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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 9. 1st May 1974

Student Solidarity with Prisoners

page 3

Student Solidarity with Prisoners

Australian students are making an effective protest about mistreatment of prisoners in Australian jails. Students at Melbourne's La Trobe University are offering sanctuary to escaped prisoners, and will give them finance, food, clothing, and any other help they need.

The students motion to declare the university a haven for escaped prisoners was deemed "an intolerable assault upon the rule of law in an ordered society" by a reactionary newspaper recently. But it went through with only two dissensions and the student body also approved the plan in late March this year.

Already Lot's Wife, the official student newspaper of Melbourne's Monash University is forecasting positive action for the step.

"La Trobe students appear on the way to building a solid alliance between Pentridge (Jail) prisoners and the student body", they said in early March.

The Townsville Daily Bulletin, in its report of the situation, called La Trobe "one of the worst trouble-making student and academic minorities in Australia,"

In an editorial on "contempt for the law", it cites several instances of violence by La Trobe students in 1971 and a clash between students and police. The editorial described the proposal as part of the wider picture of erosion of respect for the law and of contempt for traditional political processes as a means of reforming the law.

Student solidarity with prisoners started in 1972 when three students spent some months in Pentridge's "Bluestone Cottage" Since that time, says Lot's Wife, students have been made aware of prison life.

"Out of the three students originally jailed, two are on the present SRC while the other is the driving force behind the Prison Action Committee. At a recent demonstration outside Pentridge this student was arrested on charges of inciting prisoners to riot."

According to student president, Brian Pola (jailed in 1972 for contempt of court after defying an injunction barring him from campus), La Trobe students have already harboured escaped convicts from Pentridge Jail — one in 1971 and another in 1973. Both men are still free, says Pola.