A Crisis in Education at QUT?  (2007+)

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Introduction +





Controversy erupted in June 2007 about the Queensland University of Technology's (QUT's) suspension of two senior staff for public criticism of the content of a PhD student's project and of the QUT processes that approved it [1, 2, 3].

Their most public criticism was an article in The Australian ('Philistines of relativism at the gates') that focused on the PhD project's relationship with postmodernism [1].

Specifically  the academics suggested that:
  • postmodernist, post-structuralist thought produces misanthropic and amoral trash - of which the PhD project was cited as an example and for which academic supervisors and QUT processes were mainly to blame;
  • popular culture was introduced to academia to 'slay the dragon' of high culture - but this was achieved long ago. Now the roles are reversed, and any emphasis on literary heritage is ridiculed;
  • cultural studies is in the grip of 'radical philistines'. This has led to the collapse of English studies, graduates with little knowledge of literary heritage, and a decline in QUT's moral fabric;
  • educational institutions are beset with wilful ignorance;
  • it is no longer acceptable to refer to knowledge, theory, truth - as these are seen as simply personal assumptions. However:
  • taking meaningful political action, acting morally / ethically, teaching how to live or make good art, requires knowing right and wrong / true and false;
  • the alternative to moral relativism and postmodernists' dumbing down is aesthetic and moral education. Moreover aesthetics requires access  to the best past work that is available, and this is anti-relativist;

Following their suspension, another QUT staff member published an article on ABC News Opinion asserting that a 'climate of fear' exists at the QUT - ie that staff or students who express critical views fear that they will be penalized.

The 'climate  of fear' article suggested, among many other things, that:
  • a college refused to say anything about the debate (except that all the facts had not come out), because the QUT's Manual for Policy and Procedures (MOPP) prevented him doing so;
  • two senior QUT academics had been found guilty of misconduct and suspended for 6 months without pay after: criticising a PhD candidate's film about disabled men; writing to The Australian; and criticising supervisors and the QUT's ethical clearance process;
  • some say that QUT and the PhD student have not told their side of the story, but they had many opportunities;
  • the PhD candidate refuses to show his film again.
  • some who work with disabled people believe that the film was 'wrong';
  • QUT has a climate of fear where academics can't / won't express a view;
  • if the penalty applied was not to discourage free speech, but about misconduct, then those now afraid to speak haven't got the message;
  • the article in The Australian upset QUT - and there was apparently a determination that those involved would pay.

To provide an internal-to-QUT perspective, comment submitted to the ABC Online Opinion web-site about the 'climate  of fear' claim has been outlined below.

In brief this present document:

  • outlines what public comments on the 'climate  of fear' article have to say about both:
    • the dispute (where support was evident for both sides); and
    • the QUT environment (where 'climate of fear' claims were both endorsed and disputed, and where many simply indicated confusion);
  • suggests that the dispute and general QUT environment are symptoms of broad issues that needs attention if universities are to properly contribute to the community (eg the nature of social 'knowledge' which is a core product for universities, and parallels with similar problems elsewhere); and
  • presents comments on the policy questions underlying those symptoms (eg related problems in public administration; the failure by university reformers to take account of the growing real-world importance of big-picture humanities' issues; and unexplored implications of postmodernism).

It is concluded that a fundamental issue of epistemology (ie the nature of knowledge) is the real subject in dispute..

Thus, whether or not the PhD project that triggered the dispute or the way it was criticised is acceptable, the very public attack by senior academics on post-modern approaches to social knowledge that the QUT officially supports (and subsequent events) indicate the existence of an educational crisis within QUT.

Public Comments in Brief

What Public Commentators Said

In relation to the dispute generated by the PhD project and the academics' suspension, public comments on the 'climate of fear' article variously:

  • suggest that the PhD project had been misunderstood [1, 2, 3, 4]; 
  • support the academics who had criticised the project [eg 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6];
  • argue that QUT administration was correct in disciplining them for doing so [1, 2, 3, 4,];
  • claim that neither side really had the interests of the disabled at heart [1];
  • identify a conflict between what the academics' consciences demanded of them, and the formal requirements of QUT's Manual of Policies and Procedures (MOPP) [1]. Moreover the latter was seen to be: complex [1, 2]; mandatory [1]; and unable to deal with complex realities [1];
  • suggest there were no clear answers to the issues involved, and that the case was mis-managed by QUT - as it should have been used to explore the complexities involved and to learn [1]; and
  • call for a public inquiry into what is going on [1, 2, 3].

