What they really think: ACU chancellor and union leader exchange opinions

John Fahey calls union leader Leah Kaufmann’s letter “discourteous”. Dr Kaufmann responds his is a “highly-gendered” criticism.   

When George Pell was convicted of child abuse Australian Catholic University said it wouldn’t comment until all legal processes are complete. Then VC Greg Craven wrote an op ed about the Pell case. This upset the university branch of the National Tertiary Education Union, which wrote to Chancellor John Fahey. Here’s how he started his response.

“In the circumstances, it is not unreasonable to draw the conclusion that the letter was intended primarily to attract media attention. I regard your actions as discourteous and probably hypocritical … “

Mr Fahey proceeds to argue that Professor Craven wrote his piece “as an individual,” “in the exercise of his own academic freedom, a concept which your union supports.”

NTEU uni president Leah Kaufmann isn’t having any of it, responding to the chancellor, that Craven wrote as VC of ACU, and that he should make it clear his position is not that of the university.

Dr Kaufmann isn’t thrilled with the chancellor’s tone either. “I wish to express a personal displeasure with having my actions labelled as ‘discourteous’. Specifically, it seems to me that this is a highly-gendered criticism, often levelled at women who are seen to be speaking out of turn.”


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