An educated mind? UQ accepts Ramsay Centre

Serious strike action and a student revolt is the only way to stop it‘ – UQ staff member.

On Monday night a University of Queensland Senate meeting authorised Chancellor Peter Varghese and VC Peter Hoj to negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ramsay Centre. Meanwhile the University has accepted nearly $40M from Dow Chemicals. It is spending $300M to demolish the UQ Union complex, destroying visual symbols that show the history of UQ forum where fundamental questions of justice and democratic rights were debated. Aboriginal history is forgotten, the colonisers have destroyed indigenous agriculture and aquaculture. This is documented in Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu.

In contrast UQ management wants to build the Ramsay Centre, a monument to colonisation and Western racism. These points were raised by Di Zetlin at the forum on Monday saying that UQ has become a McDonald’s University, focussed on the throughput of getting the burger through to the end. An exaggeration? Nearly half the staff at UQ are casual. They put in many unpaid hours.

UQ vice chancellor Peter Høj sent an email to staff on Tuesday, to inform them of the UQ Senate’s endorsement of continuing discussions with the Ramsay Centre with a view to a formal MOU , “providing it is consistent with the university’s policies of autonomy over curriculum, academic appointments, academic freedom and governance arrangements“.

Last week National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) UQ Branch passed the following motions against Ramsay:

That this meeting of the UQ Branch of the NTEU:

Reaffirms that academic freedom, university autonomy, and transparency must be non-negotiable preconditions of any relationships with external partners;

Rejects the proposal that a Ramsay Centre representative might sit on selection committees for UQ staff as a violation of university independence and autonomy;

Calls for a published code of practice to govern all relationships between UQ and external partners. Such a code must guarantee the principles outlined above

That this meeting of the UQ Branch of the NTEU:

Acknowledges the need for greater public investment in UQ’s teaching programmes, with particular reference to the humanities, after over two decades of funding cuts;

Notes the published statements of proponents of the Ramsay Centre to the effect that the Ramsay Centre is an explicitly political-ideological enterprise intended to promote a particular uncontested view of “Western Civilisation”;

Reaffirms the need for UQ to uphold its commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion, including commitments to action over reconciliation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations people, gender equity, and equal respect for  persons of non-English-speaking backgrounds, and rejects the proposition that the stated objectives of advocates of the Ramsay Centre can be reconciled with these commitments;

Rejects the framing of the Ramsay Centre’s teaching programme as an explicitly elitist venture, which will disproportionately confer benefits on a small and privileged group of students;

Calls on UQ management to withdraw the current Expression of Interest in establishing a partnership with the Ramsay Centre.

A picket was organised by the NTEU outside the Senate Meeting on Monday to protest the Ramsay Centre. Students and staff had spoken against it at a lunchtime forum earlier in the day.

The University of Queensland accepts such controversial philanthropic funding from Ramsay and Dow Chemicals who made naplam for use against the Vietnamese people. Ramsay is a think tank headed by former Liberal PMs Howard and Abbott set up to introduce new Western civilisation majors, despite an emphatic rejection of the idea by union branches and universities of Sydney and ANU. The University of Wollongong has accepted the Ramsay proposals.

At a meeting on 6 February, Queensland members of the National Tertiary Education Union demanded that the university withdraw its expression of interest in establishing a partnership with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. The NTEU said a “packed” lecture theatre had overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution, with just one person voting against it.” – John Ross

Former PM Howard on board of Ramsay Centre

At the forum on Monday student councillor Priya De spoke out against Ramsay’s ‘buying space’ in the humanities for racist propaganda.

Ian Curr
27 Feb 2019

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