On Wed, 23 Jun 1993 [!] I posted to the anthropology and archaeology mailing lists a general article about the denial of tenure to Dr David Rindos entitled "Suppression of Academic Freedom." It began:
"I believe it is time that the membership of Anthro-l began to discuss the topic of academic suppression and what can be done to help our colleagues in other parts of the world who are suffering abuse due to the personal convictions of their superiors or government."After sketching out what little was then know about the case, I asked the, at that point largely rhetorical, question: "What action can the international community take?"
It appears that now, 3 years after Dave was fired, and almost 6 years after he made his earliest reports on the scandal existing the archaeology department at UWA, the international community has been given the opportunity, and, indeed, encouraged by a neutral party, to act!
On Saturday I received the text of an advertisement which appeared in the Australian press calling for submissions to be sent to a Parliamentary Committee which is now holding a formal, Parliamentary enquiry into the events surrounding the denial of tenure to Dave Rindos, and the general managment of the University of Western Australia. You are all invited to join in and have your say!
These submissions, of course, can be as blunt and honest as one might like because they will be fully covered by the Privilege of Parliament. You should also note there is NO problem, given the invoking of Standing Order 324 of the West Australian Parliament, for people to request that their testimony be kept confidential.
For background, feel free to consult the Rindos/UWA Web Site at
http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~hjarvis/rindos.htmlI personally believe that one of the most important things to stress is that, from an international perspective, it is clear that the University of Western Australia has made a royal mess of everything we as academics hold dear. The enquiry is certainly interested in assessing the harm which has been done to UWA's reputation, and even notes this point in its Terms of Refrence.
(You might want to look at the Rindos Site in the Press and Parliamentary areas, as well as the Net and Letters areas. The complete Terms of Reference are on the site at the top of the "Recent Developments" page.)
It is still an amazement to me to look back and read the nonsense that UWA felt appropriate to mention in its replies to what people have said about this whole affair, not the least of which has been posted by various University personnel on these lists! (Look in the Site at the Net and Denial of Tenure areas.)
Perhaps the only good thing that has come out of this affair is that we have collectively been able to discover the wonderful effect the Internet can have in terms of making academia more accountable AND more international.
The published Parliamentary ad gives the full Terms of Reference and then notes the following:
"The Committee intends to report to the House by August 1996.
"Interested persons are invited to make a written submission to the Committee. The submission need not be detailed: a short condensed statement citing the relevance to a particular term of reference would be sufficient. Any person wishing to meet the Committee to speak in support of his/her written submission should make that request in the submission.
"All submissions should be sent to:
"SUBMISSIONS RECEIVED AFTER THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON MONDAY, MAY 6 1996 MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED BY THE COMMITTEE BECAUSE OF TIME RESTRAINTS."
I note, again, that terms of reference could NOT be broader, and the concern of the WA Parliament with "proper procedures" and "need to maintain integrity, professionalism, and international standing" of the University make it perfectly fine for ANY interested party to respond.
If you need a copy of the terms of reference, or want to refresh yourself on the details of the events over the past several years, remember, there just happens to be a well-stocked Web site all ready to help you. :-)
http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~hjarvis/rindos.htmlYou may access the Call for Submissions published by Parliament by choosing the first option on the "Recent Developments" page on the site.
Given the sometimes slow movement of the mails, and the rather fast approaching deadline, I note that the FAX for the WA Parliament is:
Thank you very much and let's hope this whole mess is cleared up soon as it certainly has been a drawn out process for everyone involved! The harm to our discipline has been severe, as has been the harm to students and to academic freeedom!