In relation to the general environment at QUT, those public comments also indicate:

  • support for the 'climate of fear' claim [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] - or at least for the perception that staff and student concerns about QUT can't be communicated to its management [1]; 
  • disagreement with such claims [1, 2, 3, 4]; and
  • general confusion about what is actually going on [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].
Behind the Symptoms

Looking Behind the Symptoms

This dispute seems to involve more significant issues than are apparent on the surface. For example:

  • the criticism directed at the PhD project and QUT policies raised issues that are central to how universities function, because:
    • in simple terms, post-modernism / post-structuralism / relativism involve a radically unconventional approach to social knowledge - one that rejects the notion of public 'truth'. Rather than perceiving independent objectivity (which philosophers might call 'realism' ie that ideas should reflect an external 'reality'), social knowledge is seen primarily as a reflection of internal human biases and assumptions (which might be called 'idealism');
    • a university's core business is dealing with advanced knowledge - and the very nature of what universities produce ('knowledge') is being contested;
    • knowledge is the key factor in modern theories of economic growth [1, 2] and the core of policies now promoted by all governments for increasing economic productivity (eg consider Queensland's Smart State and the federal 'Backing Australia's Ability' programs). The way in which knowledge is handled (eg by universities) is critical to the success or failure of such aspirations. Not all societies regard 'knowledge' the same way, and this can make a huge difference to their economic prospects;
    • cultural issues, whose current academic directions The Australian article deplored, are now very important in global and domestic politics (see below);

    • one observer suggested that incompatible ideologies (which made real communication between the two sides impossible) were involved in the dispute [1]. Another argued that the underlying issue is political [1];
  • QUT's Vice Chancellor is reportedly passionately dedicated to the success of a Creative Industries function within the QUT [1]. In some ways this is an 'idealist' alternative (ie one whose insights are derived internally) to the humanities schools (whose insights are derived externally from study of society). The latter were the first-established functions, and traditional core, of universities - which the QUT is now proposing to phase out (a fact that some observers saw as linked to the dispute [1, 2], though others disagreed [1]);
  • both the senior academics and the QUT administration appear to have seen the issues involved as very important. For example:
    • there were many options available to the academics to raise concerns about the PhD project internally and discretely, as it was at a very early stage [1, 2, 3], yet they chose to go public. One observer suggested that a 'toxic environment' within QUT left them no other option [1]; 
    • some argue that the penalty the QUT applied for their public criticism was exceptionally severe [1, 2, 3] (though not all do so);
  • parallels were drawn by some observers with management deficiencies in public services [1, 2], and it was suggested that universities are now also run on 'managerialist' lines, by persons who are hostile to universities' traditions of free speech [1]. [An aside: In simple terms 'managerialism' involves the assumption that management is a generalist function that requires no depth of knowledge of the specialities that are being managed];
  • an intolerance of critical comment was seen to exist in other universities [1, 2];
  • academics were seen to need more accountability, though what this means depends on whether universities are primarily means for stimulating learning and debate - or businesses [1].
CPDS Comments

CPDS Comments on Broader Issues Related to the Dispute 

Firstly, there is a need to consider further the parallels being drawn between the dysfunctions that now allegedly prevail in both QUT and government - ie a bias towards 'political correctness' (ie insisting that others accept the preferences of those in power as 'truth'), bullying of staff and passive compliance by those who want to survive.

