Massey University review clears chancellor over Brash ‘ban’

I’m suspicious of inquiry and review reports being made public just before Christmas – a time thought to be good to bury news as people are distracted by Christmas and holidays.

Putting something to a review in the first place sometimes seems to have a purpose of defusing and even burying contentious issues.

Another review has just been released:  Review clears Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas over Don Brash ban

A review has cleared Massey University vice-chancellor Jan Thomas of wrongdoing in cancelling a Don Brash speaking event.

Brash and Thomas have been at the centre of a freedom-of-speech debate since former National Party leader Brash was prevented from speaking at the university’s Manawatū campus in August.

Thomas cancelled the venue booking for Brash’s planned visit, citing security and other concerns, but it was later revealed Thomas didn’t want the university to be seen endorsing racist behaviours, and she was uncomfortable with Brash’s leadership of lobby group Hobson’s Pledge.

Consulting firm Martin Jenkins reviewed the decision to cancel the event and the following fallout.

The review found Thomas did not intend to stop the event before a security threat was made and that she didn’t lie about the reasons for cancelling the booking.

But it said she did not fully explore alternative options, which opened the university up to criticism about the potential security threat not being genuine.

It didn’t just ‘open up the university’ to speculation and criticism, they were blasted.

The review recommended if the university were to face similar circumstances it should thoroughly assess the threat before deciding whether to cancel the use of a venue.

“This process, the criteria for the assessment, and who should provide such an assessment should be part of a formal university policy,” the report read.

Perhaps they could set up a review to assess any urgent threats, and release the report on the review several months later.

Brash is still critical.

Brash found the report’s findings “profoundly disappointing”.

“It’s a document that seems to whitewash what the vice-chancellor did and to my mind the behaviour at the time was disgraceful by the vice-chancellor.

“Does the vice-chancellor believe in free speech or not? That’s the profound and fundamental question.

“The report seems to say ‘not necessarily’ – if free speech conflicts with the vice-chancellor’s interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Brash, who wasn’t contacted for the review, thought the report would have expressed concern about the way things were handled.

I guess Thomas was contacted for the review, so at least she had an opportunity to defend her actions.

Thomas has said it wasn’t a ban, but an event cancellation.

Use whatever semantics you like, but Thomas made it clear she thought that it wasn’t appropriate for Brash, an ex party leader, to speak to a political group at Massey about politics. And her cancellation of the event ensured Brash couldn’t speak on campus ()he has since been to Massey to speak).

 

 

 

 

35 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  December 21, 2018

    Jan Thomas rooted her own reputation & that of Massey University as a place of learning where free speech flourishes – as it needs to in academia. That’s all there is there ain’t no more.

    • Ray

       /  December 21, 2018

      The word “whitewash” springs to mind, don’t know why.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  December 21, 2018

        It did to my mind, too, and I can’t think why, either.

        After all, a cancellation and a ban are quite different, aren’t they ?

        • Nookin

           /  December 21, 2018

          After all, a cancellation and a ban are quite different, aren’t they ?

          Actually, I think that they are quite different. An event is cancelled if the organisation convening the event terminates it. In this case, I understand that it was the Students’ Association that was the host. Jan Thomas did not cancel the event. She withdrew the permission of the student association to use university property for an event of which she did not approve. This was not a total withdrawal of rights of user. It was specific to one particular event. That, whichever way you look at it, is a ban.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  December 21, 2018

            I was being sarcastic; a ban can be a cancellation, of course, but a cancellation (because of unforeseen circs) isn’t a ban. They are nitpicking and playing with words. It was a cancellation, in the most literal sense, but to call it that gives it a different shade of meaning.

  2. lurcher1948

     /  December 21, 2018

    What another failure for the right,they are like the NZ cricket team lost the election and its all downhill from there…dont mention the poll,its due to flip again

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  December 21, 2018

      The Right has nothing to do with Massey, Lurch. It’s in the hands of Lefty fuckwits and stewing in its own juices accordingly.

      • Duker

         /  December 21, 2018

        What about some years back (2011? )when Hone Harawira , while still an MP was banned from Auckland University law school over ‘security concerns’ raised by young nats .
        Farrar at the time went all gaga over ‘the right to protest’ – could find his free speech cojones apparently.

        • alloytoo

           /  December 21, 2018

          “‘security concerns’ raised by young nats ”

          An assertion not even supported by the links you provided. You really need to fact check the scripts your commissar before going out in public.

          • Duker

             /  December 21, 2018

            yes it does
            “Law student Charlotte Summers said the Faculty of Law cancelled the lecture on the basis of “there may be a breach of the peace”.
            She said the Young Nationals organisation was behind the protest.”

            It was a cause celebre amoung the right wing blogs at the time- all about the ‘right to protest’ of course.

            YNZ was started a month later so unable to see if PG commented on the issue. Farrar didnt seem to want anything to do with ‘freedom speech ‘ back then
            https://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/05/the_right_to_protest.html
            A total hypocrite of course

            • The Consultant

               /  December 21, 2018

              From the link that “Duker” provided are the following comments from DPF himself:

              But don’t you love the reaction of the law school, and the quoted law student. They cancelled the lecture because people may have protested.

