NZ Universities have a mandated obligation to be the social conscience of society and they uphold that obligation with academic free speech.
Those obligations are to the wider society, and are part of their social contract with a liberal progressive democracy. That’s why they get so much public money.
They also have an obligation to provide a work environment and study environment that protects staff and students from physical harm and harassment. To conflate this obligation into a health and safety responsibility to protect staff and students from ideas that will trigger them however is intellectually dishonest.
A University doesn’t have an obligation to shield staff and students from ideas that might trigger them, that is the relationship between a parent and a child. A University has an obligation to challenge their staff and students and provide support that enables their ability to cope with that challenge.
What Massey have done is conflate the relationship between University and staff/students to that of a parent protecting their children from unpleasant content, that’s not their responsibility.
It is intellectual cowardice to circumvent their obligations as a critic of society by conflating health and safety issues to protect staff and students from being triggered. Massey’s job is to challenge and support their students and staff, not wrap them in cotton wool and protect them from thought crimes.
This is a deeply embarrassing day for NZ academia.
We all lose out when a University is prepared to self censor themselves in this manner, if Massey can’t live up to its mandated obligations as a critic of society, hand back all the public money and set up as a private club.