It appears that:

  • the Queensland Government's web-site presents an Ethics Handbook and a (now outdated) Policy Handbook which seem very similar to QUT's MOPP - in that they are complex, idealistic and highly prescriptive. In the case of the state government, these documents had their genesis under the Goss administration - and they provide help in understanding the dysfunctions and crises that Queensland's administration has since suffered. For example,
    • policy seems to be derived 'idealistically' (ie as what politicians want) rather than 'realistically' (ie as what has to be done because of practical constraints) and consultation is emphasised with interest groups rather than with technical specialists;
    • the Ethics Handbook hampers effective action - because it imposes a highly prescriptive 'moral law', and thus impedes ethical judgments appropriate to unexpected circumstances. It is further noted that:
      • the importance of a simple basis for ethical behaviour (ie love for others) is discussed in Competing Civilizations;
      • there are many indications that 'authorities' are being pressured to control of the morality of individual behaviour in Australia - see Moral Foundations of Individual Liberty. Documents like the Ethics Handbook are another step towards limiting individual liberty (and the political / economic benefits it brings);
      • the Ethics Handbook implies something like the moral legalism that Arabic scholars claim that the Quran imposes on Muslim dominated societies - which seems to be a major feature of their inability to achieve the rate of change that material prosperity requires in recent centuries;
  • a 'climate of fear' similar to that alleged to exist in the QUT emerged in the Queensland public sector at the time of the Goss administration - as suggested in the following (all quite similar) documents:
    • Driven to Distraction (June 2002)- which outlined a history of the breakdown of the Westminster tradition of an independent professional public service, and the growth of widespread bullying;
    • 'Plague of bullies' (April 2005) - which suggests that, in an environment in which there is no serious requirement for 'senior' staff to have professional credibility, bullying of well-informed subordinates becomes virtually the only management option; 
    • More Silencing and Scapegoating of Public Service Employees? (May 2005) - which highlights the culture of intimidation, secrecy and silencing of staff which was a major feature of the crisis that engulfed Queensland's hospitals; and
    • C'mon Pete its time for action (June 2005) - which suggests that the bullying culture in the public service is a product of its politicisation, and can't be overcome by central political oversight;
  • an emphasis on compliance with rules (whether or not doing so accords with common sense, practical needs or leading-edge thinking) appears to be a general consequence of managerialism (ie where 'senior' staff know little of the complexities of the functions they are supposed to be managing);

  • because of the traditional weakness of contributions to understanding of public policy issues by civil institutions (including  universities), Queensland's political establishment (including state Cabinet, and the boards of directors of institutions such as the QUT) have little basis for telling when their cronies who speak the rhetoric of trendy reforms aren't as clever or capable as they claim to be - eg see Queensland's Weak Parliament (1999), The Effect of Public Service Politicisation (1999) and Superficial Accountability (2007). 

Secondly the direction of university 'reform' in Australia seems as counter-productive as that in public services.

That direction has notionally been to force teaching and research to make a greater economic contribution (as part of 'Smart State' or Backing Australia's Ability' type agendas) - particularly by making university functions more business-like and market responsive.

For example, the QUT's plan to phase out its humanities functions seemed to be partly rationalised by their inability to attract sponsorship. Moreover, in response to the controversy, the Director of the ARC's Centre for Excellence in Creative Industries and Innovation pointed out [1] that:

  • QUT's philosophy is to embody pure disciplinary inputs into professional applications;
  • pure humanities functions must not be eroded by management fiat or post-modern relativism,  but there must be a market for such 'non-market' disciplines to justify undertaking them;
  • while not everyone likes the Creative Industries approach, student numbers and research interest are high - so the QUT must be doing something right.

The problem is that:

