As many of you know, the controversy surrounding the booking of the Octagon Theatre by the Australian Family Association for a speaking event featuring Dr Quentin van Meter led to my calling of an extraordinary meeting of the Academic Board to open up deep debate about the broader issue of the role of universities in providing a place for uncensored and robust discussion and debate on the many issues in society today.
The extraordinary meeting of the Academic Board resolved to propose the creation of a working group to consult widely on matters relating to freedom of expression with the view to making a recommendation to the Academic Board and the Senate on the adoption of a statement of the University’s values:
RESOLVED – 51
to agree with the proposition that:
i. a working group be established to consult widely across various constituents including the Academic Board, Convocation, Student body, academic and professional staff to develop a set of principles that guides the University on issues of freedom of expression in the future; and
ii. the drafted principles be considered by the Academic Board at a future meeting for advice/recommendation to the Vice-Chancellor and the Senate accordingly.
I am pleased to advise that Professor Colin MacLeod has agreed to act as the convenor of UWA’s new Freedom of Expression Working Group (FEWG). The FEWG will include representation from staff, students and alumni. The working group itself will define its own processes for consultation, with the view to making a recommendation to the Academic Board by March 2019.