The Rindos Case: The Early Days

  1. Dr Rindos' Early Experiences at UWA
  2. Dr Rindos' Recruitment and Hiring
  3. Immigration and his arrival
  4. Rindos becomes Head of Department
  5. The Discovery of Problems
  6. Attempts at an internal solution
  7. The Beginning of Serious Problems
  8. Rindos Reports to his Supervisors
  9. Rindos' First Formal Report
  10. The case of the disappearing documents
  11. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Parfitt's Findings
  12. Rindos Reports to the Equity Office
  13. The transfer to Geography
  14. The University Recognizes Victimization
  15. The Move to Geography is Successful
  16. The Performance Review of 1991
  17. The Memo Blitz
  18. The Rindos Files [under development]
  19. Memorial Messages and Files

Dr Rindos' Early Experiences at UWA

Considering the fact that by their own evaluation, UWA considered itself "lucky to get him," and the lengths the it went to in getting him to arrive as quickly as possible, it might seem odd that just four years after his arrival in Perth, Australia, Dr Rindos was to became the very first person in the history of the University of Western Australia to be denied tenure and fired. The first person ever.

In mid-1993, in a series of remarkable statements, assertions were to be made by the University alleging problems with his academic performance, and, most astonishing of all, allegations of moral terpitude and professional malfeasance was openly hinted by high university administrators.

The beginnings of this story, going from his arrival in 1989 through his move to another department in 1991, is told on these Web pages. It continues on other pages, linked as necessary.

All in all, this is a bizarre -- and oftentimes tragic -- story about how a scholar, courted to come to a new country, was to trust in the fair administration of his university, and as a result was to end up unemployed, fighting for his name and reputation.

Dr Rindos' Recruitment and Hiring

In 1988, while a visiting scholar at the Australian National University, Dr David Rindos was vigorously recruited by Professor Sandra Bowdler, the then Head of a very small and new Archaeology department, to a position at the University of Western Australia, located in Perth, on the west coast of Australia.

Dr Rindos, planning on returning to his post in the United States, was quite uncertain about taking up the offer. Professor Bowdler brought him to Perth for several weeks, put him up in her house, played tour-guide, and used the time to sell the research possibilities presented in her developing program. During this visit, he delivered a number of seminars and began to grow increasingly excited by the untapped research potentials existing in the huge (1/3 the size of the US), archaeologically unknown state of Western Australia.

While considering the offer of the position, considerable doubts were brought on by the odd rumors he had had heard about the Department and about Professor Bowdler herself. However, he put them aside, accepting the arguments of Professor Bowdler and other members of the department that sexism and homophobia were underlying factors. It was clear that Professor Bowdler was both colorful and highly individual, and therefore that rumors could easily spread about her.

The internal letter of support written by Professor Bowdler praised Dr Rindos' abilities and accomplishments in the strongest of terms:

"He is very committed to and enthusiastic about teaching. His referees confirm this . . . All referees speak highly of his work : terms like "brilliant", "stimulating: even "genius" are mentioned, and all stress his energy, dedication, enthusiasm and productivity. He is the only applicant with an international reputation."
And she concluded her review noting
"In short, while Dr Rindos might be a bit of an unorthodox appointment, the Selection Committee thinks we are very lucky to be able to get him."

Immigration and his arrival

Dr Rindos was offered the position by UWA at the end of 1988, an outcome which surprised nobody in the small Australian community of archaeologists. However, like most people, he felt some apprehension about removing himself far from friends and family, and moving quite literally to the other end of the world.

Dr Rindos was aware that the position had a three year probationary period, but when he expressed concern about this, he was told, truthfully, that tenure had never been denied at UWA (as was recently pointed out by the Vice-Chancellor of UWA herself).

It is traditional in Australia to do an exhaustive review at the time of hiring, especially into higher positions such as "Senior Lecturer" (equivalent to the rank of Associate Professor in North America), a point reinforced by Professor Bowdler in a letter where she noted that hiring at the Senior Lecturer level is equivalent to internal promotion to that level (a process that would, in itself, bring with it a tenured status).

The contract as described to him, like the one he eventually signed, described the position as "Permanent" and "Established" -- that is, with ongoing funding attached to it. This condition in his contract was later simply ignored by the University when another department at UWA sought to take him on -- see the relevant section of the UWA Answers to Questions posed in the West Australian Parliament.

