VUWSA’s Environmental Officer has accused members of the A-Team of racism following an argument over election postering.
Tushara Kodikara alleges the A-Team’s Presidential candidate Lukas Schroeter and Treasurer candidate Joshua O’Rourke both called him a “stupid monkey”, which he believes was meant in a racial context.
Kodikara says the incident took place when two A-Team candidates attempted to poster over Presidential candidate and current Education Vice President Joel Cosgrove’s election posters.
Kodikara says he told the A-Team members to put up their posters elsewhere, rather than over the top of Cosgrove’s. When asked what he would do about it, Kodikara ripped up the A-Team’s posters to prevent them putting them up.
At this point, he says O’Rourke called him “a stupid monkey”.
O’Rourke could not be contacted for comment. Kodikara alleges that when he questioned Schroeter about O’Rourke’s comments, Schroeter responded “well you are a stupid monkey.”
However, Schroeter told Salient he had said Kodikara was “behaving like a monkey”, and that the comment was not meant in a racial context. He says he and O’Rourke later apologised to Kodikara.
President Geoff Hayward, who is running for re-election, told Salient that he had overheard Schroeter’s comment, and believes it was meant in a racial context.
Hayward says: “in these types of situations it’s not the person who says it that needs to determine whether or not it’s racist, it’s everyone else who hears it. If I was Tush and put in his shoes I’d feel like it was a racist comment.
“I know that Lukas’ recollection of what he said is different to mine. I think there’s a whole heap of finger-pointing during election campaigns when there’s a process for this in the University and even if there wasn’t an election on this would still be unacceptable behaviour and the University should be left to investigate the matter should Tush or someone else want to lay a complaint.”
Kodikara says he intends to make a formal complaint to the University about the comments.
Since the incident, satirical posters have appeared reading “Don’t vote for the natives, vote for the A-Team!!!!” with an image found through a Google image search for ‘racist picture’, a source told Salient.
A-Team Queer Rights Officer candidate Sam Archer also raised eyebrows after he listed ‘trannies’ as a fear of his on his Bebo page. Archer joined UniQ an hour before nominations for the election closed – what he has described on Salient’s website as the result of “a convenient double coincidents (sic) between The A-Team and myself Monday last week.”
Regarding his ‘fear’ listed on his Bebo page, Archer later posted on the Salient website: “That was a personal joke, unfortunately you weren’t there, so you wouldn’t understand…
it is loosely based around a long conversation that I had with a group of transexuals on Vivian St. I’ll say no more on the matter, because it really isn’t your business.”
Despite numerous attempts to contact Archer, he could not be reached before time of press.