Economics 101: if we say we will help Maori and Pacific students, we can try to gouge the lot

October 21, 2012

Alf is trying to get to grips with the reasoning given by Victoria University bosses for wanting to hoist student fees.

According to a report at Stuff (here), the university has applied to raise undergraduate education, social sciences and humanities fees by 8 per cent.

That’s double the maximum allowed under government restrictions.

So does this make them a bunch of rip-off merchants?

At first blush, it sure does.

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Doctors need to know the differences between blokes and sheilas – so what else is there to gender studies?

December 1, 2010

One has a willy, the other hasn't - so what's to be studied?

Alf can’t get too excited about the axing of New Zealand’s first gender studies programme at Victoria University.

Yes, he has heard the wailings from feminist Sandra Coney who says there are still gains to be made in feminist movements where work was “not complete by any stretch of the imagination”.

It was a shame Victoria University was removing courses that catered to a diverse range of people, she said. “You’re really undermining … the concept of what a university is.”

But Alf can’t get too excited.

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Sharples’ recipe for a half-baked degree

June 17, 2009

In his controversial Orewa speech a few years back, Don Brash argued that the Treaty process was out of control, that race-based political correctness is infecting the institutions of our society, and that we are headed towards a racially divided nation, with two sets of laws and two standards of citizenship.

He contended there could be no basis for government funding based on race, no basis for separate Maori electorates, no basis for introducing Maori wards in local authority elections, and no obligation for local government to consult Maori in preference to other New Zealanders.

Strong stuff.

There was huge support for Brash’s boldly expressed opinions. There was widespread denunciation of him as a racist, too.

On balance, New Zealanders have opted to avoid being branded racists. We turn a blind eye to the gradual evolution of two sets of laws and two standards of citizenship, if we don’t actively encourage it.

Hence Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples has been encouraged to call for universities to consider open entry for some students.

Yep. Maori students.
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Flag burning treasonable? Nope – it’s unsafe

May 21, 2009

Victoria University in Wellington has done the right thing, but for the wrong reasons, by banning three students (temporarily, alas) for burning a New Zealand flag on campus.

The students burnt the flag outside a campus bar on May 6 as part of an Anzac Day anti-war protest.

But they have not been punished for behaving disgracefully, or for insulting our flag, or for treason.

Nope. The buggers have been done for breaching safety rules.

The university has disenrolled flag burners Joel Cosgrove and Alistair Reith, and Ian Anderson, who filmed the protest, until the end of the first trimester on June 7 on the grounds they breached health and safety standards.

It also issued a written warning to Marika Pratley, who was there at the time, and banned all four from the Mount Street bar.

“These students have shown a disregard for the safety of others and of university property,” dean of humanities and social sciences Professor Deborah Willis said.

The students had set the New Zealand flag alight using an accelerant without warning anyone around them or having any means to put out the fire.

Whether the flag-burning endangered anyone is questionable. It happened outside in the rain, for starters, and anyone who doesn’t have the wits to get out of the way of a burning flag should not be at university.

Prof Willis accordingly is seriously testing Alf’s credulity when she warbles about the university’s statutory duty to provide a safe environment for all its students and employees.

Are the university authorities trying to tell us burning the flag on Anzac Day is okay so long as you warn everybody first and have the fire brigade on hand to douse the flames?


Stand by with the fire hoses

April 20, 2009

It seemed – for a moment – the Parliamentary security people should be alerted.

The alarm bell was raised by a media statement headed “Major conference to discuss presence of Māori in Parliament”.

Its first sentence was:

Sparks could fly when a major conference brings together speakers from across the political spectrum to discuss the presence of Maori in Parliament next month.

So some hothead will set fire to the place?

Probably not.

The conference – Maori and Parliament – is the eighth in a series run by Victoria University’s Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, and the Former Parliamentarians’ Association. It will be held in Parliament Buildings from 8-9 May.

Conference organiser Professor Lydia Wevers says

“With the combination of people we have—from across the spectrum—sparks may fly.”

Ah. Looks like someone is keen to grab a headline.

On second thoughts, maybe there’s a greater danger of Alf being hit by a flying pig than of seeing sparks fly at a gabfest organised by academics on the presence of Maori in Parliament.

A conference on the spelling of W(h)anganui which pits mayor Michael Laws and local supporters against Maori – then the debate might get heated.