Given the reassurances about the exhaustive review preceeding his move, and noting that the most usual problem with new positions -- money -- seemed to be solved by the nature of his contract, Dr Rindos was willing to consider the move to a new country. He accepted Professor Bowdler's offer in January 1989, fully excited about the untapped research potential existing in Western Australia, and the opportunity he had been given to contribute his own skills to a brand-new department which had many areas desperately in need of development.

The University of Western Australia sponsored Dr Rindos during his immigration proceedings to Australia. In fact, it went to quite extraordinary lengths in attempting to facilitate this process, going so far as to lodge formal requests that the Australian Government provide him with a special visa permitting early entry on the grounds of the central role he would be playing in the developing program in Archaeology at UWA.

"It is essential that he reach Perth by the start of first semester as Dr Rindos will undertake an integral part of our teaching programme. He is a new senior appointment at a small but growing department.

Rindos becomes Head of Department

Not surprisingly, given his accomplishments and what had been written about him by Professor Bowdler, Dr Rindos was made the acting head of the archaeology department, shortly after he arrived. As Professor Bowdler had written:
"I am confident he will bring the same enthusiasm and dedication to bear on [the headship] as he does to everything else."
Well aware that management in such a small (3 full-time faculty) department must be done on the basis of consensus, he wrote to Professor Bowdler -- then overseas on leave -- regularly, updating her on all events in the department, providing annotated copies of the agendae of Departmental Meetings, and seeking her advice on all major decisions.

Her replies were frank and friendly, and she did not hold back at all from providing comments on other staff, and giving direct advice on how to handle matters in the Department.

The Discovery of Problems

As the months of 1990 went by, and likely as a result of his open management style, Dr Rindos began to receive an increasing number of confidential complaints, largely although not exclusively from students, regarding conditions in the department.

Totally unexpected evidence was given him regarding unprofessional activities which apparently had been long ongoing within the department. Heads of other departments, and academic administrators made troubling comments about the way in which his department had been governed in the past. Students and staff began to complain to him in confidence about what were clearly long-standing problems, and the nature of the complaints were worrying in the extreme. Testimony of a quite unbelievable nature was presented, and slowly data began to accumulate that these activities had led to serious, documentable harm to students and to his discipline as a whole.

As a result, he began to grow increasingly distraught by claims of unprofessional activities and a culture of victimization and academic interference within his department.

Finally, in mid-1991, shortly before Professor Bowdler's return to Perth, Dr Rindos witnessed an incident that upset him gravely -- confirming as it seemed to do, all of the worst stories he had heard. As he was to write to Professor Oxnard in December of 1990 (in a document which has disappeared from UWA files) regarding a student who had been victimized several months earlier:

[A student] came to me at the end of last year [1989] asking if he could take classes in the Department. I was a bit confused and said isn't that a matter of the rules governing enrolment? Of course, he could [enroll] if he is permitted to do so by the uni rules . . . While he was taking classes in the Department, and after a previous problem involving what appeared to be unfair grading of him, Dr Lilley had gone in and shouted at [him] about wasting his time in the Lab. [Dr Lilley] had a slightly ambiguous role in this class and was NOT course controller. Apparently [the student] came into Ian's office and verbally assaulted him, allegedly threatening physical violence. I only heard Ian saying "don't threaten me again." I reported the incident, involving the Science Office at each stage. Ian was very upset . . .and is apparently still worried that he will have to "wear it." (Thank god the Uni never asked me directly if staff bore any guilt in this!)

Attempts at an internal solution

In mid-1990, after her return from overseas, Dr Rindos attempted on several occasions to approach Professor Bowdler to discuss some of the problems which were confusing him regarding the management of the department. Professor Bowdler, however, was totally uninterested in pursuing the topic, dismissing any and all the claims as part of a larger campaign she held was being waged against her, both within the University and from outside of it.

