28 September 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Concerns over Mātauranga Engagement Programme prohibiting the expression of dissenting views
The Free Speech Union is concerned that the University of Auckland is failing to uphold academic freedom values in its upcoming Mātauranga Engagement Programme, says Jonathan Ayling, the Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.
“While the programme claims it’s an opportunity for discussion and testing assumptions, Jade Le Grice, the Associate Dean Māori states that “this is not a space for debating or invalidating the position of mātauranga in Science”. These are contradictory statements, and we see it as a breach of academic freedom.
“We fear the programme will simply be a monologue, rather than a dialogue, presenting orthodoxies which academics are expected to uphold unquestioningly. How is it possible for this event to foster learning and dialogue if it is only a presentation on one view or perspective?
“This does not align with the free speech values previously expressed by Dawn Freshwater, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland, nor her promise in 2021 to host a symposium to discuss this topic. We’ve written to Freshwater asking her how it is acceptable to host an event that aims to discuss ideas without debate and dissent.
“Where can we have robust debates and hold differing views to our peers if not at a university? A university is not a place where only views within a narrow band of acceptability should be aired. Debates and a range of perspectives should be encouraged.”
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