              So DPF actually does support the right to protest and thinks the lawschool was being gutless in giving in to them.

              Which is exactly the same position he holds about Massey university, although he’s extending too much good will to the latter, who clearly used the excuse of a protest to ban a speaker they wanted to ban anyway.

              This is in the same week that the Supreme Court upheld the right of someone to burn the NZ flag on ANZAC Day (a decision which I actually agree with). So it is okay to burn the NZ flag on ANZAC day, but it is wrong and racist to protest against Hone Harawira.

              Sure sounds like DPF supports free speech. And as another example from that link of the difference between the two situations:

              The Facebook page about the protest is here. Having had a brief look I don’t see any suggestion they were going to go into the lecture and shout Hone down. They were going to protest outside, and they specifically said that if any go inside, “we will give Hone a chance to speak, we will listen and we will ask constructive questions while expressing our displeaure in his racial hatred and gutter politics”.

              So even the dreaded Young Nationals were more than willing to give Hone a chance to vent his racist spleen – unlike the Massey folks that Duker fully supports, who were intent on shutting down Brash using any weapon to hand.

              Duker, the only living Cyclops in 2018. But a Labour Cyclops – so it’s all good then. 🙂

            • Duker

               /  December 21, 2018

              What Farrar means that Right of protest against Harawira is to encouraged, some how its his fault it was cancelled by the law school. His ‘thin skin’ and all..
              No where is is stated those protesting where the reason the law school ‘de platformed Harawira’
              This was the same ‘Free Speech Coalition’ guy who lied with his ads around NZ

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 21, 2018

    This simply further degrades Massey’s reputation. What a pack of incompetent losers.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  December 21, 2018

      It needn’t have; her career is not worth the university’s degraded reputation when they defend the indefensible.

  4. lurcher1948

     /  December 21, 2018

    It’s all those damn Maoris fault,hobsons pledge,a racists comfort blanket

  5. artcroft

     /  December 21, 2018

    Clearly a good firm to use when you need an investigation to reach a particular conclusion.

  6. adamsmith1922

     /  December 21, 2018

    In the conext of the massey report, some may find this Inteeligence Squared debate of interest https://adamsmith.wordpress.com/2018/12/20/intelligence-squared-free-speech-is-threatened-on-campus/

  7. George

     /  December 21, 2018

    Shut Massey down except for the Vet school

  8. PartisanZ

     /  December 21, 2018

    I understood Righties not only liked but indeed survived and thrived on ‘consultancy’? It’s not Lefties who’ve created a Consultantocracy in this country.

    Massey have done the ‘Right’ thing, surely? Employed a private consulting firm to review their own decision, that of a their public-private educator ‘leader’?

    “The report seems to say ‘not necessarily’ – if free speech conflicts with the vice-chancellor’s interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.”

    There’s the rub. Everything in this country depends on Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Hence we need “clarity and certainty” in its interpretation … like we’d get in a written Constitution …

    Without it, unfortunates like Jan Thomas will have to impose their own interpretations … which is rather a lot like what Don Brash & cohorts do at Hobson’s Pledge et al … is it not?

  9. The Consultant

     /  December 21, 2018

    Seems the appropriate thread for this recent article by historian Victor Hanson, who specialises in Ancient Greek and military history, The Liberal Arts Weren’t Murdered — They Committed Suicide. The article deals with the issue of the relentless decline in the numbers of people studying various Humanities subjects in US university, where they’re referred to instead as Liberal Arts. Not the first article – there’s a link to an article from The Atlantic that deals with this – but the particular trigger for Hanson’s piece is a recent decision by the University of Wisconsin to drop majors in geography, French, German, two- and three-dimensional art — and history.

    Hanson points out that this has happened not because the university hates these subjects or purely as a bottom-line decision, but simply because there is no longer enough interest in them:

    [the article] highlighted a popular perception that emphases in literature, history, or languages lead nowhere for cash-strapped graduates but to more debt and fewer jobs. Yet what the article on official university policy misses is why students do not concentrate in the liberal arts in the fashion of the past.

    It’s not just about students running a cost/benefit assessment:

    In the case of history, few increasingly wish to sit in a class where the past becomes tedious melodrama rather than complex tragedy, a sort of reeducation camp in which modern standards of suburban orthodoxy time-travel to the past in order to judge materially impoverished historical figures or pivotal events as either culpable or exonerated.

    In other words, it’s not just that you end up with $120K of debt for a degree that can’t get you a job, but you also end up with a degree that’s little more than a template for rote boilerplate.

    Sounds like Massey is well into that same hole and digging fast. As another commentator noted, just close it down apart from the Vet School.

  10. Trevors_Elbow

     /  December 21, 2018

    Whoever manufactures white wash in NZ had better get an extra shift on – Hauhama and Thomas clean up jobs have run the stocks way down…..

    i was considering Massey for a second degree done part time for fun… but I wouldn’t more cash in their account now if they were giving large amounts of cash back as an incentive…

    martin jenkins – a good name to avoid in the future….

