because I said so

telling it like I think it is: sunili’s blog

Freedom of Thought and Intellectual Freedom

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She‘s baaaaaaack!!

After her column a couple of weeks ago about how K-Rudd’s been doin‘ O-Kay (which left more than a couple of commenters asking, “Who are you and what have you done with the real Janet?”) Aunty Jan returns to doing what she does best: writing diatribes full of broad, sweeping statements that generally end with “It has happened in the US. It should be happening here.

This week’s thesis: “University is not the place to crush ideas”.

You’re soooooo right Aunty J. Of course it isn’t; High School is.

Sarcasm aside, I once again find myself agreeing with Janet.

Now, there’s a Facebook group called Law School: Where Idealism Goes to Die, but I promise my idealism is only slightly anemic rather than already cremated.

Mind you, my corporate-law coffin is pretty much ready and waiting for me (habour-views, satin lining and all!), but I’m not quite ready to lie down in it.

Anyway, my point is that I am certainly not one of the “group of Young Liberals” who are the subject of Albrechtsen’s current concerns (btw, as one commenter rightly points out, what counts as a ‘group’? 100? 50? 10? More than 2?). However, I do believe that “freedom of thought and intellectual freedom” (maybe articulated a little snappier) is one of the most important (if not the ultimate) tenet of a university.

However, I reckon that if JA really had her way, she’d just as biased for the Right as the Leftie Scum academics the Young Libs have a problem with. My fave comment from the blog is from Steve of Sydney:

Welcome to Janet Albrechtsen University. Please read the Charter for each of our faculties:

  • Business: Maximise profit. It doesn’t matter what you do to achieve it but it helps to use others in order to get there. Global warming doesn’t exist so pollute as much as you can.
  • Law: Screw the poor. The law is there to serve and protect the interests of the corporate state. All other matters are trivial.
  • Medicine: Survival of the fittest is how we should gear our health systems. Don’t waste money on improving public health because there is no such thing as “the public.” It’s everyone for himself.
  • Education: Our role is to churn out compliant but suitably skilled fodder for the business community.
  • Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. This faculty is now permanently closed and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Science: Studies in this faculty to be geared at improving GM crop yields in semi arid parts of South Australia.
  • Architecture and Engineering: We will will teach you underlings how to design chic blocks of flats that will make good investments for those clever enough to pass our Business or Law degrees.
  • Theology: We operate from the premise that the world is 6,000 years old, that church and state must be blurred and Islam must not be examined, but simply crushed. This faculty is continually upgraded thanks to our friends and sponsors from the Hillsong Church.
  • International Studies. The US is unquestioningly a force for good in this world.

Full course fees, payable by your parents, are required at the time of enrolment. No “special considerations” will be entered into in ANY circumstances.

Hey!! That sounds reeeeeally familiar!!!

I often lament over the fact I have yet to attend a Real University, rather than one that (regardless of the rhetoric, trust me, I was there) pretty much ticks all the above boxes. My dreams of not having a HECS debt ended up becoming a Fee-HELP nightmare and I really don’t have many good things to say about the “University” of Notre Dame Australia.

I recently discovered ND had released an Academic Freedom Policy. And oh, what a glorious example of witty, ironic, sarcasm-based humour it is!!!!

At least I assume it is… ’cause this schizzle canno’ be fo‘ real:

1. The University of Notre Dame Australia … is an integral part of the world-wide group of great Catholic universities, and follows academic freedom norms which are common in all such universities.

5. The University hopes and anticipates that most of its students and staff will support and contribute to the context of Catholic faith and values within which it functions as an institution of higher learning.

6. The University must be a liberal and unfettered place where the basic values and beliefs of Christians are exposed, explained, researched, debated, freely challenged, and openly affirmed or rejected.

Can it?

Well, at least with such clear and unambiguous terms, not, we don’t have to worry about it being binding on anyone.

Cause it (specifically number six) certainly didn’t apply to the Vice Chancellor when The Quasi tried to debate the morning-after pill, in a”fair and balanced” way with perspectives of a female student and a member of the School of Philosophy (who has since resigned, along with pretty much all of the best academic staff ND ever pretended to have).

This year’s PROSH put it so perfectly:

Notre Dame: All the downsides of Catholicism, none of the benefits of university.

Touché.

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Written by Sunili

16 April 2008 at 8:19 am

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