Uni student loses race discrimination claim case

A RASTAFARIAN University of Newcastle student’s race discrimination claim was rejected yesterday after the Jamaican failed to convince the Administrative Decisions Tribunal that his failure in a subject was linked to his race.

The student, Jesos Parkes, complained that his failure in the subject Closing the Gap and a comment a lecturer made amounted to racial discrimination.

But tribunal deputy president, magistrate Nancy Hennessy, ruled that there was no basis for the claim to proceed to a hearing.

Mr Parkes, who represented himself, claimed that a lecturer said to him ‘‘Jesos, don’t discriminate against me’’ during a class.

He also claimed that Closing the Gap was the only subject he failed.

He lodged, as part of his application, the last pages of two assignments that stated he had made a ‘‘good effort’’, but they also contained comments that he needed to provide a stronger analysis in his answers and a closer link to the assignment question.

Ms Hennessy said she could not find any link between the comments and Mr Parkes’s race. She said Rastafarianism was not regarded as a race but Jamaican was.

She found no link, however, between Mr Parkes’s nationality and his failure in the subject.

Nor could she find any link between the comment the lecturer allegedly made in class with any intention to discriminate.

‘‘He said that the last thing he expected was to fail and he cannot attribute the fail grade to anything other than race discrimination,’’ Ms Hennessy ruled.

‘‘If this complaint went ahead to a hearing in the tribunal, the question would not be whether Mr Parkes was treated unfairly or whether he deserved a higher mark.

‘‘The central question would be whether at least one of the reasons for making the comment or awarding the fail grade was his race. ‘There is nothing specific to connect the alleged treatment with his race.’’

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