Union leaders at the University of Sydney have condemned negotiations with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation as a breach of process.
The campus branch of the National Tertiary Education Union claims that Vice Chancellor Michael Spence wants the university Senate to support any agreement and only then initiate the academic approval process.
“This proposal – like any other relating to curriculum in an area already taught at the University of Sydney – must be decided first by the regular faculty processes and by the Academic Board. Senate approval should only be sought once staff have been fully consulted,” National Tertiary Education Union branch president Kurt Iveson states in an open letter to Dr Spence.
“How could an undergraduate committee, the faculty of arts and social sciences board, or the Academic Board have full oversight if arrangements on such matters have already been agreed by Senate?” Dr Iveson asks.
And he asserts the academic authority of the 150 staff who have condemned any role for Ramsay at the university, as “western exceptionalism,” (CMM June 12).
“This is a core group of world’s best-practice academics who already teach a wide range of subjects that cover the concept of ‘western civilisation’. There must be meaningful consultation with them as regard the standards that operate in any discussions with private funding bodies that pertain to curriculum, including the Ramsay Centre.”
Dr Spence is now in a similar position to ANU VC Brian Schmidt a month back when he faced similar opposition from the union and disquiet on campus over his negotiations with Ramsay (https://campusmorningmail.com.au/anu-union-intervenes-in-the-ramsay-western-civ-centre-proposal CMM May 23). Professor Schmidt went on to withdraw from negotiations with Ramsay, on the grounds of academic autonomy; “it is clear that the autonomy with which this university needs to approve and endorse a new program of study is not compatible with a sponsored program of the type sought,” he said (CMM June 4).