Earlier this week, Freya Newman, a communications student at the University of Technology, Sydney, was charged with hacking offenses in relation to accessing Frances Abbott‘s student records at the Whitehouse Institute of Design.
Students across the nation have offered their moral support to Newman, but The Australian have today reported that the University of Sydney, an entirely separate institution from Newman’s, may be offering monetary support through its student legal service.
On Wednesday of this week, at a meeting of Sydney University’s Student Representative Council, a motion of solidarity with Newman was put forward. There is little information online, but this live blog from student newspaper Honi Soit notes it just before 9pm.
Socialist Alternative member Ridah Hassan put the motion forward, saying that Newman “deserves to be applauded” for her role in leaking information about Frances Abbott’s $60,000 scholarship to The Whitehouse Institute.
RH: “she deserves to be applauded” James Leeder supports the motion, talks about SRC legal services offering monetary support #usydsrc
— Honi Soit (@honi_soit) August 6, 2014
This follow-up Tweet from Honi Soit notes that General Secretary James Leeder supported the motion, then discussed the possibility of Sydney Uni’s Student Representative Council Legal Service offering monetary support to Newman.
SRC Legal have a solicitor based at Sydney University’s Darlington campus, to provide advice and representation to students across a wide range of legal issues.
The service is funded through the uni’s Student Services and Amenities Fee. Figures from earlier this year show that part time students pay $105.37 per semester, while full time students pay $140.50. Of $1.51 million allocated in 2014, the SRC Legal Service received $129,000 for salaries and non-salary activities.
At this stage, it is not clear whether or to what extent the SRC’s Legal Service will actually be contributing to Newman’s defense, but the move is sure to be a contentious one.
On the one hand, it’s admirable that students are banding together to help Newman out. On the other, it seems a little bizarre that University of Sydney students with no connection to Newman might potentially have their resources diverted to her legal battle.
Expect to hear more on this story as it plays out.
Photo: Saeed Khan via Getty Images