’.
At the protest, Godwin vowed, “We will never let a former Liberal prime minister come here on campus and talk to students he’s so crazy about.”
Unheard through the megaphone and singing even with a microphone, Turnbull shrugged and seemed embarrassed.
Eventually the NSW police had to be called.
They barricaded the entrance to the annex and Turnbull’s speech was switched to an online platform.
As Turnbull left, protesters yelled at him, “Malcolm Turnbull, blood on your hands!”
Both Ms Clark and Mr Godwin have since claimed in personal social media posts that their suspensions are harassment of activists and that their protest was nothing out of the ordinary.
“I believe this response from the university is extreme and intimidating to activists on campus,” Ms. Clark wrote.
Our protest was no more than what Malcolm Turnbull would have been used to in Question Time.
“Still, we were penalized for temporarily disrupting his speech at a Law Society event.
‘The university says it supports freedom of expression, but that freedom only applies to the political views they agree with.’
Ms Clark claimed her pro-life protest against a Life Choices campus stall was valid to protect the rights of pregnant women.
She also claimed that supporters of the stall gave the Nazi salute.
“Myself and others protested the Life Choices booth because the ideas Life Choices promotes are discriminatory,” she said.
“They are used to promote misogynistic views and restrict our rights. We wanted to show other students on campus that the bigoted views of Life Choices would not go unchallenged.”
Godwin claimed his suspension is “nothing but a blatant attempt by the university administration to intimidate student activists”
Ms Clark claimed in a social media post that her suspension is harassment of activists and their protest was nothing out of the ordinary
Godwin claimed his suspension “is nothing but a blatant attempt by the university administration to intimidate student activists.”
He also described the university’s internal investigation as ‘a kangaroo court’.
“This sets a terrible precedent that students don’t have real freedom of speech on campus,” Godwin said.
“But multimillionaire former prime ministers can be invited on campus and if mildly irritated by protests, they use their connections to discipline student union members.”
The pair, in a co-written op-ed in 9 newspapersclaimed they ‘never intended to close the event’ and explained why they were protesting his performance at Sydney University.
These include Turnbull’s involvement with Axiom Forest Resources, which registered the Solomon Islands; his career with investment bank Goldman Sachs; and his policies as prime minister, including the robo-debt scheme.
“These decisions have impacted the lives of employees, students and other citizens, and they are decisions that should not be forgiven or forgotten now that Turnbull is no longer in office.”
They disputed the university’s finding that they violated Turnbull’s freedom of speech and vowed to repeat the protest even with the same penalties.
“How can a few students with a megaphone have such a loud voice as Turnbull? We just don’t have the options for a former prime minister with book deals and speaking engagements.’
Ms Clark (pictured left) was suspended for a year by Sydney University after protesting Mr Turnbull’s performance and also peaking at a pro-life stall at the university
They pointed out that after the protest, Turnbull was given a platform in national news outlets to label those who interrupted his speech as “fascist bullies.”
Ms Clark and Mr Godwin said the University of Sydney had informed them that they can protest but “must do so in a reasonable manner”.
They pointed out how many major protest movements throughout history have been considered disruptive.
Both Mrs. Clark and Mr. Godwin are appealing the university’s decision.
A spokesperson for the University of Sydney said it has ‘never suspended a student for simply protesting’ and understands the action has ‘implications’ for our students.
“We take action if someone involved in a protest has violated our policies or the law.
This includes damaging property, creating safety risks, disrupting work so that it cannot continue or harassing others.
Similarly, we are taking action against those who harass or harm demonstrators or pose security risks.
Protests may be noisy and lively, but they must not infringe on the rights and freedoms of others.
We consider any attempt to exclude speakers invited to our campuses to participate in an exchange of views and ideas as a violation of our Charter of Academic Freedom and Freedom of Expression, which defines our university’s core values in this area. .’
Daily Mail Australia approached Malcolm Turnbull, Maddie Clark and Deaglan Godwin for comment.