As Dr Rindos wrote in his 1991 submission to the Archeology Review, negative comments coming from other members of the University community about the Department led him to speak to Professor Bowdler in mid-1990:

Negative comments were so pervasive that I finally decided I must speak with Prof Bowdler. . . . I was perhaps the personification of naivete, but I honestly believed that I could have a productive discussion on the topic. I also believed that I could discuss the matter in a relatively unthreatening manner. . . . I stressed that I felt it likely the many of the problems might have arisen from sexism, homophobia and the like, but that perhaps we might wish to take a slightly different tack in our University relationships. Prof Bowdler's response was less than helpful, and in fact, it was frightening to witness. She began, literally, to scream at me. She kept repeating that people always are telling those kinds of lies about her. Then she got angry at me for even bringing the topic up, saying that she was on leave and didn't want to be bothered with such matters. When I pointed out that I had waited for several months before mentioning these problems to her, she then got angry again demanding to know why I hadn't informed her earlier about the people who were "slandering" her. . . . I found myself in a classic no-win situation and could not help but feel that I was being held personally responsible [for the existence of these comments].
Professor Bowdler still maintains this position, and holds that she has been victimized: this despite the fact that she remains employed at UWA.

The Beginning of Serious Problems

The problems between Professor Bowdler and Dr Rindos began to come to a head in late 1990 when Dr Rindos made what he thought was a routine funding decision. He described this event to the 1991 Archaeology Review in the following manner:
At this point in time and acting as Head of Department I was faced with the fact that at the end of the year all funds remaining in certain accounts could not be carried over into next year's budget, but instead would have to be turned over to the (newly created) Division. I thought that using some of these funds to supplement the income of postgraduate students would not be amiss and that it also might give them some experience in class development. I therefore brought up this possibility at a Departmental Meeting (17 October, Agenda). . . Following up on our earlier plans, I hired the tutors for these tasks. After this occurred I received a phone call from Prof Bowdler who proceeded to scream at me for some 30 minutes. . . . . I was quite upset and frankly fed up with being treated in this manner and I decided that I must speak with Prof Bowdler the next day about this matter. I prepared notes of the points I wished to raise with her. . . Prof Bowdler then produced the formal memo dated 30 November. . . Later that day at the Department Meeting I was subjected to what can only be called a harangue by Prof Bowdler. . . . Not only was I accused of not being a "real archaeologist," but I was also placed into the embarassing position of having to listen to accusations of how I was, at the same time, both "unable to teach" and "brainwashing students." As I recall the meeting, much ado was made about my "aberrant" point of view and Professor Bowdler (who, recall, was officially on leave) appointed Dr Lilley as course coordinator with the responsiblity to "police" my outline and lectures to ensure that they confirmed to some (unstated) standards of the "normative."
Given the conditions we now know existed in archaeology, it is understandable that Dr Rindos was unable to make any progress in his attempts to deal with these issues within the department. And, again in keeping with the conditions as described by members of the Archaeology Review Committee, it is clear why even attempting to discuss these kinds of issues with Professor Bowdler could have been sufficient to lead to a total breakdown in their previously very friendly relationship.

Rindos Reports to his Supervisors

Dr Rindos found himself in a quandary. What he had already discovered seemed, to him, quite unbelievable. Yet, at the same time, the evidence seemed consistent and the testimony truthful. He wasn't quite sure where to turn. Given the enormity of the problems, and especially given the atmosphere arising from the profound, but justifiable, fear of recrimination existing in that department, it was with understandable trepidation that he raised his concerns with the university administration.

Of course, had he not reported upon the conditions, he would have been guilty himself of not carrying out his duties. By reporting on conditions in the department, therefore, he was carrying out his duty, not only under Western Australian and Federal Equity Legislation, but also under the terms of the University's own Regulations Governing Heads of Departments. Dr Rindos, properly, began by speaking in confidence about the problems with his supervisor, the Head of his Division, thereby putting matters, properly, in the hands of his superior.

