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Letter to: Dr Jim Franklin (Course Coordinator, Music, SoCA) From: Ian Shanahan, Lecturer in Performance & Composition, SoCA/Music


[The Higher Reason is king].

– Plotinus, b. AD 204.

And in that day the world will not be marvelled at

Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be preferred to life. No one will gaze into heaven.

And the pious man will be counted as insane, and the impious man will be honoured as wise. The man who is afraid will be considered as strong. And the good man will be punished like a criminal.

it is in danger of becoming a burden to all

– from Asklepios (Nag Hammadi Codex VI), ca.3rd century AD.

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.

– George Bernard Shaw: Maxims for Revolutionists.

Dear Jim,

Thank you for bringing to my attention in writing what are (I do agree) serious allegations, in order that I may have the opportunity to respond to them in like manner. However, before addressing points 1) to 5) from your memo of 4.9.98 as directly as possible, I wish to begin by raising some preliminary observations that are of considerable concern to me:

1. Because your communicants are all unnamed in your memo, and because many of the allegations themselves are quite vague in nature (e.g. lacking specific details such as dates), I am at a loss as to how exactly I can address such allegations specifically and directly. At best, in many instances, I can only speak in broad generalities, or apply my deductive faculties in order to guess at the circumstances to which I am responding: I do hope you agree that this is far from being an ideal situation in regard to fairness.

2. As such, I am personally alarmed and highly disappointed at the process that appears to be unfolding here – which is, to me, redolent of a Salem witch-hunt. Prior to your memo, Jim, during 1998 I have received no complaints whatsoever from any student or member of staff as to

my professional conduct or fulfilment of duties: your formal communication (as Music’s Course Coordinator) of allegations and complaints is the first occasion on which they have been raised with me.

a) Assuming (alas, perhaps wrongly) that I do serve within an institution of ‘learning’ and ‘collegiality’ that promotes ‘the civilized path’, I had hoped and expected that any colleagues or students who have had any problems with me would possess the decency, sense of responsibility, and depth of character to broach such problems with me directly, and that if such problems were not resolved to our mutual satisfaction, matters would only then be taken further.

b) Under such circumstances, I would then have expected to have had discussions with my supervisor, Julian Knowles. (As of the time of writing this letter, by the way, I have heard absolutely nothing from Julian, and so have no idea as to whether he is even aware of the serious allegations that have been brought against me.)

~ 1 ~


In short, I really feel that I have been ‘bushwhacked’ – that I am the victim of a vendetta, being subjected to persecution (for inexplicable reasons) in a system that seems to be driven largely by indirect criticism (i.e. cowardly back-stabbing), assumed guilt, a total lack of trust, gossip, rumour, innuendo, paranoia, and fear.

3. Therefore, I assert that a denial of natural justice is taking place here, in that:

a) Within your memo, as stated above, complainants are never actually named;

b) The exact nature and content of their allegations is often not clearly articulated therein;

c) I have been denied the right to negotiate directly with any complainants in the first instance;

d) Because of the abovementioned points, it is questionable as to whether the complaints and my written response to them are able to be evaluated without bias. Indeed, I suspect that several of these allegations, to which I am responding ‘in the dark’ as it were, may be deliberately


4. I rebut initially any “serious concerns about the appropriateness of [my] modes of interaction particularly with students” by appending, as hard evidence, copies of:

a) My latest “Interim Performance Appraisal” (23.8.98), which is ‘satisfactory’ or better in all criteria, particularly Criterion 1 (“Demonstrated Competence in and Commitment to Teaching”).

b) A copy of a recent – and fairly typical – Student Feedback Questionnaire [SFQ] for my recent

Free Improvisation module in Performance 2, completed at the end of Week 4, Semester 2. (The originals of all such SFQs are available for your perusal upon request.) I now quote from this student’s document, below:

“[I] appreciated [the] lecturer’s enthusiasm, passion and ability to impart knowledge. Thanks


has a passion for this particular area, and was able to impart this in his teaching. I also really appreciated the sensitivity of the lecturer in ensuring, after playing and giving feedback, that it was known the feedback wasn’t personal. All attempts to make sure performers felt safe and unattacked were taken. [This was] excellent to see, particular[ly] in a totally new area such as this, where many people feel confronted to let go of traditional areas of form.”