  • the basis philosophy underpinning university reforms is weak - because Queensland's / Australia's main obstacle to development of knowledge-based industries has been and is a lack of commercial competence and organization in the mainstream economy to productively use even the knowledge and skills that are already available - see Commentary on 'Smart State' and The Economic Futility of 'Backing Australia's Ability 2'. Moreover:
    • apart from industrial liaison and intellectual property policies, boosting Australia's innovation performance was not critically dependent on changes in universities. Rather it mainly required changes in the mainstream market economy using more effective techniques for accelerating economic development (eg see Defects in Economic Tactics, Strategy and Outcomes, 2000);
    • the most obvious result of adopted innovation strategies has been idealistically-driven attempts to increase the availability of 'smart' inputs to an economic system that has an unnecessarily limited ability to use them productively or to provide strong demand signals to indicate what inputs would really be most productive;
  • universities' humanities' functions need rejuvenation because:
    • humanities were the original source of the ideas about government Australia inherited - and Australia's system currently seems to be struggling (see Australia's Governance Crisis, 2003) - and perhaps now needs a first-principles review;
    • culture has many real-world consequences being, for example, a key determinant of peoples' ability to be materially successful (see Competing Civilizations, 2001), and failure to consider those consequences contributes to:
      • in inability to really help societies who suffer political or economic failures as a result of dysfunctional cultural assumptions, or to provide militants with any way to understand their society's problems other than by blaming  external oppression (as Al Qaida does) (op cit); 
      • the great difficulties that have been experienced in dealing with The Challenge of Aboriginal Advancement;
      • the emergence of global financial imbalances (see Structural Incompatibility Puts Global Growth at Risk, 2003), that the Bank of International Settlements now warns could lead to a depression similar to that in the 1930s;
      • an inability to deal adequately with the global refugee crisis (see Complexities in the Refugee Problem, 2001);
      • difficulties in developing an effective global system of governance (see The Second Failure of Globalization?, 2003)
    • major external challenges are emerging to the ideals and values on which Australia's society and political institutions are based (eg from Asia - see China as the Future of the World?);
  • the poor quality of Queensland's political system (and abuses of power within government) are largely a consequence of a lack of apolitical institutions able to provide leadership to the community and sound material for debate by their elected representatives. While accountability procedures are built into government machinery, these achieve little if those who are able to question executive government have no way to know what questions need to be asked (see Superficial Accountability);
  • while the creative arts have a constructive role in society, the Creative Industries thrust within QUT may be based on an over-estimate of the value of such functions (see The Value of Creativity and Culture, and 'Creative Culture' in Brisbane);

Finally post-modern / relativist assumptions about knowledge have much more complex implications than have been recognised. As noted above, differences about this seem to be central to the crisis that has emerged at QUT.

It also needs to be considered that:

