Universities shine in the contest of ideas (?)
Below is some complete and utter bullshit from Deborah Terry, chairwoman of Universities Australia. She describes what universities should do as if they actually did it. Far from shining in the contest of ideas, Australian universities avoid any contest of ideas.
If she really believes all that dribble, let her explain why the riot squad had to be called in order to disperse the student demonstrators who were blocking people who wanted to hear Bettina Arndt at the University of Sydney. Let her explain the Australia-wide difficulties Bettina has had even getting to book rooms for her talks
And what about the difficulty the Ramsay centre has had in being allowed to sponsor courses in Western civilization? There has been huge resistence to letting students hear anything about the history and ideas of Western civilization. What went wrong with the "contest of ideas" there? Censorship of ideas would be the accurate description.
I note that she gives no evidence that our Universities shine in the contest of ideas. Offering assertions without evidence is the nadir of scholarship. If she is the representative of Australian universities she discredits them. There is of course plenty of evidence that Australian Universities do NOT shine in the contest of ideas. I have just mentioned some. The woman has her head in a dark place. She is suffering from a severe case of loss of reality contact
Australia’s universities have been on the public record through the decades affirming our commitment to informed evidence-based discussion and vigorous debate.
As institutions, we nurture the skills of our students to debate ideas, develop their critical thinking skills and engage with a wide array of views — including those with which they agree and those with which they disagree.
The exercise of free speech applies to both proponents and opponents of controversial ideas.
You need only to look to democracy-defending protests around the world to see this in action. Surely the ideal is for a vigorous engagement and contest of ideas, passionately and peacefully expressed.
Under wider Australian law, freedom of speech is not without limitation or caveat. There are, for example, prohibitions on hate speech and discrimination, as well as laws on defamation.
University students and staff are, of course, subject to these wider laws, like the rest of the Australian population.
The skill of being able to engage in vigorous debate without suspending courtesy is one that our students will need if they are to succeed in the workplace and the world.
The French review reminds us that the mission of universities includes responsibility for the maintenance of scholarly standards in teaching, learning and research.
Hence universities teach students to seek out and weigh evidence, test and verify, and to form cogent arguments drawing on that evidence. At the same time, our university researchers keenly examine and respectfully debate ideas, new paradigms, evidence and conclusions.
Universities play a fundamental role in the health of open, democratic societies worldwide. Australia’s universities are ever vigilant in defence of our democratic freedoms.