I really appreciated the lecturer’s awareness when presenting this course – he obviously

5. I conclude by declaring that the summary of issues contained within your memo on the whole consists of nothing but a flimsy tissue of hearsay and innuendo – lacking in substance, honour, validity, and truth.

a) I am utterly appalled at what appears to be a recent full-scale persecutory smear campaign – a vendetta – mounted against me, by parties unknown, apparently impelled by the highly subjective impressions (or darker motivations?) of your communicants.

b) As a corollary, I am forcefully reminded that such false benighted ‘perceptions’ – as opposed to true enlightened ‘realities’ – are what ruled Europe during its Dark Ages, a perception- and superstition-driven period of great ignorance, during which a fearful, oppressive flat-Earth- centred world-view reigned supreme. Similarly (and rather more recently), it is a matter of historical record that the Nazis routinely consigned people to concentration camps – where they would almost certainly die – merely on the basis of 3rd-, 4th-, or nth-hand rumours and whisperings, vague ‘perceptions’, that these people had voiced some criticism of the Nazi regime! And then from the 1950s, one cannot forget the inquisition of, and the cruelty inflicted upon, thousands of innocent Americans at the hands of the McCarthyist thought-

police. I could go on and on

Is our own society ultimately returning to such barbarism?

Anyway, I shall now address – in as detailed a manner as possible – the five points in your memo, as well as your concluding remarks:

~ 2 ~

Point 1)

1. I absolutely reject the disgusting accusation that “some of [my] marking of students’ performances and concert duties shows signs of favouritism [which] allegedly reflects itself both in a willingness to overlook inadequate participation in duties in those students with whom [I] have a close relationship, and to be severe with marking those with whom [I] don’t”.

a) Indeed, and to the contrary, I pride myself on what I believe to be my very equitable and consistent treatment of all students, in which I am forever trying to balance ‘justice’ with ‘compassion’.

b) I therefore insist that the so-called ‘colleague(s)’ who have made this despicable allegation

provide hard evidence of my alleged “favouritism”

that they ‘put up or shut up’.

c) Meanwhile, here is my hard evidence to the contrary, in support of my assertion, a) above:

2. In relation to the assessment of students’ performances, my sole yardstick is, strictly, merit.

a) In fact, a perusal of (for example) the 1998 1st-year Concert Practice [CP] assessment sheets – all of which list the various adjudication criteria – will reveal that, almost without exception, my individual grading of each student’s performance correlates quite closely to those of the other Performance staff: wide divergences of grade between us are, actually, exceedingly rare!

b) Coincidentally, exactly the same thing can be said of a recent adjudication (4.9.98) of a 3rd- year “Radiophonic/Text Improvisation” module, in which Mitchell Hart’s and my percentage gradings, arrived at quite independently, were remarkably close.

c) (Just out of curiosity, Jim): In the light of the Performance staff’s demonstrable CP grading consistency, have Kim Poole and Diana Blom also been formally accused of “favouritism”?

3. Performance staff over the last two years have progressively fine-tuned a system of duties and penalties in regard to CP; these are detailed in the relevant course outlines and in the appended documents, pertaining to Performance 1 & 2 (the courses that I administrate).

a) In summary, any 1st-year students who, without reasonable excuse, do not properly or punctually fulfil their CP duty or who do not submit the required material on time, automatically lose 3 marks per offence (3 marks being 20% of the total of 15 marks per CP). This is not “severe”, merely consistent: it is meted out regardless of my ‘perceived relationship’ with that student.

b) In general, I do insist that all university students – as adults – take responsibility for, and accept the consequences of, their (in)actions.

c) For any lecturer to do and expect less than the points made in a) and b), I would regard as an irresponsible dereliction of duty, as something which transmits ambiguous messages to the student body as a whole, and which condones less-than-professional standards and behaviours.

d) I might also add that the penalties are rather more “severe” in 2nd- and 3rd-year CPs.