  • real limitations on traditional epistemologies have given rise to post-modern / relativist assumptions. However attempts to apply them raises a huge number of practical problems (see Eroding the West's Foundations). For example:
    • if ideas are considered valid because someone believes them, rather than because they usefully describe some external reality then there is no possibility of identifying 'public truth' and thus no point in political debate - so those with social / political power should autocratically and ruthlessly enforce their own assumptions;
    • such 'idealism' is strongly reflected in the state government's Policy Handbook (ie we act on what we wish for, rather than what is required by some external reality);
    • by going down a similar 'idealist' path the QUT could be in some danger of becoming a 'university for the unreal world';
  • Western societies, with a classical Greek heritage, have tended to adopt a 'realist' viewpoint and to have social and institutional arrangements which suit that viewpoint (eg rationality in problem solving, political debate). East Asian societies with an ancient Chinese heritage tend to adopt a type of relativist / idealist approach to knowledge (ie they place little value on abstract concepts as a way of knowing about reality) and adopt complementary social and institutional arrangements (eg intuitive problem solving and autocratic exercise of power) that are quite different to those in Western societies (see East Asia). The rising status of the latter operating under the framework of their different epistemology raises very significant issues to which Australia is directly and increasingly exposed;
Public Comments in More Detail
Attachment A: Outline of Public Comments on 'Fear at QUT' (from ABC News Online)
  • the thesis was ultimately called 'Laughing with the Disabled: Creating Comedy that Confronts, Offends and Entertains'. The disabled people involved thought it was funny. The work should not be attacked by those who haven't communicated with Spectrum, and don't know the financial structure of project;
  • many of those at a lecture where clips were shown from the unfinished "Down Under Mystery Tour" (formally known as "laughing at the disabled") did not find it funny. Those in QUT who approved the project can't speak for entire disabled community. Some people commenting on this matter are afraid to state their name for fear of persecution. If your opinion differs from popular opinion, your livelihood is at stake;
  • incorrect assumptions are being made about what was in various different video clips;
  • why there reluctance to show again the video clip presented at confirmation? - as this caused the controversy
  • it is not clear what is going on. What did these academics do to warrant such a penalty? The thesis was contentious, and warranted public examination - and if this was done responsibly criticism was merely the duty of scholars. As QUT is publicly funded, this matter requires public examination;
  • The offences are not to do with differences of opinion on the value or ethics of the research. They were proven to have broken the university code of conduct. No difference of opinion justifies abuse of academic colleagues and students. They chose to misrepresent research in the early stages and mount a poorly informed critique of post-modernism, which is not their research expertise. Their article attacked the PhD student's right to conduct and test his research in a rigorous but supportive environment - without a media war;
  • what provisions of the QUT code of conduct are the academics accused of violating? Are those provisions reasonable? Merely following procedures doesn't ensure justice. There seems no evidence that abuse of academic colleagues occurred. The PhD is odious in its treatment of disabled people, and QUT should not support it. The two academics have performed a service to their profession and exposed the scandal. The VC has some explaining to do.
  • The PhD student was working with a disability organisation and had the consent of parents. The disciplinary action was not about academics voicing their objection to footage. It is about how they behaved towards others.
  • Creative Industries Faculty Executive Dean is arguing for "due process" and for privacy. However, it could also be argued that it this was meant to silence students (and staff). All articles written about this matter reflect difference of opinion based on ideological beliefs - and neither side will ever hear each other. The original message from Executive Dean called for confidentiality - following  the complaints made about breaches of QUT's code of conduct in relation to the publication of the article 'Philistines of relativism at the gates'
  • the QUT is a business, and what has been done is a poor business move;
  • statements being made about video clips are inaccurate. One showing was in a guest lecture which generated a good response. The disabled persons involved were not uncomfortable about it - and neither were their parents and advocates. This teaching approach won't be changed because of ill-informed criticism. The footage shown at confirmation seminar will not be re-shown, but other "Unlikely Travellers" (which shows the intent of the work. However no one seems interested in the context.
  • It is disappointing to see QUT's administration attempt to dictate "appropriate" behaviour.
  • the research film was placed in the public arena in May, so Privacy hardly counts. If the argument is that the humorous depiction of the disabled is free speech then the University and the research student can hardly claim the work must be protected. Let outsiders view the work and then let all involved who approved the continuation of the research project defend themselves as well as the research student and the whistle blowers. This is not a simple case of rules breach. The research appears inflammatory and some see it as derogatory to the disabled
