University of Sydney statement on the conflict in the Middle East

13 October 2023
Support is available for our community
The University of Sydney has released a statement to extend our sympathies to all those affected by the conflict, and to emphasise the support available for our community and our continued expectations of our staff and students at this challenging time.

The University’s full statement 

We abhor terrorism, violence and all breaches of human rights and humanitarian law, and are shocked and dismayed by the conflict and loss of life in the Middle East. We extend our deepest sympathies to all those affected by the conflict.

We strongly support free speech but do not tolerate any form of racism, hate speech, threatening speech, bullying or unlawful harassment including anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim language or behaviour.

If anyone experiences or witnesses such behaviour, we urge them to let our protective services or complaints teams know so we can undertake immediate inquiries and ensure access to appropriate support for those affected.

Our support for our community

We know it’s more important than ever that our campuses continue to be a welcoming and safe space for all students including our Jewish and Palestinian students at this time.

The University has reached out directly to students of Israeli and Palestinian citizenship or country of residence, to offer additional support including special consideration, peer support and counselling. We are also consulting with relevant clubs and societies about how we can best connect with and support the wider Israeli and Palestinian student communities with academic, psychological and other practical support.

For staff or family members who are feeling distressed, we have a number of counselling services available.

We have increased our security profile across campus for the time being as a precautionary measure: if anyone feels unsafe on campus our protective services operates 24/7 and is available to help.

Our expectations for students and staff

Our Vice-Chancellor has written to our staff and students, acknowledging many hold strong views on this conflict and encouraging them to express themselves in a way that considers the impact on other members of our campus community.

Our Student Charter (pdf, 221KB) and Code of Conduct for staff (pdf, 275KB) lay out our expectations for students and staff. Both affirm our commitment to free speech and academic freedom (pdf, 204KB), including robust, informed debate and lawful protest that is free from discrimination and harassment.

Student representative organisations are run by students and operate independently of the University; their views – and those of other student-led groups and University of Sydney staff – are their own.

We are aware of concerns about comments made by some members of our community and have carefully assessed them. While they are not in accordance with the view the University has put forward, and we recognise they may be upsetting, we currently have not found any to be in breach of University policies on Academic Freedom, Public Comment or Code of Conduct. We will continue to investigate all complaints received.