Rindos' First Formal Report

In December 1990, towards the end of his term as head, a still hopeful but obviously frightened Dr Rindos presented Professor Oxnard with a written copy of the notes he used for his oral reports documenting conditions in his department. As he concluded to Professor Oxnard:
"Overall, everybody seems scared . . . There is a general atmosphere is one in which battering is an acceptable practice: here, if staff batter staff, then staff batter students and students batter students. . . . I doubt I could expect any support from Academic Staff in any manner in any situation where Sandra and me were on different sides. Indeed, I think they would lie if necessary. . . . I feel basically confused, insecure and uncertain about EVERYTHING. I am aware of the recognition that there are "two sides to every story" and that I must be seeing things awfully strangely, simply because when I start telling the story it seems impossible to believe it could REALLY be THIS BAD. But I have NEVER seen a Department that is as much a snake pit as ours. . . . I am (sometimes) still excited by the possibilities that are offered for building a first-rate program here. I just want to get back to work. But I can't help but worry about where all of these problems with Sandra, and all of the difficulties in the Department, will lead. Yet, even as I consider leaving, I must confess I am a bit worried about what sort of review Sandra would write (yea, she has me good and scared too!).
In fact, the "review" of Dr Rindos written in 1991 by Professor Bowdler is possibly worse than he could ever have imagined. I say "possibly" because, in keeping with the general plan that was later put into action, he would never be permitted to know what Professor Bowdler said in that review.

However, at the time, this caused him little concern: he was specifically told by his supervisors, who had seen the report, to simply ignore whatever it might contain since anything she might produce would have no standing, and that it could not become part of his official University file. As he notes in a statement prepared under oath that he was made "aware of the existence of a document she had written as as a person working in the same field as myself. No details regarding her comments were conveyed to me, merely their existence, the fact that he held them to be 'silly,' and that they were not part of my official record."

Professor Bowdler's letter, however, was eventually to be placed in a special file, along with many others being churned out in her department. As as discussed in other section of this site, the creation of the file involved the intentional hiding of charges from Dr Rindos -- basically the creation of a Secret File to hold confidential, and exceedingly serious, charges made against him by others. And far from it being "ignored," all evidence seems to indicate that it formed part of the basis for the eventual dismissal of Dr Rindos by the University.

It appears that "confidential charges" at UWA, at least in this case, are clearly confidential in strongest of all possible senses -- they are charges which must always be kept confidential from the person against whom they have been lodged!

The case of the disappearing documents

Dr Rindos report on conditions from 1990 was placed into University files by Professor Oxnard. However, like so many other documents supporting Dr Rindos' case, it has mysteriously disappeared from the university. Even after more than a year and a half of searching University files under the Freedom of Information Act, numerous documents bearing strongly upon both the Archaeology Affair and Dr Rindos' treatment have yet to be found.

The only possibly relevant data to explain the disappearance of documents, especially those that were copied to many offices at UWA is contained in a letter written by the Secretary of the Division of Science in reply to Dr Rindos' Freedom of Information complaints regarding missing documents:

"Sometime in 1993 [during Dr Rindos' tenure review] I was asked by Professor Robert Wood, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor [and head of Dr Rindos' tenure review committee] for any papers . . . relevant to the case. . . . I personally handed the [archaeology] file to Professor Wood in his office in the Vice Chancellory and have not seen it since."

Professor Parfitt's Findings

Concerned about the dangers inherent in the situation, Professor Oxnard's also instructed Dr Rindos to report on his experiences in the Archaeology Department to the then Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Parfitt. Their meeting was held on February 22, 1991.

Professor Parfitt, independently of Professor Oxnard, had already conducted inquiries into the conditions in the department and, having interviewed three female students who came to him in a desperate state, confirms that the students believed, and had provided "detailed examples" of behavior leading to "harassment and victimization." This was related to matters of a "serious and personal nature" regarding a "senior member of staff," by which he refers to Professor Bowdler.

Regarding the conditions being visited upon the students Professor Parfitt wrote:

"Most disturbing were . .. allegations that other PhD students and a technician, all female, were being subjected to similar treatment. . . . I judged that the progress of three PhD candidates were being seriously and adversely affected by the alleged behaviour of members of the Archaeology Department. . . . They stated that during this distressing period one member of Archaeology staff, Dr David Rindos, had afforded them both supervision . . . and general support. Because of his support they feared that he too was being victimized."
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Parfitt makes clear that Dr Rindos had acted fully in keeping with his job requirements, and in the interest of the University and its students:
"None of the students suggested or hinted that Dr Rindos had behaved in anything other than a proper fashion. . . . My opinion is that Dr Rindos behaved throughout in a professional manner giving students ... the academic advice and guidance they needed."
He also makes clear that the fear of recrimination in Professor Bowdler's department was so profound that students and staff felt intimidated from speaking openly or publicly.
"I asked all three students to make their complaints in writing so that I might invoke . . . appropriate procedures. All refused, indicating that it would make matters worse for them."