4. Moreover, on the Thursday prior to the round of 1st-year CPs, I convene an hour-long meeting of all the duty personnel, wherein:

a) their duties are carefully explained to them;

b) a hand-out is circulated {appended}, and the penalty system is outlined again;

c) in particular, the duty personnel are repeatedly cautioned that late attendance to their duty (i.e. turning up less than 60 minutes prior to the start of the CP) will result in an immediate loss of 3 marks.

d) This is rigorously and punctiliously enforced: indeed, I keep and maintain careful records in my files of all CP transgressions {appended}.

~ 3 ~

5. The “incident” alluded to in your memo’s point 1), Jim, requires elucidation; I surmise that the unnamed student in question is Ms Kristy Sullivan. Assuming that this is so, and being reliant solely upon my memory (not having ready access to my filing cabinet at present), Ms Sullivan was, I think, assigned the duty of Stage Manager for the CP scheduled for Thursday 27.8.98 at 2.30 pm. Now because of the Tokyo InterArts concert occurring on that same day, Kim Poole requested on the Thursday morning that I postpone the commencement of this CP until 3.00 pm. Of course, for obvious pragmatic reasons, I agreed. Given that:

a) I never wear a watch (not wishing to be a composerly slave to its beat);

b) The Music Department’s clock had stopped (I had, by the way, asked Ivanka Banach to have

it repaired as soon as possible, as I do rely on it to keep track of time);

c) Most staff and 1st-year students (compulsorily) attended the abovementioned concert, which concluded – I can only guess here, an important point – around (or just before?) 2.00 pm;

d) The relative lateness of Kim’s request ruled out any 100% reliable mechanism of informing students of the CP’s late start, apart from communication by word-of-mouth and my manual adjustment of the notice on the Performance noticeboard (which at that late stage probably would not have been read by students anyway);

e) Although I went to the Performance Space straight after the concert in order to take a roll of

CP duty personnel, I could not be absolutely certain of the time; I therefore decided, out of a sense of fairness, to give the duty personnel some leeway in regard to their punctuality. Nevertheless, I am now almost certain that Ms Sullivan did not turn up “for her duties within the advertised 60-90 minutes before [the] concert”; indeed, she was the very last of the duty personnel to arrive – despite the fact that, as the Stage Manager who oversees other duty personnel and runs the pre-concert sound-check etc., she should have been at the Performance Space first (as was pointed out to all four Stage Managers at the meeting of duty personnel that I convened the week before). Yet because of my less than 100% certainty of the time – even though I was pretty sure that she was late – I decided to deduct from Ms Sullivan’s overall result only 1 mark instead of 3. (Although I could have opted for no penalty, I did feel that a 1-mark penalty should accrue, because of Ms Sullivan’s lateness relative to the other duty personnel, who had less exalted functions.)

6. Incidentally, I also decided – out of the same sense of fairness and in particular recalling the above leniency – not to penalize Karen Irvine 3 marks for failing to provide the adjudicators (Kim Poole and myself) with a copy of her sheet music (3 marks being the specified penalty for this violation):

a) Although Ms Irvine was in fact the only 1st-year student in this latest round of CPs [CP 2.1] who had failed to comply with this instruction, her remissness was, however, clearly an

oversight, a momentary mental lapse on her part (possibly due to nervousness?), since I spotted the sheet music sticking out of her bag only moments after she began to sing – without the mnemonic aid of sheet music, by the way;

