Fay Gale, Vice-Chancellor &
Alan Robson, Acting Vice-Chancellor
The University of Western Australia
NEDLANDS WA 6907
Ma'am & Sir,
I have been following the Rindos case for some time now, but had refrained from comment because I had heard only one side of the story. However, now that I have had the opportunity to peruse your response to Hugh Jarvis and your press release concerning the matter, I have one thing to say to you, BALDERDASH!
As a historian I've spent a lot of time unraveling self-serving nonsense from many cultures and many times, but I have rarely seen such a bald attempt to deny justice and squash legitimate inquiry into ethical matters.
I was appalled by the collapse of the UWA archaeology department, and can only construe your treatment of Dr Rindos as retaliation for exposing the weaknesses of that department. Your opposition to proper resolution of ethical complaints demonstrates a contempt for your own staff and students which should discourage any serious scholar from having anything to do with your university. The only way that your university can reestablish credibility is to come clean and cooperate fully, without having to be bludgeoned by the law, the press, and professional censure.
Your veiled threat to Hugh Jarvis that his article,"...comes close to defamation..." and that you have "...referred the statement to [your] lawyers..." is nothing short of astounding, and goes a long way towards substantiating Dr Rindos' claims in and of itself.The fact that you have attempted to intimidate Hugh Jarvis into silence demonstrates that you are indeed capable of what Dr Rindos has accused you of; namely, threatening & punishing persons who expose the foibles of your university.
It is NOT defamation to report facts, analyze them for truth, and publicize them. It is the duty of all people of integrity to expose injustice, and it is the right of any wronged person to demand redress. Further, it is the obligation of any person or agency so accused to answer for their conduct promptly, clearly, openly, and honestly.
If the conduct of the UWA was in fact above board and honest then the UWA should have promptly provided the documents Dr Rindos and other sources requested, it especially should have provided sworn testimony when required to do so. The fact that it was not provided suggests that somebody is afraid of being caught in a lie for which they will be legally liable. It is notable that Dr Rindos promptly provided his own sworn statement as required; Dr Rindos seems to be the only person involved in this affair who understands his duty to answer to the law when asked to do so.
The conflation of legitimate complaint with defamation, the suppression of inquiry, and the failure to publicly redress wrongs demonstrates an arrogance unbecoming for persons in positions of public authority. Such people bear a more onerous burden of propriety than do ordinary persons, as their decisions and actions have a profound impact on the reputations, careers, and personal lives of many people. The administration of justice within a university is a complex process best carried out by the light of day, so that students, staff, and interested persons around the world can see the guilty fairly punished and the innocent preserved from harm. That is the only way in which the integrity of a university can remain intact, even if some representative of the university is found to have engaged in improper behavior.
Considering the university's stonewalling so far, I realize that this letter will fall under blind eyes, generating at best a rote response of pious nonsense, or that if it is noticed, it will probably result in me receiving a veiled threat pretty much like Hugh Jarvis has received; that being the case, I shall feel free to publish whatever correspondence I receive from you. You see, your behavior has so impaired your own reputation that anybody who criticizes you must first pause to ask themselves if they might be subjected to punitive actions in retalitation-a fear that ought not exist in a civilized country.
Author & Editor
Baltimore, Maryland, USA