Uni address ban stirs up academic hornets


Published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 1 August 1989, p. 4.

Staff at the University of NSW have been banned from giving the university as their address in letters to the press under a new policy.

Academics are angered at what they see as a breach of academic freedom and will call for the withdrawal of the ban at two university meetings today.

And yesterday the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jarlath Ronayne, after asking what objections there were to the ban, conceded: "Maybe we have to look at the policy again."

The ban, issued in the latest administration manual, which has gone to heads of department, has not been widely circulated and has not been publicised in any university internal bulletins.

It reads:

"The University's letterhead should be used and the University quoted as the address only for correspondence that is directly related to the University's business.

"In particular, correspondence between a member of staff and the press is regarded as personal correspondence, and the member is not permitted to use the University as his or her address."

The Professor of Law, Professor Ivan Shearer, said it had long been accepted that if academics wrote to the press on matters within an area of their expertise, they used the university address.

Professor Eugenie Lumbers, Professor of Physiology, said: "How can I write to the press on medical science and research - 30 per cent of my salary goes to research - without that being a professional, not a personal matter?"

Dr John Carmody said he would call at today's academic board meeting for withdrawal of the ban.

He said it was ironic that the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Birt, only recently wrote to the press saying a university was "committed to free speech" and "it is essential in a democracy for members to be able to speak out publicly about any issue which affects the good of the whole".

This document is located on

Suppression of dissent website

in the section on Documents

in the subsection on Australian university speech codes