Terror and tertiary education
On November 19 the President of the Australian Council of Civil Liberties, Terry O’Gorman delivered the National Tertiary Education Union’s 2015 Lecture.
Just days after terror attacks unfolded in Paris, Mr O’Gorman addressed an audience of academics and university representatives on the advancement and preservation of civil liberties in the age of terror. He placed particular emphasis on the risk that excessive measures and in particular counter terrorism laws can pose to our basic rights and liberties.
‘We also do have leading academics who are already warning about excessive counter terrorism measures, the risk of home grown radicalisation and the need to reintegrate our Muslim youth. Tertiary education in Australia must continue to be a key stakeholder in the conversation going forward particularly about home grown terrorism and radicalisation especially to widen and balance the often simplistic public debate in this area.
‘There is no doubt universities are capable of reversing the stigma and marginalisation I have spoken about. I am also confident Australian universities are willing to. It is time that we realise we are now in the 15th year of this so called war on terror. There is also inevitably at least a decade or more to go before it runs its course. We cannot be having the one-sided discussions we had about Vietnam 10 years from now in relation to terrorism issues. It is true that hindsight is often of great aid and benefit in these situations but we simply cannot rely on it.’
Australia is in need of a new model for universities
Also at the NTEU conference Raywyn Connell argued that Australia is in need of a new model for universities.
‘That isn’t the impression you get from the delighted students, contented staff and shining buildings pictured on every university website. But that’s a fantasy. University managers now hire a considerable number of advertising staff to create the pretty picture. Behind the façade are growing signs of trouble. A vital one is the gap between management and staff.’
Why are universities slow to divest from fossil fuels?
Carol Richards and Robyn Mayes considered the pressures on universities to divest from fossil fuels, and the reasons why they are slow to do so:
‘Australian universities have been quick to promote their commitment to sustainability, but slow to divest their fossil fuel investments and take a strong stance on climate change. This places them behind faith organisations, not for profits, local councils, banks, superannuation funds and a host of others moving capital away from fossil fuels.
Why is this? Strong links to the mining sector have put universities in a difficult position.