Former International Student restarts Hunger Strike at University of Newcastle
Mr Jawad Chafil, former international student from the Kingdom of Morocco, has resumed his hunger strike on Oval 4, next to Wollotuka, at the University of Newcastle today. Mr Chafil began his strike on Monday but was convinced to eat yesterday after University officials promised they would reopen his case and give a response by 5pm yesterday.
At 5pm today, Mr Chafil had still not received any response and has resumed his strike.
In July 2008, Mr Chafil was excluded from the University by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kevin McConkey, who told Mr Chafil that he was intellectually unfit to study, he did not speak English and he did not have enough money. Mr Chafil has been studying at Bond University since and has passed 7/8 courses, was able to pay the private University’s high fees and of course speaks English.
He has returned to Newcastle demanding that the University reinstate and apologise to him.
“I am on hunger strike to prove a point.”
Mr Chafil continued, “I have been in Australia since 2006. I did not see my mum, I did not see my dad, I lost my grandmother, my only sister got married - I did not see her. I am holding an extreme anger inside me. I have severe anxiety and severe depression. I sometimes have to call the police to take me into custody so I don’t crack down. It is McConkey that has destroyed my future.”
Previously, Mr Chafil has contacted the Vice-Chancellor a few times about his matter. He has received no response to date. This is business as usual from NUSA’s perspective.
“This behaviour is very familiar to the student association. We have received no response from the Vice-Chancellor to our cases. As a result we have two cases currently being investigated by the Australian Human Rights Commission,” said Heather Richards, NUSA President.
Getting a degree from the University of Newcastle is really important to Mr Chafil. He was on the board of the Newcastle Ethnic Community Council for four years and has a strong link with the community.
He said, “I feel affiliated to Newcastle. I know the streets and the people and am proud to call it home. I am integrated here, I came when I was 20 and I am turning 30 in a few months.”
Mr Chafil is not the only student that NUSA believes has been mistreated.
“It is almost as if the University believes it can behave however it sees fit, without reference to laws, policies or moral and ethical codes. In our opinion, this University is being run like a dictatorship,” said Ms Richards.
“I was the first student from Kingdom of Morocco to come to Australia straight from high school for tertiary education. It took me a year and a half to get that visa; I had to fly to Egypt. I will go back with a degree,” finished Mr Chafil.