Rindos Reports to the Equity Office

As a result of discussions with Professor Oxnard about the sexual and academic victimization which was occurring, Dr Rindos was also directed to report on conditions to the Equity Office. Dr Rindos has stated under oath that:
"In March [1991] I met with the equity officer, Ms Marie Osman, [who] expressed shock . . . and suggested I advise involved students to approach her in a confidential manner. As I was leaving, however, she warned me about certain undescribed "close ties" between Professor Bowdler and the Vice-Chancellor. "I later [May 1991] sought to ensure that my complaints to her were formal and was assured regarding this by the equity officer who said to me she had sufficient evidence to act."

The transfer to Geography

In early 1991, as a result of the problems identified in archaeology, and the consequent victimization they were suffering, Dr Rindos and several female postgraduate students were formally transferred by Professor Onxard, with the agreement of all university administrators including the Vice-Chancellor, to the Geography Department. Professor Oxnard recalls the reasons for the transfer:
"I did this because it was clear that Rindos and his postgraduate students were being rendered totally unproductive in the Archaeology milieu . . . I had talks with the Vice-Chancellory, with the Equity Office and with Personnel. All were in agreement on the move."
The move to Geography was formalised by Professor Oxnard in March 1991, although he had been informally advising Dr Rindos and his students to avoid the Archaeology Department, and its stresses, for a substantial period of time before that time.

[As shall be shown in another section of this Site, a 1992 Report recommending that Dr Rindos be denied tenure and fired, was to make the truly remarkable claim that "no evidence" could be found for his move to Geography -- this for an event which had announced by means of dozens of memoranda!]

The University Recognizes Victimization

All of Dr Rindos' students were given extraordinary extensions to scholarships and other funding by the University to make up for the poor academic conditions they had previously suffered, in some cases, going to lengths which could only be justified on the grounds of serious problems which were totally outside of the student's control:
"Request for funding a fifth year have only been approved on rare occasions and on the basis of exceptional circumstances. The Scholarships Committee noted that you had experienced serious difficulties . . . due to circumstances outside your direct control and for reasons which were associated with the internal processes of the University. . . . [Hence,] following the expiry [of all possible government funding] I am authorised to offer you a . . . University Research Studentship."
In 1993 Dr Rindos' Tenure Review Committee was to claim that while Dr Rindos had always performed well in the past, and while they were aware that a case might any drop in productivity at UWA might be due to conditions beyond their control, they said they were "unable to determine" if the fault was his. They also noted that they never consulted any of the many documents relating to the Archaeology Review -- this on the grounds that they were "confidential"!

The Move to Geography is Successful

The transfer to Geography had its intended result. Professor Oxnard indicates that
"The move to Geography worked. . . . [Rindos] became research productive there (even though that 'good' period only lasted for about nine months and not much long term work can be done in even nine months). . . "His graduate students (whom I also moved to Geography and whose work had also been seriously depressed during the period in Archaeology) improved greatly. . . . In fact, . .. a number of other graduate students became attracted to his area so that eventually by far the largest number of graduate students doing archaeology were with Rindos in Geography rather than in Archaeology proper. It seemed clear . . . that the move had freed him to allow him to make a high calibre contribution."
This opinion was seconded in an official tenure report by the Head of Geography who often met with Dr Rindos, and who clearly noticed no gross personality flaws or problems with his academic work:
"He is a very enthusiastic researcher and has become productive in the past few months since the burden of conflict has been removed from his situation. The enthusiasm is shown in the discussions he seeks to initiate in the Department which are always lively and interesting. Dr Rindos is undoubtedly eccentric and colourful. He is a pleasure to have in the Department and wishes to fit in with the staff and the functioning of the Department."
As shall be shown in other sections of this Site, the transfer to Geography, tragically, was to prove short-lived. With the departure of Professors Oxnard and Parfitt at the end of 1991 (for reasons totally unrelated to the problems in archaeology) the temporary solution, one developed by means of full and careful consultations, and one properly put into place to protect innocent parties, was to be reversed, and in early 1992 Dr Rindos and his students were to be removed from their new-found safety and returned to Archaeology. At that point, in the words of Professor Oxnard "everything went down-hill again."

