Friday, 21 September 2018

University Vice-Chancellors Given Notice

More Progress On Defence of Free Speech

Bryce Edwards, lecturer in Politics at Victoria University is often arguing at the left end of the spectrum.  One of the encouraging things, however, in the recent public debate about free speech in New Zealand is the way folk right across the political and ideological spectrum have stood up for free speech.  

Many have publicly excoriated Massey University shutting down opinions the entitled hierarchy found objectionable.  Edwards has joined in with the objecting chorus, for which we are thankful. 

His take on where the nation now stands with respect to Massey and its now-shown-to-be duplicitous Vice Chancellor, Jan Thomas is as follows:
The attempt by the head of Massey University to ban Don Brash from speaking on campus last month has entirely backfired. Instead of Brash being undermined by her actions, it now looks like Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas is in danger of losing her position. What's more, her actions have ended up reinforcing academic freedoms on campus.

Certainly, we now know that Massey University academic staff have been fighting back against their boss, with the view that she has brought their institution into disrepute. Peter Lineham, a professor of history at Massey has been leading the charge, and he put forward a motion to the University's Academic Council yesterday to censure the Vice Chancellor. He explained why today in an interview with Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, saying "I think it is a big, big blunder… this has put the university in a very bad light" and in terms of the university staff, "I think most people are uneasy about the decision" – see the three-minute interview: 'It was a big blunder' – Massey Uni board speak out.

Lineham explained how the Academic Council met yesterday and "grilled" their boss. He gives an idea of how Massey staff feel, saying there was "intense discussion at Academic Board, because she seemed to have started off being very determined to find some way or other to stop Don Brash's visit, and then retreated from it, and then up came the safety issue, which I think had it been looked at in the cold and hard light of day didn't really amount to much."

Perhaps Lineham's most important point in the interview is about how campus free speech has actually been strengthened as a result of the Brash-ban debacle: "I think we have recovered free speech a bit because this controversy has strongly marked the New Zealand campuses by the fact that vice chancellors – and this is happening throughout the world – cannot play nanny to the students. That's a ridiculous role. The students can choose who they want to listen to, and can have whatever views they want. And I think this particular incident has made every vice chancellor realise that they need to keep their hands out of deciding what students should listen to."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"And I think this particular incident has made every vice chancellor realise that they need to keep their hands out of deciding what students should listen to."

I disagree. A sacking would do it but nothing less will penetrate.