  • QUT is a very supportive and very fair place to work. This 'climate of fear' accusation is fantasy. Why be scared of the VC who has the courage to stand in front of all of his staff in open Q and A sessions every year to discuss and help clarify any of the decisions and directions that the university is taking. The principles of natural justice do not support running media campaigns against the various parties.
  • If the person criticising those defending the academics has integrity and guts they would post it under their real name. Many of the QUT staff who deny that a "state of fear" exists at QUT are too afraid to use their real names. Other QUT academics have said privately that they are afraid to speak out.
  • QUT and probably other uni's have become little public service style holes with all the associated bureaucracy and managerial mumbo jumbo and control. As a young employee, it is wise to shut up, pump out research (which doesn't need to be good or correct) in line with the uni's flavour of the month. The VC scares me;
  • sometimes people do laugh at their own stereotypes. However QUT's reaction is unacceptable. Lots of research ruffles feathers, challenges accepted views and antagonise established interests. The traditional idea of academic freedom protects researchers. However, such institutionalised dissent carries with it the obligation to debate one's views, and to defend them This holds true for a PhD student and the VC. The QUT's action is amazing. Was the student harassed, bullied, physically intimidated? The punishment of the two academics will strike fear into the heart of any QUT academic wishing to disagree with any QUT research;
  • the VC has made the correct decision. Those disciplined were bullies;
  • too often a Code of Conduct or a Manual for Policy and Procedures is used to bludgeon troublesome employees not assist them. The wording is open to interpretation and can be manipulated to suit any situation. Often it is used to target the people it purports to protect. The cover of silence it invokes is a gag for employers who wish to stifle dissent. If QUT's policy mirrors the State Public Service Code of Conduct then I feel sorry for the two academics. Under this due process simply means "guilty once a committee/ consultant can be organised". Logic is abandoned and the procedure devolves into perceptions and feelings. The VC's heavy-handed tactics mirror the state / nationwide, approach to quashing freedom of speech. Perhaps the academics should not have taken their concerns to the media, but given the toxic climate prevalent at QUT, perhaps they had no other option.
  • procedure was undertaken and the decision made that the film should go ahead. Two academics who disagreed went public and broke the rules. So they are rightfully reprimanded. Saying that people can't laugh at the disabled denies them as a person and their situation;
  • when disabled people encourage others to laugh at them, they are in control of the situation. The ethics committee who approved this, should have been disciplined. QUT is currently proposing, as part of their plan to shut down Bachelor of Arts and Social Science degrees, to shut down the subjects offered in the Ethics and Human Rights professional major. There is a climate of fear at QUT. Students were arrested for handing out flyers without permission. The School of Humanities and Human services, which are not unknown to critique the establishment and particularly corporations, will be closed. These issues are linked - as both having (and teaching) ethics are inconvenient when it comes to pursuing corporate greed. QUT wants students, but they also REALLY want corporate sponsorship - and the School of Humanities has been unable to attract external funding. Had a similar situation arisen in any other faculty, the VC would not have had an issue with allowing the offending work to be disciplined internally. However, this has arisen from the Creative Industries faculty, which the VC is passionately supportive of, and has poured a huge amount of funding into. He cannot  be seen as criticising one of the offerings of his pet faculty, no matter how suspect, as he has stated publicly that QUT doesn't need the school of Humanities and Human Services because "Creative Industries is the new Arts". The VC is scary, and trying to stifle free speech and intellectual debate
  • there is an issue of informed consent, and some doubt that intellectually disabled people can give it;
  • this issue should not be seen to be linked with closure of Humanities and Social Services;
  • there is a linkage with closure of Humanities, as this is the main faculty in which Ethics are taught. The VC's financial reasons for closing the school of Humanities don't hold water, as other schools have far larger deficits. What is happening is that some bureaucrat on a power trip has decided to close a valuable faculty and allow / endorse  the ridicule of those on the margins of society while taking an axe to freedom of speech.
  • the academics were not "rightfully reprimanded". They have been financially and professionally ruined
  • what precisely is the unique contribution to knowledge in this PhD? How did it get a green light? Why did the academics go to the press, rather than advocacy groups for the communities (mis) represented? Why did the QUT punish one party, letting others (i.e. the supervisory committee and REB) off the hook?
  • QUT uses "PhD Confirmation" in a unique and misleading way. It isn't a confirmation of the award of the degree, but an internal "qualifying" procedure, admitting the student to candidature. In this process, the student is entitled to protection. The footage may have been objectionable, and the academics could have expressed this within the confirmation procedure - and given warning that they would attack it publicly if it was not changed. There are constraints on the ways those who attended confirmation hearings can use their knowledge. This was the issue in the QUT hearings and decisions. Academic freedom has no bearing.
  • the film clip was cruel and unfunny.  The bigger picture atmosphere at QUT is of concern - and this can't be communicated to the university without retribution. The university is a service that students pay for. They should have teachers who are experienced, professional, and qualified - and receive feedback and marks in a timely manner. When this is not provided, those who complain are labelled 'wingers'. There is no way to voice complaints and address abuses of power without academic retribution
