Te Hautū Kahurangi | Tertiary Education Union is disturbed to note the continued escalation of harassment, and racist and threatening behaviour directed at academics in Aotearoa. An alarming amount of this behaviour is directed at female academics of colour, many of whom are our members.

It has been suggested in some quarters that people who express opinions in public should expect negative attention. TEU National Secretary Sandra Grey disagrees. “Victim blaming is unacceptable. It is an academic’s job to be the critic and conscience of society and sometimes this means saying things that some might find uncomfortable and/or threatening to their world view. Having your ideas challenged comes with the territory but racism and threats of death and violence should not.”

Grey believes the time has come for employers in our sector to stop sitting on their hands. “Tertiary institutions need to take this seriously and fulfil their duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment where all staff can do their jobs without worrying about being a target. Comprehensive audits into physical and digital security are needed but at the very least, safe spaces should be provided and anyone who threatens a staff member must be trespassed from campus immediately whenever practicable.”