A Massey University professor is concerned the fallout from the cancellation of a Don Brash speaking event at the institution is damaging its reputation.
Former National Party leader Brash was meant to speak at the university in August, but vice-chancellor Jan Thomas cancelled the venue booking, citing security and other concerns. It was later revealed Thomas didn’t want the university to be seen endorsing racist behaviours. Brash was later allowed on campus.
Associate professor Grant Duncan, who teaches political theory and New Zealand politics, says the actions of the vice-chancellor and the university council have made the university, as well as academic and non-academic staff, look bad, even though it had nothing to do with them.
“From my point of view, the cancellation of Brash’s speech was an embarrassment to me and to the university,” Duncan said. “What surprises me is there has been no public apology, because I think New Zealanders and the academic community are owed an apology.
An apology would be an excellent thing to do.
David McNab is the co-president of the Massey University Extramural Students’ Society and he had two years on the university council, finishing in September.
He said he had spoken with some staff and there was a “chill in the air”, with people worried they needed to keep their mouths shut or risk jeopardising their career.
“People are concerned the brand of Massey University is being weakened by [it] being seen as a place where opinions can’t be fairly pursued and expressed. I am aware of a number of students transferring to other institutions.”
It is very apparent that if you have a view of the Treaty of Waitangi which differs from the university’s hierarchy, Massey is a very dangerous place to teach or study at.