The Performance Review of 1991

The University of Western Australia has a three-year "probationary period" for people newly appointed to a tenurable position. Until Dr Rindos was denied tenure, any problems arising during this period must have been handled relatively informally in that nobody prior to him had ever been denied tenure. Of course, the tradition of doing an exhaustive review prior to hiring into tenurable positions (in Australia, many of the less senior positions are filled by means of contracts) doubtless also contributed to this record of seemingly automatic tenuring in the higher ranks of the universities.

The probationary period calls for three yearly reports which are to be discussed with the person involved, and judged in writing by the faculty members' supervisor, and then by the Head of Division. In the case of Dr Rindos' 1990 report, judgment was done solely by the Head of Division because he was Head of his Department at that time. His 1991 report was first judged by his then Head of Department, Professor Taylor of Geography, and then the final report was prepared by the Head of Division, Professor Oxnard.

Given that tenure is granted on the third anniversary of arrival, it had always been the case that two positive reviews were sufficient to guarantee tenure. This precedent, just like so many others, was to be broken in Dr Rindos' case.

On May 27, 1991 an entry was put on Dr Rindos' Personal file mentioning his transfer to Geography, his earlier positive evaluation, and noting that the time for his next yearly report was fast approaching. The question was asked if the standard letter of reminder should be sent to the Head of Geography. This entry was annotated, at a later time, and by another hand (apparently carrying the initials of the the Director of Personnel, Marli Wallace): "Yes, please, and cc: to Sandra Bowdler and Divisional Head." At the top was added in that same hand, "please follow up URGENTLY."

Around the time he had been moved to Geography, and in a series of events which were not known to Dr Rindos or his supervisors, Professors Taylor and Oxnard, various letters making false and exceedingly damaging statements against Dr Rindos were being sent to this same Director of Personnel. Likewise, at the very same time that this entry was put into his file, a huge crisis was occurring in the Introductory Archaeology Class which he was teaching, a crisis which had been created by Professor Bowdler, but which, in numerous memoranda and letters (including one sent to the students at their home addresses), she was blaming on him. The various charges being made against him, of course, may have been relevant to the action taken by the Director of Personnel.

A few days later, Professor Taylor received a phone call from the same Assistant to the Director who had annotated Dr Rindos' file. According to Professor Taylor's notes to file of the call, he was instructed to ask Professor Bowdler to comment upon Dr Rindos' performance. He followed up on this and sent a memo to Professor Bowdler using the same wording given to him over the phone and attaching Dr Rindos' Yearly Report of 7 June 1991, as he had been instructed.

Professor Bowdler replied in a lengthy letter dated 17 June 1991. As might be expected, she had nothing good to say about Dr Rindos, and indeed went on at considerable length pointing out his flaws past, present and future. It was certainly quite a turn-about from the earlier evaluation written when she was attempting to bring him to the UWA.

Hence, even before Dr Rindos' second yearly evaluation began, and in what would later develop into a total nullification of Professor Oxnard's intentions in attempting to remove him from Archaeology, and the ongoing victimization, Professor Bowdler was brought back into his review process.

Professor Taylor forwarded Dr Rindos' Yearly Report and Professor Bowdler's comments to Head of Division, Professor Oxnard on 17 July, supplying his own positive performance review on August 13, 1991. Interestingly, and possibly related to its strong support for Dr Rindos, this formal review of Dr Rindos' performance by his head of department was never mentioned in any of the reports recommending he be denied tenure.

Professor Oxnard's summary review of Dr Rindos performance, and the problems of the past year, was forwarded to the Vice-Chancellor in September 1991. This report, seeking to be as objective as possible, especially given the conditions over the previous year or so, pointed to both strengths and weaknesses in Dr Rindos' performance as viewed by Professor Bowdler, but, in fact, dealt more with her attitudes toward Dr Rindos than his actual performance.

This letter to the Vice-Chancellor made the overall situation perfectly clear -- the immediate problems had been solved by the move of Dr Rindos and his students, and the pending Review of Archaeology could be relied upon to deal with the more fundamental and long-standing problems in the management of the Department.

