One committee at the University of Queensland has overridden the decision of another to bring the proposed major in Western Civilisation one step closer to implementation.
The approval takes place one week after votes opposing the Ramsay Centre were made at both a Humanities and Social Sciences Board of Studies meeting and a general meeting of the student body.
CAPP is the first committee with a significant administration presence in its membership to consider the major.
In comparison, the HASS Board of Studies, which rejected the proposal (although it still ended up being referred to CAPP), comprises only academics within the HASS faculty.
The National Tertiary Education Union’s UQ branch president Andrew Bonnell criticised the result.
“For management to push the Ramsay Centre proposal through against the declared wishes of the majority of staff in the HASS Faculty, and against two votes of the HASS Faculty Board of Studies, is not only blatantly anti-democratic, it suggests that the academic governance structures that are essential for quality control and the maintenance of academic integrity are being dangerously hollowed out by this administration.”
Semper reached out to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Joanne Wright, who chairs CAPP, and got a response from a UQ spokesperson.
“In reaching the decision to put forward the Western Civilisation curriculum to UQ’s Committee for Academic Programs Policy (CAPP) the Executive Dean carefully considered the feedback from the Board of Studies, the scholarships on offer, along with the opportunities for students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences,” the spokesperson said.
“The Executive Dean believes the curriculum is more rigorous as a result of the Board’s feedback, and it responds to concerns raised earlier in the process,” they said.
We think it’s important to note here that the kinds of concerns we’ve heard about the Western Civilisation major (ie. that it’s intrinsically racist, academically disingenuous, and gives out questionable scholarships) seem difficult to just take as feedback and rectify in time for a committee meeting.
And even if it were possible to come up with a new plan that was totally responsive to this feedback, it also seems like the polite thing to do would be to take it back to the Board of Studies to be sure it was responsive instead of moving on without their approval.
As it stands, the Board of Studies has rejected the Western Civilisation major three times.
UQ Union president Georgia Millroy said the results of Wednesday’s committee meeting were disappointing after the results of the student general meeting.
“We gathered 500 students to vote on this major, and their strong opposition could not have been made clearer,” Ms Millroy said.
“We want the administration to acknowledge that the student voice matters,” she said.
From this point, the major only needs to pass through the University’s Academic Board and the Senate, which is the peak governing body.
We reported in February that the Academic Board’s first consideration of the proposed major was largely critical; however, no official vote was taken at that time.