Grant Miller from the Manawatu Standard writes:
By now, it will be clear to Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas that she has little support for her decision to stop former politician Don Brash from speaking on campus.
This would be OK if she made the right call. It should be obvious to Massey University’s governing body that she was badly astray. The question now is how it is going to restore its reputation as a credible university.
It is obvious that the VC will now back down. The Council needs to intervene. They are the governing body.
More than a mere public relations disaster, her disturbing decision and worrying decision-making rationale raises questions about her judgment and about the university’s values.
Does the university value a range of perspectives? To what extent are students free to think for themselves? Is the university in favour of robust debate?
The brand damage to Massey is massive. 40% of the population voted for Don Brash to be Prime Minister and Massey has banned him from speaking there. Do you think those people are going to want to have their kids go to Massey?
Thomas ought to face tough questions from her council.
Was her decision to ban Brash mostly politically motivated? Was it an impulsive decision? What has she learned from the debacle? Why is she still the right person to lead the institution?
Some are calling for her to be sacked. I don’t want her sacked. I want the ban rescinded and for her to apologise to Don Brash.
Unwittingly, she has insulted her staff. Are they unable to cope with ideas different from their own?
If they are unable, they should not be university staff. Claiming someone’s views make you feel unsafe is just a way to close down views you disagree with.
Massey has taught some interesting lessons this week. It showed that some universities pretend to be interested in free speech, but are much more interested in creating a culture of conformity. It provided a valuable case study in how referring to “hate speech” is not often about hate and is instead increasingly about control-freakery.
I tend to regard the appropriate definition of hate speech is “speech I hate”.