Universities, you're on notice.

It's graduation week for several universities around the country, and many of the graduates will already have a few months of work under their belts.

It's worth considering the ripple effect our academics have as they send graduates out into the world to many workplaces to apply what they've learnt.

Here at the Free Speech Union, we've documented a consistent decline in academic freedom over the past couple of years. I know this is an issue you care about, but many other Kiwis are just starting to realise what's at stake, thanks to the coverage on Victoria University postponing the panel discussion on free speech

Academics often tell us they self-censor for fear of saying something out of line. After all, it's pretty hard to speak up if it'll put your income on the line. 

But consider the effect of academics self-censoring. It doesn't just stop with them. What does this do for our students, and therefore the workforce, and our nation at large? 

Introducing our membership specifically for academics

Last week we said we were stepping up and taking the fight to the university. We're tired of academics not being able to freely voice their opinions and perspectives.

That's why we've launched our first of eight new, industry-specific memberships. It's especially for academics and university staff. 

With a council chaired by Prof. Paul Moon and Prof. Elizabeth Rata, the new membership will be a community of academics committed to academic freedom being defended, upheld and celebrated.

We have a proven track record of defending those silenced simply for voicing their opinions. We want to ensure academics know they can rely on us, and that they don't need to live in fear. We'll go into bat for them

Learn more about our new membership for academics and university staff

Keep an eye out over the next couple of months, as we launch a total of eight professional-memberships. We haven't said this publicly yet, but as a supporter, we wanted to let you know. We're taking the fight to those who are silencing Kiwis in their workplaces: teachers, lawyers, doctors, public servants- they all should be free to speak. 

The stakes are high if we don't get this right

Last week we announced that we are the proud named sponsors of the New Zealand Schools Debating Council. What better way to champion free speech than to get the next generation exercising it?

But this week, we heard that half of the executive team resigned in protest. Why? Because the other half has threatened to cut ties with us.

If their reason is anything like that of the six debating teams from the University of Auckland who pulled out of the AUT Mooting Society's moot we sponsored, it'll be because they need to be seen as 'politically neutral'.

And apparently, standing for everyone's right to have their say, regardless of the subject matter, isn't politically neutral anymore. 

In other news, the AUT Mooting Society's moot went ahead. We had a great evening on Monday as the finalists battled it out at Meredith Connell in their mock court. 

Join us next week on our tour with Jonathan Rauch

Our tour with Jonathan Rauch really couldn't come at a better time. This weekend, Rauch arrives to New Zealand all the way from Washington DC. Rauch is an authority on the crucial importance of academic freedom. He’ll unpack why free speech matters so much to the university, and what we need to do to save it.

We have a jam-packed schedule with around 30 appointments over five days, including two public events, conversations at universities especially for academics, meetings with vice-chancellors, and media interviews. 

Have you RSVP'd yet to our public event in Auckland or Christchurch yet? If you can't make it along to an event, keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter for all the updates and media coverage. 

If you're an academic, get in touch with [email protected] to find out more about our academic conversations. 


If universities are to go back to being the critic and conscience of society, we can't sit back and let academic freedom plummet further. We're doing something about it. You can chip in here

Nadia Braddon-Parsons
Communications & Marketing Manager
Free Speech Union

PS. Our new membership especially for academics is here. Let's see academic freedom thrive. Not an academic? You can can still join us here, or contribute to the cause. Speaking of academic freedom, are you coming along to one of our public events with Jonathan Rauch next week?


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  • Nadia Braddon-Parsons
    published this page in Blog 2024-05-14 10:07:31 +1200

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