Dear Editors, I was recently browsing the internet and found the following, from a graduation address given at Murdoch University in 2005: “I am concerned about the current culture, the culture of silence or of speaking up only to tell people what they want to hear. Of shooting the messenger or even worse, of considering those who disagree as the enemy. … In many of our iconic organizations there is a suggestion that dialogue is not welcome, that one accepts the views of a senior manager and obeys.”
The outgoing Vice-Chancellor’s letter in the February 2014 Nucleus chiding outgoing Editor Sarita Perston for the content of her article“LIH: Look, I’m Here!” was a depressing manifestation of this culture of silence. It is not a question of anyone being ‘unable or unwilling to engage with the merits of the case for and against the restructure of the LIH dispatch office’: the focus of Ms Perston’s criticisms was the digression made by Professor Blass into assessment methods in the ‘consultation document’, a digression which betrayed a terrifying cluelessness about the purpose of a university and the environment in which UNE operates.
The document Prof Blass circulated was a ridiculous document worthy of spirited mockery. Ms Perston’s criticism of it was about as harsh as a lashing with a wet noodle. Most of the juicier bits were direct quotes from submissions made by irate academics. The fact that an authority figure such as Professor Barber would chose to upbraid Ms Perston for such mild criticism is distressing.
I am hopeful of a more open atmosphere of dialogue in the short-term future, considering the graduation address I quoted above was given by Professor Anabelle Duncan, our interim Vice-Chancellor.
— Dr Chris Fellows Senior Lecturer in Chemistry School of Science and Technology, The University of New England