Equippers Church members and AUTSA staff accused of making false complaints towards student
by Nic George (he/him)
An AUT student says false harassment complaints were made against him after being confronted by two members of Equippers Church on campus.
A third-year law student says he was approached by Equippers Church members who claimed to be AUT staff.
The student says he was putting up posters in WG for AUT Secular Society, a club he founded to raise concerns over the Equippers Church presence on campus, and their homophobic views.
He says the Equippers Church members then told him to take the posters down and accused him of defaming the university.
Earlier this year, Debate spoke to multiple students who felt Equippers Church were engaging in aggressive recruitment during International Hub meetings.
Equippers Church has also made submissions against the 2013 Marriage Amendment Bill and the bill to ban conversion therapy.
The student says he was confronted a second time by the Equippers Church members. He tried to end the conversation, but they persisted, telling him that they were watching him, and that he would be in trouble with the university.
He then received a notice from AUT's student conduct department, summoning him for a disciplinary meeting to discuss his "aggressive and harassing" behaviour.
The student conduct team determined it "will not take any further action".
He says he no longer feels safe walking through the WG building and tries to completely avoid it when he’s on campus.
"If I want to go to the library after one of my classes, I have to go all the way down Mayoral Drive and go to the library from the plaza. I can't go through there without fear of being harassed and have another complaint against me."
When the student discovered that the Equippers member worked for AUTSA as the spirituality advisor, he attempted to report it to AUTSA.
The student says he was "flustered" when he reported the issue to the main office, but AUTSA student and communities manager, Madz Crouth calmed him down and told him they would resolve the issue.
However, in the following days, he received another disciplinary notice from AUT for "aggressive and harassing" behaviour.
Madz Crouth says the complaints are legitimate because the student “Exhibited an aggressive approach towards both the International Hub club and [Equippers Church] in public forums.”
The student says the whole experience has seriously impacted his mental health as he was preparing for his exams at the end of the semester.
"In that last meeting, I was just so depressed. I didn't say much. I just zoned out because I wanted it to be over."