The University of Sydney’s jellyback Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence has given many excuses for why he may not accept the money from the Ramsay Centre. He has explained that he ‘rejects the narrative’ of the institution, which claims current universities are dominated by far left thinking and lack diversity of thought. There is no doubt that he has been influenced by an open letter from Sydney university staff containing 140 signatures and that the final decision will fall to the Senate.
We watched as he nodded his head and did not express any disagreement with the extreme posturing and slander of a student from the socialist alternative in the Q&A audience on Monday night. This same student has participated in multiple intimidating protests on campus targeting Christian and conservative groups and was recently filmed yelling into the face of black medical student that she was ‘racist, sexist and anti-gay’, since she was part of the life choice group on campus.
But Spence became very defensive when a mild-mannered young man stated in his question the truth that all students are aware of ‘I have found a lot more lectures turn that way (the left) than towards right-wing beliefs.’
However, what is most concerning is that at no point does it appear that Spence, or the University Senate, have consulted, or are planning on consulting with average students about how they feel about the prospect of learning more about western civilisation.
Most students within the arts and humanities will know that despite the best efforts of the most radical professors, more traditional and direct subjects are generally the classes that fill up fastest. Roman history, the study of Ancient Greece and subjects that cover the First and Second World Wars are always popular with students.
Though they may find themselves disappointed as even some of these islands of traditional history have been tainted by the toxicity of cultural Marxism and post-modernist thought.
It is not surprising that these and other foundational humanities subjects are still sought out by students. We live in a western nation and it is natural for those students who have grown up here to want to know how this civilisation came to be. Even international students must find some interest in learning about the political and cultural development of the country they have come to.
Unfortunately, the natural inclinations of the silent majority of students, that pay the University of Sydney for their education, are of little interest to those who pushing the university to say no to the opportunity being offered by the Ramsay centre.
Having a new course that focused on western civilisation and enlightenment values, a program similar to the great books courses from the liberal-arts colleges in the United States, would not simply provide another choice to incoming students. It would be a threat to the institutional indoctrination that post-modernist academics and bureaucrats have been cultivating on campus since the mid-nineteen-sixties. In the words of the academic staff in their letter to Spence accepting the centre’s offer would be “a violation of our crucial role in promoting a society of diversity, inclusiveness, and mutual respect”.
This either-or game that the academic staff are playing is symptomatic of post-modernist thought, which only deals with the world in terms of power. Men’s issues cannot be spoken about because they directly threaten the narrative of women’s issues. Atrocities committed by certain minorities cannot be attributed to that group while all the past sins of western culture can be weaponised to silence students who suffer from ‘white privilege’. And the study of great civilisations of the past and enlightenment values can definitely not be taught within a university, as that would be a direct threat to ‘delicate’ minorities and to the postmodernist idea that there is ‘no such thing as truth’.
It’s a zero-sum game in the minds of the radical left, if you have something that must be because others have less. If you think differently you must be silenced so their ideas can dominate. Intellectual diversity is the only diversity they not only do not care about but are legitimately frightened of.
It is mind-boggling that Spence can say that he does not agree with the narrative that universities are dominated by the dogmatic left when the mere mention of just a touch of diversity of thought has resulted in such outrage and hostility from the staff at his institution. The question that must be asked is ‘If you truly believe that universities are not dominated by the left and aim to teach students critical thinking skills instead of brainwashing them, then why would your staff be so hostile to an institution willing to supply a different view of the world accompanied by the funds to provide it?’
But I do not expect an answer from Dr Spence. His previous actions have shown that he has little time for the concerns of students that are not of the radical left persuasion. Last year I wrote the Chancellor multiple emails requesting a meeting to discuss the new ‘unlearn’ program. I was informed that his diary was full for the entire semester and he would be unable to spare any time to speak with me regarding my concerns.
Students need to have more say in the way universities are run and the subjects that are provided. Fee deregulation seems like the only feasible way of doing this. As universities that continue to charge high fees while not providing a service that the students actually want, will either fail or have to adapt to a new system that thrives on market forces driven by student choice.
For now, it seems better that the university declines the money from the Ramsay Centre. As those in power and the academic staff who complained have proven they are unworthy of the funds that are meant to extend and diversify the humanities department at the University of Sydney. The Ramsay Centre’s goal, although noble, does not look like it will be achievable within the walls of once great, but now crumbling higher education institutions that have become infected and overgrown with left-wing group think and dogmatic academics that care more about protecting their narrative then student choice. But it is most unfortunate that it is not them but the students that will suffer.