A college student in Australia claims that her name was used in a lurid, take-home exam hypothetical because she harbors conservative views.
According to various media organizations, Freya Leach, 19, is taking courses at the University of Sydney Law School, which initially claimed that the moniker was just a coincidence and the professor had used it in prior exam questions.
The student argues that it might amount to a naming-and-shaming attempt.
Leach “claims she was unfairly targeted in a law exam that sees a character with her first name kill a man, infect another with HIV and get thrown out of a window…she and her second-year criminal law cohort were given a fictional scenario as part of an end of semester test in which a character — a uni student named ‘Freya’ — murders one of her left-leaning peers. The namesake character also deliberately infects a sexual partner with HIV,” News.com.au reported. “Ms Leach…has accused the faculty of mocking her political views in the essay question.”
Leach also said that she received texts from nearly two dozen classmates who had concluded “the Freya in the assignment was based on her,” the Daily Mail reported.
According to the news outlet, Leach “is well-known among students and tutors at Sydney University for her conservative views and being a member of the [New South Wales] Young Liberals.”
In Australia, the establishment conservative party is known as the Liberals. The Liberal coalition was soundly defeated in the country’s May 2022 federal election by the left-wing Labor Party, in part because of the Liberals’ draconian COVID-19 lockdown policy.
On Thursday, the apologetic school reportedly scrapped the controversial exam on grounds of “academic integrity” and intends to replace it.
This occurred after the would-be barrister lodged a complaint about reputational harm with university officials. “The problem question uses my name and characterizes me as a right-wing person who kills a left-wing person. It then recounts a sex scene in graphic detail and says I am HIV positive. After which point, I am thrown out of a window,” the complaint letter read.
In one of the purported exam questions, hit-and-run driver “Freya” plows her car into a “Chardonnay socialist” (the British and Aussie term similar to limousine liberal), and receives a text message from a friend who congratulates her on a great job — “one less illiberal liberal.”
Borrowing some language that the left often deploys, she added that “Memes have already started to circulate, making fun of my character in the problem question and depicting me as having HIV. This exam has had made me feel unsafe to hold a diverse viewpoint at the University of Sydney Law School.”
Intolerant, anti-free-speech leftists on campus apparently have sought to marginalize her.
“Ms Leach claimed she was being targeted after confrontations with ‘socialist’ students who had called her ‘a parasite’ in a ‘zoom bombing’. She argued in her complaint that it was unusual for an assignment question to use ‘uncommon’ names such as hers,” the Daily Mail noted.
Based on this situation, it does appear that Australian colleges are just as inhospitable — from the administration and faculty on down — to conservatives as are American so-called institutions of higher education.
Throwing around ideological terms such as left- or right-wing, or the like, in a criminal law test, moreover, seems completely unnecessary and gratuitous, even if it’s meant to be funny. Graphic sexual content is another matter.
And any similarly situated professor should probably pick more generic first names when recycling character appellations.
According to one online source, Freya is “a classic name steeped in Nordic tradition.”
“To be vilified in such a graphic way, and for that to be distributed to 400 peers, makes me wonder what is going on…my jaw dropped and I realized it was actually me in that assignment. At worst, it was malicious; at best, it was utterly incompetent,” Leach told Sky News Australia. “What does this have anything to do with criminal law?”
She went on to say that “it doesn’t matter if it was my name or anyone’s name. What is actually at issue is the obvious and biased politicization of the University of Sydney’s law exams. Politics has nothing to do with criminal law. This question could have been given to students without any reference to politics, and it would have been just as valid.”
A law school exam typically requires answering dense essays that present students with hypothetical legal scenarios. The exams tend to be more about spotting all the potential legal issues rather than necessarily putting forth solutions.
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