University of Auckland’s free speech policy more likely to stifle conversation: Free Speech Union submits feedback



26 June 2024

University of Auckland’s free speech policy more likely to stifle conversation: Free Speech Union submits feedback

University of Auckland’s drafted Freedom of Expression and Academic Freedom Policy needs fundamental changes if it’s going to achieve the desired goals, says Paul Moon, Co-Chairperson of the Inter-University Council on Academic Freedom (IUCAF), a sub-committee of the Free Speech Union.

“Rather than strive to uphold free speech as the title suggests, the policy is more likely to silence unpopular or dissenting views. Not only is this policy ambiguous, but some clauses contradict other policies.

“There is too much room for subjective judgment that will leave substantive decisions to a select group within the University, rather than individual academics. We have written a submission to the university highlighting six areas that need revision if it’s going to foster a culture of free speech rather than stifle it.

“These areas are:

  1. The need to reflect sections 267(2) and (4) of the Education and Training Act 2020 that require universities to maintain academic freedom.
  2. The need to address that there are varying perspectives on the Treaty of Waitangi, so the University should not use this as a basis to build its free speech policy.
  3. Clarification needs to be given on how the University’s Code of Conduct interacts with the policy to ensure neither limit freedom of expression as set out in the Bill of Rights.
  4. Academic freedom should continue to be tested by peer review and feedback, not by what a university committee deems ‘scholarly’ or not.
  5. The policy should require institutional neutrality so that academics within the university can hold particular views, rather than the university as an institution.
  6. The policy also needs to specify on what grounds an event or venue booking can be refused or cancelled by the University, ensuring that freedom of speech is not unjustly limited.

“We applaud the University of Auckland for working to uphold academic freedom and free speech at the University. However, far more work needs to be done if their policy will fulfill that.”


Note to editor: See our submission here. Read our original media release on the issue here.

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  • Nadia Braddon-Parsons
    published this page in Media releases 2024-06-27 15:25:25 +1200

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