More importantly, or so it seemed at the time, the transfer of Dr Rindos had allowed for an objective assessment of performance. Hence, following the receipt of Professor Oxnard's letter saying that his performance had formally been judged "satisfactory" (the term used at UWA to indicate progress without prejudice), Dr Rindos relaxed. He had received two satisfactory ratings, and therefore, (except in the, fundamentally hypothetical, case of formal notice being given him during his third and final year regarding newly discovered problems with his performance) tenure would automatically be granted in June 1992.

As the story was to develop over the next few months, however, it would turn out that Dr Rindos and Professor Oxnard (among very many others) could not have been more wrong! The documentation leads to the conclusion that Professor Oxnard was relying upon the upcoming Review of Archaeology to settle the problems in Archaeology. And while it was clear that he had lost patience with the campaign being waged against Dr Rindos (see, for example, his note to Professor Bowdler of October 1991), it appears that his trust in the University processes of review was to cause him to ignore the possible consequences of the letters she would continue to circulate (e.g. her letters of reply to the vice-chancellor regarding Dr Rindos and staffing.

The Memo Blitz

While Professors Oxnard and Parfitt had arranged a safe haven in Geography, in large part to stop what they saw as interference from Professor Bowdler, nobody could claim that they interfered with her ability to get her point of view on these developments, and Dr Rindos, into University files. For example, during the three month period from March-May 1991, Professor Bowdler sent out nearly 50 memorandum relating to Dr Rindos. This represents an average of 4 memoranda a week being sent out to contest, and complain about the new arrangements! She complained at no end about alleged "problems" with his teaching when, in fact, student reviews of his teaching were very good. Yet, her claims appear to have been taken as if they were based in reality, when, in fact, no credible evidence was ever offered by her for any of her allegations against Dr Rindos. When one considers that these memoranda made it necessary for others to reply, and that frequently several offices and numerous people were involved in replying to various parts of them, it can be appreciated that the documentary record is anything but a brief one.

The topics of these memoranda varied widely -- from teaching assignments, to supply of equipment, to what she recalled and didn't recall being discussed at meetings, to desks and filing cabinets, and even her views of Dr Rindos in a letter sent to students at their home addresses -- but all made perfectly clear that the new arrangements were creating terrible problems for her. One might query how a faculty member and his students not being in her department could cause her such grave distress, but, according to the record, such was the case.

It is likely significant that most of these memoranda were being copied to Personnel Services, oftentimes without any indication of this on the copy sent to the parties to whom they were addressed. The pattern of sending out "blind copies," often with additional annotations, led to a situation where Professor Bowdler's view of events was being conveyed to the office having ultimate control over implementation of decisions such as tenuring, while the point of view of the other parties was not to be included.

Furthermore, beginning in early 1991 and continuing through 1992, she and other members of her department were sending out "Confidential and In Confidence" letters complaining about Dr Rindos and reiterating their view that he had been a terribly disruptive influence in Archaeology. These letters, many of which made the most remarkable claims about Dr Rindos as both a scholar and a person, were sent to various parties, up to and including the Vice-Chancellor herself (see, for example, the letter sent to the Vice-Chancellor as a result of Professor Bowdler having received a memorandum from Professor Oxnard noting that the reason Dr Rindos had been transferred from her department was that she had been unable to get along with him). Again, one might query why, even if such had been the case, complaints about Dr Rindos' "disruptive habits" and "improper behaviour" would start appearing only after he had been removed from the Archaeology Department and assigned elsewhere. But, again, according to the record, such was the case.

And, as has been noted earlier, particularly troubling was the fact that these complaints were never shown to Dr Rindos for either information or reply. Instead, as shall be shown elsewhere, they were placed, against written University regulations, into a "special" file so that he would be unable to know of the existence of these letters, no less the allegations they contained.

The Rindos Files: Under Construction

Several long files, at present under construction by Dr Rindos, will eventually be available at this Site. These will consider events during 1991 in an ethnographic manner. [NOTE: These planned submissions were never completed.]

  1. Rindos' Arrival and Early Experiences
  2. Events in Early 1991
  3. Archaeology 120 Explodes
  4. The Performance Review of 1991
  5. Staffing and Finance
  6. The Hidden Files
  7. Deconstructing the Record
These files will consider, in detail, the many memoranda and letters generated as a result of events during 1991. The thesis explored, and found exceedingly well-supported by the documentary record, is that during this period of time a "Textual Dr Rindos" came alive in the files of the University of Western Australia. This textual entity was a most unpleasant fellow, indeed. He was a lazy, arrogant, incompetent, disruptive, and had highly questionable ethical standards, particularly in relationship to the legitimate concerns of indigeneous Australians. He also indulged in all manner of inappropriate personal activities, some of which were exceedingly offensive to women. Certainly, such a person, had he really existed, would have no place in any university.

