Dr Steve Elers, lecturer at Massey University, has recently been the subject of calls for disciplinary action after his final weekly column in the Manawatu-Standard. The Vice Chancellor also wrote an article qualifying Massey’s commitment to academic freedom in the wake of Dr Elers’s article. I sat down with Dr Elers to hear his side of the story, which you can listen to here.
Massey’s latest response to the exercise of academic freedom by a member of its faculty spins a confusing web around academics, when it should be protecting their rights to speak their opinions freely. The Vice Chancellor half-heartedly apologises for this by saying ‘we won’t always get it right’. The real question is, when will Massey get it right?
Massey’s Vice-Chancellor says she has a “commitment to diversity and inclusion”, and then proceeds to exclude the views of Dr Elers. If this is what “diversity and inclusion” looks like to Massey University, the entire academic community should be seriously concerned.
This all rides on the back of Harper’s letter co-signed by 150 prominent artists and writers on the frighteningly accelerated degradation of free speech in our democracies. Luminaries like Chomsky and Atwood are now actively calling for an end to the corrosive policies which Massey is naively and cheerfully subscribed.
Thinkers are beginning to realise that this PC-beast is eating all potential for good and honest debate – something that is necessary for learning and progress. Massey owes it to its students to prepare them for a world where disagreement is vigorous and ideas must be fought for. It is instead telling them what to think, and insulating them from dissent.
You can add Elers’s name to the growing list of academics that are concerned about this anti-educational trend. New Zealand’s universities and their donors should take heed.
Free Speech Coalition