The latest politically correct madness at the University of Sydney — gender, race, sexuality, and class background quotas at the nation’s oldest debating club — is another demonstration of the extent to which ‘Unlearn U’ has mainlined postmodern identity politics.
It isn’t just the violation of core liberal principles of merit, equality of opportunity, and respect for the individual that is of concern — despite later day converts to the diversity agenda dismissing the importance of such ‘philosophical beliefs’.
What is also at stake are the foundational freedoms of speech and thought which universities ought to uphold as bastions of civil debate, rational discussion, and intellectual freedom.
Underpinning identity politics is an ideological agenda that seeks to shape, set and enforce the boundaries of acceptable, as opposed to so-called offensive ‘racist, patriarchial or homophobic or transphobic’ thought and speech.
This is creating a hostile and intolerant intellectual environment for students with the ‘wrong identity’: witness the Student Union-led a counter protest that took violent direct action to ‘unlearn’ conservative students who supported traditional marriage at Sydney University during last year’s marriage equality plebiscite campaign.
Australian universities are highly likely to follow the US path towards a full-blown campus free-speech crisis unless intellectual freedom is properly protected.
This should be the responsibility of university governors. But greater external accountability may be required, given the propensity of modern administrators to indulge in identity politics and view their mission as making universities less “old, white, male”.
Perhaps it is time to investigate requiring universites to sign up and comply with — as a condition of taxpayer funding — a charter of intellectual freedom, which could be based on the University of Chicago’s Stone Committee Report of 2015 on freedom of thought and expression at the university
Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn.
These words would serve as worthy credo for all Australian universities — if they are to remain worthy of that name.
21 September 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre
The education debate at the next federal election is shaping up to be about the magnitude of future school funding increases: the Coalition want a big increase, Labor…
19 September 2018 | Australian Financial Review
NAPLAN and My School were introduced for good reasons and continue to serve an important purpose. Yet they are constantly under threat from powerful players in education policy…
14 September 2018 | Ideas@TheCentre
Smart phones have become a big educational talking point. This year, the French government banned the use of mobile phones in schools, while the New York City department…
Full Name (including Title) *
Email Address *