Auckland VC defends academic freedom

Posted By TEU on Sep 8, 2011 | 1 comment

Auckland University vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon is defending one of his academics saying she, and other academics have a right to free speech. Prof McCutcheon told Fairfax Media he understood the concerns raised over Prof Margaret Mutu’s reported comments on “white” immigration, but he believed strongly in the right of academics to comment on issues where they had expertise, even when those comments may be controversial.

“The Education Act protects the right of academics within the law to question and test received wisdom, to put forward new ideas and to state controversial or unpopular opinions. That is an important right in a free society.”

A formal complaint against Professor Mutu has been lodged with the Race Relations Commissioner over comments she about the need to restrict “white” immigration.

In the Sunday Star Times Professor Mutu said the number of people coming from South Africa, England and the United States should be restricted, as they bring attitudes of white supremacy and are destructive to Māori.

That outraged Nga Puhi leader David Rankin, who said the comments were racist and a step “too far”. Mr Rankin says he has written a complaint to the Race Relations Commissioner, and has included Professor Mutu’s employer the University of Auckland in his complaint.

“They continue to have her on the payroll”, he explains, “and have come out to support and endorse her racist comments”.

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