In February 1992, even before the Review of the Archaeology Department had been formally presented, Dr Rindos was called by a journalist for comments on the alleged "personality dispute" underlaying the problems in that department.
As a consequence, he contacted the Vice-Chancellor (his letter and her reply follow)
245 R------ St
D----- WA 6018
Professor Faye Gale
Dear Professor Gale:
On the evening of 24 February I was rung at home by a journalist, a Mr Reid from the "West Australian". He read me a series of statements which had been made by Mr Orr, the Registrar. I found the statements upsetting, and perhaps even potentially damaging to me, my career, and my reputation.
Therefore, on 25 February, I called the Registrar the very first thing in the morning. I did the same with your office. I said to a member of your staff that I was sorry to have to bother you, pointed out that this was the first time I had ever contacted your office, and concluded that since the current problem had to do with a public statement made by a university officer I therefore felt that my concerns should properly directed be to your office rather than elsewhere.
When I spoke with Mr Orr later in the morning, I expressed concern over the statements he made, at least as understood by me. Mr Orr admitted that my recollection of what the journalist had told me was a proper accounting of what he had said. When I asked him why he had made such statements, he said because they were "true." I then pointed out, in some detail, why the statements were not true. He listened. We discussed the matter a bit. He then apologised to me, noted that he had obviously been misinformed, and said he would contact the journalist and retract his statements.
Mr Orr also pointed out that he had made his statements for the sole purpose of keeping the current situation "quiet." We both agreed that this would be for the best, especially since you are holding an Inquiry into events in the Archaeology Department at this time (or according to my more recent information: that you will be deciding if you will do so -- what I am told by Dr Partis, sadly, seems to change on an almost daily basis).
Sometime around 4pm I returned from teaching and again contacted Mr Orr. I asked if he had managed to get the statements retracted. He said the matter was on his calendar and that I should not worry about it. I then called your office again, and was told that I should direct any inquiries in this matter to Dr Partis.
Professor Gale, I am very upset by this whole business. Several items contribute to my feelings in this matter.
I am upset by the content of what Mr Orr told the press. I do not wish to be represented as being involved in some sort of "personality conflict" with members of staff of the Archaeology Department. I am certain that "personality conflicts" play no role in the current problems facing archaeology in the university, and I also know for a fact that other staff members, both current and former, of this university would attest to this. As the person who has been "outside" of that Department, any comments along the lines of "getting people back together and forcing them to get along" clearly involves me as an identifiable, and hence "guilty" person.
I am also upset that Mr Orr's statements might represent the true feelings of the University. If this is the case, I am doubly distressed that I was not able to speak to your office on my own behalf. I would think that talking to you on this issue would have been appropriate. I am sad that your office found it necessary to refuse my request for even a brief phone conversation with you.
I also felt that I was being "fobbed off" onto Dr Partis. When I spoke with him, he could not answer my questions about why Mr Orr might have made the statements he made, he could not explain their meaning, and he could not assure me that appropriate action would be taken on the matter.
I conveyed to Dr Partis my disappointment that I had been unable to communicate with you and pointed out that certain people in the Archaeology Department have prided themselves on the open access you have shown them.
These last years have been trying times for me, and I must admit that, at least upon occasion, I am less than convinced of the good intentions of our university. Incidents like this do nothing to reassure me.
The University of Western Australia Office of The ViceChancellor Nedlands, Perth Vice-Chancellor Western Australia 6009 Professor Fay Gale, AO Facsimile (09) 380 1013 Telephone (09) 380 2801 FG/bg245 R----- Street
Dear Dr Rindos
Thank you for your letter of 26 February 1992.
I appreciate your deep concerns, but it is important that the issues you have raised are dealt with systematically.
As you know, I have appointed Dr Mike Partis as Executive Head of the Department of Archaeology. This appointment was endorsed by the Senate at its meeting of 24 February 1992. All authority has thereby been delegated to Dr Partis from both myself and the Senate.
It is therefore essential that you work with Dr Partis directly in resolving the matters that concern you.
cc: Dr M T Partis