  • at other universities, some have to subject themselves to incredible self-censorship to avoid retribution by the "powers that be". Universities, where social thought and inquiry and criticism and debate should be taking place, are in some cases attempting to effect a regime of compliant silence.
  • QUT has put out an official statement, which simply reinforces their actions. An external review is now required. The failure to manage this is a magnificent demonstration of gross incompetence at many levels.
  • The issue appears to be: what is the primary objective of university study and teaching? If it is to inspire debate, discussion and argument - then what exactly is the problem? However, if the tide has turned to the point where students are consumers, academics service providers, and the product is job readiness/employer appeal, then QUT's response makes sense. 
  • The film was trying to highlight disability/illness and how society views people who find themselves in  a terrible situation. If it is saying lets look past the disabilities and have a laugh, then it would be OK. They (Uni and Student) felt this "approach" was "ethical". The original title was a grab for attention, but this can unfortunately be necessary. The University believed that the lecturers were reducing the students rights and so suspended them. I suffer crippling anxiety, depression and addiction and believe that playing off two sides against each other and claiming unfairness is elitist. No one seems to actually care about those this affects, though both sides claim to;
  • a 'university for the real world'  means corrupt, unethical, paranoid, unreasonable.
  • I had expected that the student who created the film was the person who had been disciplined-  given the topic of the film and all anti-discrimination policies etc. that exist.
  • the facts for what these gentlemen have been disciplined for has been lost. The University has a "MOPP", all staff are expected to adhere and breaches must lead to some level of discipline to be imposed? Whether the punishment fits the crime is one matter and so is subject material of Laughing with the Disabled. One has to ponder what the supervisors were doing to think there would be some merit of this research.
  • The MOPP is vast, and changes regularly. Knowing details can't be expected employee's job?
  • The work is not finished, and two people went public, immediately prejudicing the student's work of this student because the decision did NOT meet their preference
  • The MOPP might be vast but so are most documents that relate to procedure and process.  Ignorance  is no defence and so surely it should be for MOPP. The "Jury / Disciplinary Panel" have made a decision which whilst severe might reflect the seriousness of the breach of MOPP. Did the academics seek advice about the MOPP
  • This involves complex and important issues including freedom of speech, the rights of the disabled, the relative imbalance of power of university staff and students. In taking one side and overreacting with such a draconian penalty QUT has failed to acknowledge that the issues are not just complex but competing. Where there may be no clear right or wrong QUT should have educated all of us by stimulating debate, not silencing it.
  • In Australia the media treats the government of the day, very softly compared to some elsewhere. An article in The Age "opinion" entitled "Shutting down a democracy" describes perfectly what this country has. Many Australians choose to act as if they are deaf, dumb and blind;
  • the academics would have expressed genuine concern. Right wingers in the QUT admin are on a crusade against free thought and a culture of compassion
  • the academics have been unreasonably punished by QUT. I have a disability and have been put into bad situations in the past by media. Now I can judge how I am going to be portrayed but when I was younger I was persuaded to do television and radio interviews without control and was too naive to understand what the implications of my appearance would be in terms of the way people with intellectual disability are depicted. I was overawed by the media. The young people and indigenous woman in the film were depicted in a way that appears degrading. I have withdrawn from research projects because I disagreed with the ideology and ethics.
  • all this comment comes about without anyone having seen this project. It will show that those with certain disabilities are human beings worth more than basket weaving behind locked doors
  • the film was on the level of school yard teasing. The professors were condemned for speaking out because their first duty was supposedly to QUT's MOPP;
  •  it seems to remain difficult to establish a line between 'political correctness' and honesty. Non-black undergrad students are frustrated over preferential marking of indigenous students - and are told that the important thing is to get indigenous students through university as models for others. While this has some validity, undergrads are just told to shut up. Sometimes systems struggle to deal with complex realities.
  • most concern should be for the student. The academics are in a much more powerful position, and should have used internal university procedures to address these issues;
  • the penalty given is unconscionable. Unicrats are making an example to deter others. Many universities prohibit staff from public criticism of their institution. They are run under a public service managerialist ideology, and unicrats are hostile to the university tradition of free inquiry and robust debate;
  • colleagues at other universities have suffered from similar action for saying something management does not want to hear.
  • Academics believe that they can get away with anything. The people who suffer the most are HECS paying students. Academics at a previous uni were not held accountable for their poor teaching, and outdated views