Academic Freedom Neutered as Predicted

Back in April I warned that Peter Ridd’s victory would be short lived:

“Rather than accept the judge’s reasoning on academic freedom one suspects most universities will be running to their legal teams in order to double down on their Enterprise Agreements and redefine all clauses pertaining to academic freedom to ensure any future “Ridd” cases cannot happen again.”

According to Jo Nova the other day:

JCU has no commitment to free speech; they’ve now removed the clause that ensured Ridd won. In their minds, their mistake was not in being draconian, but being careless with legal clauses.”

Expect the Liberal Party to do nothing.

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17 Responses to Academic Freedom Neutered as Predicted

  1. Iampeter

    How is this a case of academic freedom being neutered?

    Are you saying, forcing universities to employ people they don’t want to, would be protecting academic freedom?

    “JCU has no commitment to free speech; they’ve now removed the clause that ensured Ridd won. In their minds, their mistake was not in being draconian, but being careless with legal clauses.”

    How does that violate free speech?

  2. Karabar

    I fear you are correct.
    That is why I no longer support the Coalition.
    But with Cory’s departure from AC, where do I turn?

  3. This is pretty much contradictory to what you said about the Folau case. The university has amended their contractual clause to reflect their mistake. I don’t agree one jot with the university, but now they have made it clear what, when and where staff can do or say. Clearly they are not interested in science or true academic endeavour.

    And why should the Liberal party do anything about this?

  4. Justinian the Great

    Not at all bemused, totally consistent.

    The business of a university is to enable a diversity of views and promote academic debate.

    Peter Ridd should not have been censured.

    The purpose of Rugby Australia is to promote and sell rugby and has nothing to do with social policy.

    Folau should not have been sacked.

    But organisations should have the right to sack people who cause demonstrable harm to their business.

    It just wasn’t fair or reasonable or justifiable in these two cases.

    Trying to conflate or elevate these issues into absolutes is absolute rubbish.

  5. 2dogs

    most universities will be running to their legal teams in order to double down on their Enterprise Agreements and redefine all clauses pertaining to academic freedom to ensure any future “Ridd” cases cannot happen again.

    Those clauses were originally forced into place in order to comply with clause 4.3 of the Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2011.

    There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent academic freedom clause in the new standards.

    I hope the Liberals fix this. I believe all it would take is a stroke of Dan Tehan’s pen.

  6. Tezza

    It remains to be seen (i) whether JCU is found to have to pay and/or reinstate Ridd. I gather they have missed the deadline to appeal the finding. They can’t undo that Ridd was within his rights under the JCU agreement as it stood at the time they sacked him. If it costs JCU dearly, that will strengthen Tehan’s hand.
    (ii) whether the whole vacuous voluntary code stuff that Justice French proposed will be turned into a obligatory code enforced by Commonwealth funding threats. On balance, probably not, but I wouldn’t rule out Tehan toughening his line, and JCU’s recalcitrance provides him with the excuse to do it. He will certainly wait to see other universities review their policies and conclude that they are just perfect before he would go the nuclear option.

  7. Muddy

    The business of a university is to enable a diversity of views and promote academic debate.

    The business of universities is to extend the role of the public schooling system, which is to train social conformity.
    Your use of the controversial and extreme word ‘debate’ has been reported to the appropriate authorities.

  8. 2dogs

    Looks like the 2015 standards have the following in clause 6.1, paragraph 4:

    4. The governing body takes steps to develop and maintain an institutional environment in which freedom of intellectual inquiry is upheld and protected, students and staff are treated equitably, the wellbeing of students and staff is fostered, informed decision making by students is supported and students have opportunities to participate in the deliberative and decision making processes of the higher education provider.

    I seems a little watered down, and being mixed in with “equitably” and “wellbeing” prevents it from standing on its own. Looks like academic freedom is in retreat courtesy of whichever bureaucrats wrote the new standards.

    And these new standards happened under the Liberals.

    If we see the new EBA’s squash academic freedom, Simon Birmingham will have a lot to answer for.

  9. Not at all bemused, totally consistent.

    The business of a university is to enable a diversity of views and promote academic debate.

    But organisations should have the right to sack people who cause demonstrable harm to their business.

    Firstly, a university is not a debating society, it is an institution of higher education where you go to learn about specific disciplines. Debate may be a part of that learning process, but it is not fundamental nor the business of a university.

    Secondly, the university had the right to censure Ridd, even though they were wrong in doing so, as the court case proved. The same applies to Folau and I hope he wins his case. Their argument (in both cases) about ‘demonstrable harm’ are/were invalid.

    Thirdly, you talk about small government, but then suggest that the solution to these issues (the university at least) is more government (interference). You can’t have it both ways.

    Consistent?

  10. Beachcomber

    Thirdly, you talk about small government, but then suggest that the solution to these issues (the university at least) is more government (interference).

    The solution to the problem with Universities is less government (funding), or ideally, no government (funding).
    If the Universities are able to survive without government funding then they can do as they wish. If they are not able to survive then western society is better off without them. They are doing far more harm than good.

  11. 2dogs

    If the Universities are able to survive without government funding then they can do as they wish.

    Exactly. The Higher Education Standards Framework are the conditions of federal funding of universities. Given the public has an interest in academic freedom, it is not wrong for those conditions to include it.

  12. Iampeter

    The business of a university is to enable a diversity of views and promote academic debate.

    No it’s not.

    But it’s good to see that you agree with identity politics and SJW’s.

    Also +1 to bemused’s posts. He is spot on.

  13. I don’t suppose there is any chance the government could make Federal funding conditional on the University having appropriate protection for researchers and academics to share knowledge and opinions without fear of academic or administrative reprisals?

  14. nfw

    Of course the liberal (sic) Party will do nothing. Can’t be offending the easily offended, Marxists, SJWs, hypocrites and those with their own vested interests, usually cash in hand or superannuation payments. The taxpayers who fund these institutions of higher indoctrination are not allowed to know how research is biased, twisted and manipulated to produce the socialist dream. They are after all simply the peasant class above which the “experts” rule in a self licking ice cream echo chamber.

  15. Ian of Brisbane

    The solution is simple, the feds to defund any uni tgat does not permit free speech.

  16. John A

    bemused #3065137, posted on June 28, 2019, at 5:06 pm

    This is pretty much contradictory to what you said about the Folau case. The university has amended their contractual clause to reflect their mistake. I don’t agree one jot with the university, but now they have made it clear what, when and where staff can do or say. Clearly they are not interested in science or true academic endeavour.

    As I understand the reports in Folau’s case, RA wanted to modify the contract terms to cover social media, but Izzy did not agree, there was therefore no meeting of the minds and so the contract remains as originally signed.

    In the case of university academics, the question now becomes whether the contracted staff will agree to the changes in the terms. I wonder how things will go at the time of the next contract reviews. This means that I am presuming the terms cannot be changed unilaterally by the Universities. If that were so, contracted terms would be little better than modern-day serfdom.

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