A protest will be held outside the University of Queensland’s (UQ) Senate meeting from 4PM this Thursday (12 September 2019) calling on the UQ Senate to reject the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the University and the controversial Ramsay Centre for “Western Civilisation”.
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) — the union for all university staff—has led the campaign against the centre’s presence at UQ.
“Management at UQ are trying to push through a degree that threatens the intellectual autonomy of staff, ignoring repeated rejections and expressions of concern by academic and professional staff, students and the wider community,” said NTEU Division Secretary Michael McNally.
“The only option left is for the members of the UQ Senate to reject the MoU and give management at UQ a very clear message that Ramsay is not welcome,” said Mr McNally.
President of the UQ Branch of the NTEU Associate Professor Andrew Bonnell said the Ramsay Centre did not stand up to scrutiny.
“Members reject the political project of the Ramsay Centre for what it is; trying to undermine critical analyses of ‘the West’ in favour of an anti-intellectual celebration of an uncontested and outdated concept of ‘Western Civilisation’?—something which is impossible to defend in a modern university, ” said Associate Professor Bonnell.
Board Member of the Ramsay Centre and former LNP Prime Minister Tony Abbott has declared that the course would not teach the history of “Western Civilisation”, but would be “in favour of it”.
NTEU members have also expressed concerns that a course in “Western Civilisation” will be perceived as opening a door for racism at UQ, given the way in which such terms are being adopted by “alt-right” and far-right.
“We now have reports that the University is prepared to use Ramsay Centre staff - expressly hired (with input from the board of the Ramsay Centre) to teach a course ‘in favour’ of Western Civilisation—to teach in other, more academically robust courses as well,” said Professor Bonnell.
“Such a situation is unacceptable and could bring the quality of teaching offered at the University more generally into disrepute,” added Associate Professor Bonnell.
The protest will begin at the Grassy Knoll and will march to the UQ Chancellery from 4PM Thursday 12 September 2019.