One fascinating aspect of the textualization of Dr Rindos was that nobody, including Dr Rindos, seemed to be particularly aware that this process was occurring. Part of this can be accounted for by the fact that many of the documents in which allegations were made were hidden away from the concerned parties. But, in other cases, known charges were accepted as requiring rebuttle. For example, as shall be shown, various academic charges against him came to become viewed as "true" and were dealt with on that basis by himself and his supervisors, even though the evidence at hand contradicted the charges and, therefore, they could easily have been dismissed on that basis alone. To invoke a vastly overworked metaphore -- the map had become confused with the land, and began to be treated as if it were real.

Another theme which becomes apparent in the documentary analysis is that, even though these various memoranda were clearly intended to achieve specific ends, the manner in which they did so is far more complex and undirected than one might at first assume. Goals were not reached directly, but instead, the center kept shifting in apparent response to immediate events rather than the long-term goals themselves.

These two themes -- textuality and response to immediate problems and challenges rather than long-term goals -- are then explored in terms of a theory of cultural change. The hypothesis advanced and defended, in brief, runs as follows.

We will accept the "humanistic" view of culture as one that, in large part, is encompassed by the idea that culture, and cultural transmission and hence change, is based upon the conveyance of "texts." These texts are fundamentally unrelated to the "real world." They must initially be generated by individual, acting, human beings. They are independent of fundamental social scientific concepts such as "function," "structure" and "adaptation." These kinds of concepts characterize, and relate to populational-level phenomena, and cannot be used to explain any action take by an individual agent.

The argument will then be made that the specific manifestations of cultural processes in a specific, real-world, setting (its "phenotype;" its "parole"), does not arise merely as a direct consequence of the writing of the text itself. It is impossible for the text, isolated as it is from any of the myriad potential implementations which might occur, to be "cause" for real-world cultural actions in any rigorous sense. Instead, the implementation of one actual outcome from the myriad possible outcomes which are potential within a world filled with varied and "competing" texts can only be explained as the result of selection of undirected texts. It is only by means of selection of competing, alternative, readings within the social and cultural setting that certain texts become implemented in a real-world sense. Various factors, variables well know and developed within the humanistic tradition of our field may be seen (and indeed have been used within that tradition) to provide the means by which the "fitness" of competing texts may be judged.

Hence, and in a conclusion that will likely bring little joy to scholars working in either the "humanistic" or "scientific" traditions of our field, the "texts" of the humanists, seen and operationalized in these terms, provide the very foundation needed by scientists working to develop a Darwinian, Cultural Selectionist, theory for cultural function and change. By taking this synthetic approach, it will be argued, a unitary model may be used to explicate both the "adaptive" and the "symbolic" extremes identifiable within the continuum of cultural function and change.

A similar analysis dealing largely with the events from the end of 1991 (when he was moved from the safety of the geography department) to mid-1993 (when he was fired) will consider in detail the manner in which the symbolically mediated decision to get rid of the Textual Dr Rindos came to be implemented in a specific social setting, one having very real, highly circumscribed, and easily identifiable traditions, written regulations, and hierarchical structures. If the "History" section of this site may be described in general terms as "anthropological," then the following "Tenure" section of the site would best be viewed as "sociological." Here, (the real and really unemployed) Dr Rindos presents a analysis of how the decision to be rid of the Textual Dr Rindos was implemented, and how a second kind of textuality, this one directed to the social, structural rather than symbolic concerns, had to be created by the UWA to justify decisions precipitated by the earlier text.

It is expected that the "History" analyses discussed above will be uploaded for comment in the near future (perhaps by early 1996). This event will be announced on the regular mailing lists for the field (Anthro-l and Arch-l).

Memorial Messages and Files

With David Rindos' untimely death, there is a possibility for some rather significant changes to the Committee's scope, its focus on the UWA, and thus the whole UWA-Rindos Affair.

A number of memorial messages have been made available:

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