Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search

 


Attempt to silence staff at Lincoln University condemned

Media release
Academic Freedom Aotearoa
2 April 2014

Academic Freedom Aotearoa condemns attempt to silence staff at Lincoln University

Lincoln University staff received an email from the university's communications team today instructing them to not respond to media requests for comment on proposed restructuring plans.

Tertiary Education Union Lincoln branch president, Stuart Larsen said that "this was a surprise to us. It appears to imply that academic staff have to ask them for permission to exercise their civil and academic rights."

The effects of the earthquakes in Canterbury continue to have massive financial implications for the polytechnical institutes and universities of the region. These institutions are struggling to find solutions but have been unable to avoid forced redundancies.

"We are told that staff are from time to time being pressured to not respond to requests for comment from the media. To suggest that staff cannot make comment without permission might be a breach of their rights and obligations under the Education Act," said Prof. Jack Heinemann, co-chair of Academic Freedom Aotearoa (AFA).

The United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), of which New Zealand is a founding member, says unequivocally that "higher-education teaching personnel are entitled…to express freely their opinion about the institution or system in which they work, freedom from institutional censorship…".

"While no staff or students can speak for the university without the authority of the vice-chancellor, it may be reasonable for some staff and students of the university to make informed and responsible comment on internal events at the university."

"We encourage our AFA members at Lincoln to consider whether the comments they wish to make should be associated with their appointment at the university. However, media managers and policy do not have greater authority than the Education Act or New Zealand's international obligations to UNESCO," Heinemann said.

"To serve as critic and conscience of society is often an uncomfortable experience. It carries risk of retribution. The risk never higher than when the critique is aimed at your own employer. AFA exists in part to challenge those who create risk for academic staff and students expressing informed and responsible critique of social relevance, no matter who is being criticised."

"The conditions in Canterbury remain challenging. The staff of the universities continue to deliver world class learning opportunities for students and perform high impact research. There are none who have let the earthquakes prevent them from meeting their obligations to society.

"Likewise, they will not allow the events to be used as an excuse to unjustly censure or stifle them. Their obligations to serve as critic and conscience are as prominent in the Education Act as are teaching and research. Neither earthquakes nor managers will keep academic staff and students from their duties," concluded Heinemann.

"We encourage the university to explain their position to staff and community. We also fully support our members in their right to act in their positions and capacity as the critics and conscience of society," Larsen said.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Review: Henry Rollins Burning Down The House

With his lantern jaw, close-cropped hair, and muscle-bound physique, Henry Rollins could not be further from the US Marine image his appearance might suggest. More>>

A Series Of Tubes: 150 Years Of The Cook Strait Cable

“It was a momentous achievement for its time. The successful connection came on the third attempt at laying the cable, and followed a near disaster when the first cable snapped - almost destroying the ship Weymouth in the process,” says Ms Adams. More>>

ALSO:

February 2017: Guns N' Roses - New Zealand Dates Announced

Founder Axl Rose and former members, Slash and Duff McKagan have regrouped for one of the century’s most anticipated tours... Rolling Stone said: "This was the real thing, the thing we'd all been waiting for: the triumphant return of one of the most important bands to cross rock music history. And it happened in our lifetime.” More>>

Werewolf: Brando, Peckinpah And Billy The Kid

Gordon Campbell: Initially, One-Eyed Jacks was supposed to have been directed by Stanley Kubrick from a script by Sam Peckinpah – yet it quickly became Brando’s baby... More>>

Book Awards: ANZAC Heroes Wins Margaret Mahy Book Of The Year

“Simply stunning, with gold-standard production values,” say the judges of the winner of this year’s Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award in the prestigious New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. ANZAC Heroes is also the winner of the Elsie Locke Award for the Best Book in the Non-Fiction category. More>>

Baby Animals: Hamilton Zoo Rhino Calf Named

Hamilton Zoo’s latest rhino calf has been named Samburu and he's being celebrated with a unique zoo experience... Samburu arrived after his mother Kito’s 16-month pregnancy and the calf brings the number of white rhinos at Hamilton Zoo to six. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Education
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news