A timely intervention

An email from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Glyn Davis, was sent to all students on Thursday afternoon. It's a damning indictment on those whose words and actions made it necessary to send it:

Subject: Say 'no' to vilification
From: "Vice-Chancellor"
Date: Thu, August 10, 2006 4:18 pm
To: ugrad-users@studentlists.unimelb.edu.au

Universities offer a forum for vigorous debate, including discussion of unpopular opinions.

In Australia, as in the rest of the world, we are experiencing the effects of deeply troubled times in the Middle East.

At this testing moment, students and staff of the University of Melbourne must feel secure in advancing or defending their views of the world.

But equally we must respect long-established practices about the conduct of scholarly debate, however impassioned. Members of the University community have a responsibility to appreciate that people on all sides have sincerely and deeply held views.

They are entitled to express those views without suffering abuse or intimidation. Present circumstances in the Middle East are no excuse for anti-Semitism or racist behaviour. Such vilification has no place on our campus.

Glyn Davis
Vice-Chancellor

10 August 2006


Well said.

Comments

John Lee said…
and the context was...?
Anonymous said…
About time someone stood up to the ideals of fair debate and realized that antisemitism has no place on campus (or anywhere).

Aunty
Anonymous said…
The VC of Swinburne also display a similar. I'll publish it soon
Anonymous said…
Fri, Aug 11, 2006 -- Swinburne_Communications: Middle East Conflict: Official Notice

11 August, 2006

Dear Members of the University Community,

We are all aware that students and staff may be affected by the current conflict in the Middle East, either personally or in a practical sense.

While we would all acknowledge the right of individuals to their personal views, it is important in times such as these that we exercise restraint and respect the views and feelings of all members of the Swinburne community.

It is my responsibility to remind everyone that racist behaviour or religious vilification is both unacceptable and an offence under the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 (Vic) and will not be tolerated by the University.

Also, under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) it is unlawful to vilify someone on the basis of their racial or religious background.

Religious vilification includes behaviour that incites:

-hatred against
-serious contempt for
-severe ridicule of, someone’s religious beliefs or activities.

Consequently, I urge all students and staff to exercise dignity and respect to each other in this difficult period and to take a balanced view when commenting on the conflict and wherever possible to discourage racist behaviour of any type.

Students who are personally affected by the conflict may wish to seek assistance and advice from the various services available on campus, including the University’s counselling service which can be contacted on 9214-8025. International students may also contact Swinburne International on 9214-8884.

Similarly, staff who feel personally affected and wish to seek advice or assistance may avail themselves of the University’s Employee Assistance Programme on 1300 360 364.

Staff or students may also wish to avail themselves of the Chaplaincy Service which can be contacted on 9214-8489 or 0425757038.

I know that you will join me in ensuring that Swinburne continues to be a harmonious and enjoyable place to work and study.


Professor Ian Young
Vice-Chancellor and President.
Daniel said…
Was there any particular incident that necessitated the letter? I would not be at all surprised. A lot in the 'activist' community have been acting like total shits lately (moreso than in the past) to the extent that I feel like changing the name of the 'Stop The War Coalition' to the 'Take Sides In The War Coalition'.

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