A MURDOCH UNIVERSITY academic has complained to her union that she was told to remove a tweet supporting refugees because it doesn’t align with the university’s “brand”.
Murdoch is strongly denying the claim, stating through an anonymous spokesperson it has a “long and proud history of academic freedom of expression”.
But the spokesperson adds the university also expects its academics to “make it clear they are posting in a personal capacity when participating on any public platform”.
On Tuesday, Dr Kate Fitch tweeted to her private Twitter account a photo of the university’s Students for Refugees group, in front of a banner saying #LetThemStay. There was no commentary in the tweet.
She later complained to the National Tertiary Education Union she’d been ordered to remove the tweet, an order she refused to comply with. NTEU WA secretary Gabe Gooding was “frankly appalled” by the order, which had allegedly come from a member of the university’s marketing team.
Ironically, Dr Fitch chairs the university’s public relations program.
Ms Gooding intends to raise the matter with university chiefs “very shortly” because of the implications for academic freedom.
The NTEU is preparing to weigh in at a national level too, because it feels the incident is indicative of a growing trend.
“Universities have seriously lost their way,” Ms Gooding says, noting they’re re-positioning themselves as businesses and cracking down on academics who get in the way of the bottom line. UWA recently re-branded itself a “$1 billion innovation business”.
Murdoch is adamant Dr Fitch was “not told to remove the tweet”. “Academic and professional staff are encouraged to participate in public debate on every level,” the anonymous spokesperson stated.
“Pivotal to the principle of freedom of expression is the requirement that representatives of the university make it clear they are posting in a personal capacity when participating on any public platform.”
by STEVE GRANT