Volume 10, Issue 7
The University recently tried to implement an “Appropriate Behaviour” policy which made freedom of academic expression subject to university “profitability”.
The proposed policy provided an open-ended ability for University senior management to take action against any staff member deemed to have threatened the “reputation, viability or profitability of the University”.
Clause 7 of the policy made clear that any supposed academic freedom of expression would “not abrogate an employee’s employment obligations”, including the obligation not to threaten University profitability.
Fortunately for the University community, an NTEU fightback ensured that the “Appropriate Behaviour” policy was redrafted.
What made the attacks on freedom of academic expression possible was the recent removal of academic freedom protections from the University Statute.
The University Statute used to have a section called “Values of the University”. One of the values was:
“preserving, defending and promoting the traditional principles of academic freedom in the conduct of its affairs, so that all scholars at the University are free to engage in critical inquiry, scholarly endeavour and public discourse without fear or favour”.
The University stated that this was “Removed because considered obvious, superfluous [sic].”
The University failed to consult staff prior to bringing massive changes to the Statute, including the removal of the academic freedom protections.
The changes are frightening. Check out the Vice-Chancellor Regulation. It gives Glyn Davis almost complete dictatorial powers within the University, including the power to establish or disestablish entire University departments, courses and subjects. He also has the power to “appoint any and all staff of the University”, and “may exercise the power of attorney” with respect to certain intellectual property matters, “even if the University benefits”.
The NTEU has stated that:
“The decision of University Council to stop telling staff what decisions it has made and what matters it is considering is arrogant and disrespectful of University staff and students.”
It went on to say that:
“The current model whereby decision making is concentrated to a small number of senior management who appear to either have no experience or no respect for what a University actually is must be replaced.”
Duncan Wallace is a third-year JD student and Chief Editor of De Minimis
The rest of this week's issue: