Lecturer locked out after race comment

August 12, 2005

An Australian university law lecturer has been suspended after publicly criticising African and Asian immigration. But civil libertarians, some students and the National Tertiary Education Union said the action was a denial of free speech.

Andrew Fraser, associate professor of public law at Macquarie University in Sydney, was relieved from teaching last week after claiming that sub-Saharan Africans were a high crime risk because of their low IQs. Having been locked out of his lecture room, Dr Fraser conducted the first class of the second semester to 14 students in the open air.

The Canadian-born academic made his claims in a letter to a local newspaper, in which he gave his title and named the university. He also said that Asian immigrants were becoming a ruling class that threatened the social, political and economic interests of "ordinary" Australians.

But Dr Fraser broke a code of conduct negotiated with the union that states that academics may use their university titles only when commenting on a matter relating to their area of expertise.

Di Yerbury, vice-chancellor of Macquarie, suspended Mr Fraser's classes, saying she was concerned about his safety and that of students on campus after receiving threatening e-mails. Professor Yerbury said she had met representatives of the Sudanese community and the African Community Council to apologise for Dr Fraser's views being linked to the university.

Dr Fraser, who has taught at Macquarie for 29 years, refused the offer of early retirement, saying he did not regret his comments. "It's a subject that nobody wants to talk about. Somebody's got to do it, so it might as well be me," he said.

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