Thursday, 7 November 2019

Massey Universities Self-Betrayal

The Gets Worse. . . 

In an opinion piece from Massey University Senior Lecturer Dr. Steve Elers published on Saturday. It appears Massey has admitted that the removal Hong Kong protest posters were being removed from public areas last month was financially motivated.
Dr Elers argues that in considering whether to take down the posters, Massey needed to take “economic considerations” into account – specifically the ongoing relationship with Chinese students and the tens of millions of dollars in attached income generated for the University.
On one hand, the sheer honesty from Dr. Elers is refreshing. But from a human rights perspective is alarming:

“So, the question becomes: Are we prepared to risk our fourth largest export earner, $5b and 50,000 jobs, for the sake of "free speech" in the form of posters?”
We issued a statement earlier asking Massey University to confirm whether financial factors played a part in their decision to remove posters highlighting the protests in Hong Kong.
“Is the author correct in his suggestion that Massey weighs free speech values against the financial value of international students? If so, how far is Massey willing to bend? Would Massey scrub its syllabus of politically sensitive lines of inquiry? Does the University have any principled bottom line when it comes to protecting the diversity of thought and opinion on campus?”
“Prospective students deserve to know the answers to these questions.”
Free speech on campus should be non-negotiable: a university’s position as critic and conscience of society should not be up for auction.
 If this really is a factor in Massey's decision to tear down the posters what other forms of speech to meet the bottom line? Is the truth of Tiananmen Square up for grabs too?
Free Speech Coalition member David Farrar has also blogged about this here.

Massey's free speech policy

Last week, we were informed that Massey is drafting a policy on free speech in order to prove to their detractors that they take their obligations as educators seriously. The Free Speech Coalition offered Massey help in the drafting but we question why so much time is needed to write it. The University of Chicago's policy is a shining template and has been adapted by many of the world's leading academic institutions. An excerpt:
“Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn . . . . [I]t is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.” 
While we hope that Massey's statement mirrors the University of Chicago's attitude to free speech and to protect its educators and students from undue and illiberal pressure from international sources, no one is holding their breath. That's why keep up our efforts to "teach Massey" and stop other New Zealand campaigns from going down Massey's path.
Thank you for your support,
Dr David Cumin
Free Speech Coalition

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