b) In short, Ms Irvine had in fact brought her sheet music to this CP, her intention obviously being to comply with my directives;

c) Halting her performance (which was, I reiterate, delivered from memory) in order for her to retrieve and pass the sheet music on to me, may very well have jeopardized her composure on stage; this would definitely have secured her her 3 marks – but potentially at a higher cost;

d) Moreover, such an action could well have been construed by some (petty-minded) students as

a form of favouritism – the very accusation I am seeking in this letter, painstakingly, to disprove;

e) I raise this incident here, Jim, because it is the only case of compassionate treatment I can think of that might have provoked your anonymous communicants – wrongly – to contend that I have “a willingness to overlook inadequate participation in duties in those students with whom [I] have a close relationship, and to be severe with marking those with whom [I] don’t”

– not that I have a particularly “close relationship” with Ms Irvine;

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f) In any case, my treatment of Ms Sullivan and Ms Irvine in relation to the CP penalty system, as discussed above, has (I trust you agree) at least been consistent, without bias or “favouritism”.

7. As for Ms Sullivan (or whoever it is) being “substantially penalised for a single spelling error in her programme notes”, this is quite ridiculous:

a) The actual penalty was in fact 1 mark – hardly “substantial”;

b) I am fairly certain that no 1st-year student who submitted, before the deadline, either an e- mail or a TeachText file of their programme note received a penalty of more than 1 mark in CP 2.1;

c) These 1-mark penalties were in fact not for “a single spelling error” – on those grounds alone, almost all of our students would be eternally penalized! – but for incorrectly formatting the text of the programme annotation {a printout of Ms Sullivan’s original programme note submission, a TeachText file, is appended};

d) NB: a ‘template’, demonstrating the correct approach in laying out the details of a programme note, is always provided within the relevant notice;

e) On closer inspection, however, a penalty of at least 2 marks is warranted here, because the content of Ms Sullivan’s annotation itself is of a very poor standard (e.g. failing to discuss the music, and not even naming her instrument). Moreover, in addition to several typographical(?) errors, she repeatedly mis-spells the (quite famous) French composer’s name, which is, surely, contained within (and upon the cover of) the sheet music! (I’m quite confident that my esteemed colleagues in Performance and Musicology would concur with these criticisms.)

8. Although, after a brief discussion a few days later with Kim Poole (who expressed his concern that Ms Sullivan would thereby fail this particular CP [i.e. she would, in the end, receive less than 7.5 marks out of 15]), it was agreed that the 2-mark penalty accrued by Ms Sullivan would be waived;

a) Out of fairness to all of the other 1st-year students who fully and indisputably complied with each CP instruction, and in the light of the scurrilous but baseless allegations of favouritism on my part, I must now not appear to ‘favour’ either Ms Sullivan or Ms Irvine, and so I must reluctantly insist that they both be penalized 3 marks – for all the reasons provided above.

b) So much for compassion, here defeated by a false accusation that demands absolute rigidity

Point 2)

1. This nebulous complaint is entirely without basis in fact: I do not engage in any “manner of criticism during concerts [presumably we are talking about CPs?]”. You yourself, Jim, have seen the Performance staff at work assessing various performances: you would have noted that there simply is not the time to comment verbally!

a) Indeed, during the CP concert itself, I am totally engaged in: observing and listening to each performance, following the score (if any) and writing comments; between items, I continue writing comments, I grade the performance, I prepare the next CP form, and, having completed the paperwork, I then signal the Stage Manager to settle the audience and announce the next act.

b) After the CP concert, I am totally preoccupied by my supervision of the bump-out of equipment and tidying-up of the Performance Space.

c) Immediately following that, I meet with the other assessor(s) to discuss students’ marks.

d) I repeat: no manner of criticism, other than written remarks, is made “during concerts”.

e) Students consult with Performance staff at some later date, during staff consultation times, to receive a critique of, and mark for, their CP performance.