  11. duperez

     /  December 21, 2018

    This year I’ve learned that we shouldn’t have Reviews, Reports, Inquiries, Working Parties to ‘look at,’ Investigations or anything like them.

    They will invariably be not thorough, be incomplete, have poor terms of reference, be done by someone lacking in expertise or wisdom, be short-sighted, will state the obvious and not address what obviously need to be addressed, will come up with conclusions and recommendations to be expected from someone with bias, and will be expensive.

    Unless they say what we want to hear.

  12. Gezza

     /  December 21, 2018

    I wondered how many of those protestors who subsequently turned up to try and shout Brash down (winning him a debate he should have lost) at Auckland Uni had ever even been to University.

    I never went. People who’d been kept telling me, years back: “I dunno why you never went to University, mate. You’re smart enuf.”

    But I’d had enuf of school, a consistent high scorer in my early years, with the onset of puberty my marks were plunging, I thought I’d fail at Uni, and I was often abysmally shy, lacking in self-confidence (despite outward appearances) and plagued with anxiety at that time. I just couldn’t have handled it.

    However I did get persuaded somewhere along the line after moaning about work to go along to a Vic Uni evening one night to see if I might be interested in attending as an adult student. I wound up talking to a tutor briefly about Treaty Settlements and I held forth a strongly held opinion on the matter.

    “Oh”, she said. “That’s very interesting. Why do you think that?”

    “Huh?” “Umm …. ”

    And I came away realising that Universities should teach you how to think. Not what to think.

    • david in aus

       /  December 21, 2018

      In issues regarding the Treaty of Waitangi, Universities are institutions of indoctrination and not of expanding knowledge.
      When I was a student at Auckland Uni, the ‘principles of the TOW’ was the dogma and compulsory. Many of us thought it was horseshit with the contrived nonsense from the UN’s Indigenous policy documents supporting these ‘principles’.

      Because most of us wanted good marks, we had write essays saying how we all agreed with the mantra. Listening to the idealogues giving the lectures I was not confident a well-argued piece of writing that did not conform to their views would be conducive to anything but poor grades.

      I studied in the Sciences but even there we were not free from the Left-wing ideologues.
      Now I am doing Online Uni study for personal fulfillment, I looked at Massey but went with a top UK university at twice the price. I know there, the Treaty of Waitangi is not on the syllabus.

      • Gezza

         /  December 21, 2018

        That’s interesting because that Vic tutor I spoke to wasn’t like that at all. She got me interested in going away and finding out more about our history and the treatment of Maori by settler governments. She didn’t shove a viewpoint down my throat. One of the best short discussions I ever had with anybody.

        • David in aus

           /  December 21, 2018

          That is what it should be. An academic worth their salt should mark work on their academic merits and not whether it conforms to the marker’s suppositions. I am sure there are many academics with integrity but there also are many like the Vice Chancellor.

      • PartisanZ

         /  December 21, 2018

        @David in aus – “I looked at Massey but went with a top UK university at twice the price. I know there, the Treaty of Waitangi is not on the syllabus.”

        Hence what you are studying is partially irrelevant to Aotearoa New Zealand …

        What is any study, any ‘discipline’, without context?

        • PartisanZ

           /  December 21, 2018

          Perhaps “irrelevant” is not a strong enough word …?

          What you are studying might be “personally fulfilling” like Thanksgiving is to the White Man in America?

          https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/massachusetts/articles/2018-11-19/400-years-after-pilgrim-landing-natives-finally-being-heard

        • david in aus

           /  December 21, 2018

          I am studying Public Health. The University in the UK has Global health stream for what it is worth.

          The Treaty of Waitangi is a political construct and has little to do with health outcomes. Unless you blame poor Maori health outcomes on an interpretation of a 180-year-old document. That is too pessimistic a view for me. Because one has to accept poor health outcomes for the foreseeable future or overthrow New Zealand political system, which is not realistic.

          Public health is a global subject, we can learn plenty from how Ebola was managed in Africa to how health care systems differ around the world. The Treaty of Waitangi tells us little about health in my view. As a parallel: Aboriginal’s poor health outcomes was not due to the presence or absence of the TOW.

          Its presence in the syllabus is to emphasize the primacy of Maoridom in NZ society. It about Left-wing values of some groups being more valuable than others, especially those considered virtuous (repressed). It is against my personal beliefs that all lives have equal value.

    • Duker

       /  December 21, 2018

      It was open for the public…. not just university types.

      • Gezza

         /  December 21, 2018

        Yes. I know. But I still wonder how many of them had been to university.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  December 21, 2018

          I loved Vic and have many happy memories of the great lecturers and tutors like Bill Manhire, Harry Orsman, Frank MacKay, Winifred Hall, Reg Tye, Judith (lost the name) and many others….

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  December 21, 2018

            Tiresome PDTs, can’t stand anyone who knows more than they do, which must be almost everyone.