1,000 signatures reached
To: University of Tasmania (UTas)
University of Tasmania: Students deserve a safe campus!
Respect your commitment to improve student safety , by immediately terminating Nicholaas Bester's Phd scholarship, and banning him from attending any University of Tasmania campus.
Why is this important?
Despite signing onto the Universities' Australia Respect Now always campaign only last year, and making a commitment to the ongoing Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) project aimed at stamping out sexual assault on campus, the University of Tasmania (UTas) is actively welcoming a convicted sex offender on campus.
Nicholaas Bester, who is currently a Phd student at the University of Tasmania (UTas) Sandy Bay campus, was convicted and jailed in 2011 for sexually abusing a 15 year old student at St. Michaels Collegiate girls college, where he was head of science.
At the time of his parole, Bester was admitted to UTas as a student and received a phd scholarship.
In 2015 Bester stated on social media his first crime was 'awesome' in a conversation so offensive it was reported to Tasmania Police and resulted in him being charged with producing child exploitation material. He served a prison sentence for this in 2016, during which time he remained a student at UTas.
Despite multiple complaints being made about Besters presense on campus, the University of Tasmania has put students at risk by:
- Accepting Bester as a resident in the John Fisher student accommodation complex, where he lived in close proximity with many students.
- Making no attempt to terminate Bester’s student status after he was reported to the police for predatory behaviour at the University gymnasium. At the time, an agreement was made with Bester that he would no longer attend the gym, but UTas continued to accommodate him on campus.
When questioned, the university deputy vice-chancellor for research, Bridgid Heywood said that "there is nothing in the universities' rules which precludes Bester from continuing his research."
However, this appears to ignore the university behaviour policy which states that all staff and students have a right to work and / or study in an environment that is free from inappropriate behaviour, including the sexually harassing and abusive behaviours which Bester has engaged in.
The universities decision to support Bester's phd status despite his continued criminal and inappropriate behaviour poses a clear threat to other university students, and in particular the underage students whom attend campus for pre-university units.
This is ironic given the university sectors national commitment to creating safer campus environments after the release of the national union of students women's survey last year which showed that over 72% of women experience some form of sexual harassment or violence while studying .
Sign the petition to demand that the University respect their commitment to improve student safety, by immediately terminating Nicholaas Bester's Phd scholarship, and banning him from attending all University of Tasmania campuses.
*Under Federal and state legislation, universities' are autonomous self-accrediting institutions. The university has the authority to terminate a phd student position according to its own policies.