Universities are set to come under the magnifying
glass in the war on terror. Last week, the government sent a brochure to universities informing them that academics would
be asked to report any attempts to obtain items or services that could
used for weapons of mass destruction and to report “suspicious
advances” by students, says The Oz.

This isn’t the first time the terror crackdown has reared its head
on university campuses – last year a Monash University student was questioned by federal police over books he had bought on campus and borrowed
from the university library to study martyrdom and

Dr David Wright-Neville, a Monash lecturer in global terrorism who
defended the Muslim student at the time and warned other politics students that they could also be targeted, told Crikey
that the new brochure is “ridiculous”, not least because it assumes that
academics “are incapable of
people who are suspicious.” And it ignores the fact that terrorists “don’t
flag their activities in a high profile manner”.

The brochure also suggests a level of panic within some government circles
and yet, “it doesn’t contribute anything of value to an
effective terror management strategy” – while many terrorists are tertiary
educated, with many specialising in sciences, “I’m not aware of any
tertiary education being utilised for
terror attacks in the past,” says Wright-Neville.

Meanwhile, the ramifications of such anti-terror
measures for academics and students are “potentially
profound,” he says, with academics “expected to
act as unpaid intelligence officers”.

As for students, it doesn’t stipulate in the brochure, but we “know
who’s being targeted here,” says Wright-Neville. The brochure “risks
further feeding the perception of Australia being in the grip of

Wright-Neville said that the Muslim student targeted last year was
cleared of any wrongdoing and was “actually a pacifist.”