~ 5 ~


The only verbal dialogue concerning a student’s CP performance – by no means a “criticism during concerts” – that I can recall being involved in with a student during CP 2.1, was with Wayne Bennett (who also had been assigned the duty of Technical Operator for one of the CP 2.1 concerts).

a) Wayne sang two items, the first of which was – in my opinion – a truly execrable art-music song (I described it as “maudlin drivel” in my written remarks), the second being the Red Hot

Chili Peppers’ song Aeroplane. (My opinion of Wayne’s – or indeed any other student’s – choice of repertoire has no bearing whatsoever on their final mark, by the way.)

b) Because of the radical dichotomy between these two pieces, Wayne’s intention appeared to me to be one of satire. Straight after Wayne had left the stage, in order for me to ascertain his intention so that I could elaborate there and then upon my brief written comments regarding his repertoire choice, I asked Wayne, very briefly but carefully, whether the motivation behind his juxtaposition of songs was one of intentional humour. He replied in the negative, stating that his teacher had merely recommended the first song to him. No further discussion took place at this time.

c) After one of the CP 2.1 concerts, while helping Wayne return equipment to Mitchell Hart’s office, I did discuss with Wayne the wisdom or otherwise of his using the word “fuck” in his printed programme note: was this merely for shock value? etc. {A printout of Wayne Bennett’s original programme note submission, an e-mail saved as a TeachText file, is appended.}

d) Unfortunately, while discussing this point, I unexpectedly encountered another group of 1st- year students (including Ms Sullivan). Suspecting that they had overheard me use the word “fuck” (in quoting Wayne Bennett’s programme note), and realizing that they would not have been able to automatically glean the context, I apologized to them, explaining that Wayne and

I were discussing the use of this taboo word in his printed programme annotation.

e) Anyway, I reiterate: no manner of criticism, other than written remarks, was made “during concerts”.

Point 3)

1. In regard to me “discussing lecturers’ private lives with students”:

a) Given that I (almost) never see colleagues on either a social or a professional basis outside of

working hours, and that I – and other staff members – realistically have no time during working hours for idle chit-chat concerning private matters, I therefore have virtually no knowledge of “lecturers’ private lives”;

b) Thus – besides being unwilling – I am indeed unable to discuss “lecturers’ private lives” with


c) On the odd occasion when a student tries to extract such information (or, worse still, tries to

elicit any rumours about staff members) from me, I do not dignify their requests with a reply, beyond declaring that I know nothing about colleagues’ personal lives, nor is it any of their business.

2. In regard to me “speaking of students in derogatory and sexist terms during drinking sessions [at the Swamp Bar]”:



consciously avoid speaking of students in “derogatory and sexist terms” (such as “stating

that a particular student is a ‘bitch’”), let alone in any discourse with students;


This accusation is very woolly: exactly what other “derogatory and sexist terms” – if any – am

I supposed to have spoken?;


I really do resent the expression “drinking session” here, which carries with it judgemental

and puritanical overtones, and implies that my sole reason for visiting the Swamp Bar is to

~ 6 ~

consume alcohol (which is, in any event, a legal beverage) in order to become inebriated; this

is probably libellous, and certainly untrue.

3. What precisely is meant by “the manner in which [I] fraternise with students at the Swamp Bar”, whereby “far from maintaining a sense of professional distance, [I] engage in terms of familiarity which reflect poorly on students and staff alike”? In regard to this “general concern”, allow me to make a few observations:


I am perplexed as to exactly what “terms of familiarity which reflect poorly on students and staff alike” I am purported to have engaged in;



should be noted that I only visit the Swamp Bar strictly after working hours (i.e. no earlier

than 5.00 pm);


My visits to the Swamp Bar are in fact relatively infrequent – no more than five or so occasions per semester – and are often at the request of music students who wish me to hear, and provide some feedback on, their public or (semi)professional performances in bands appearing at the Swamp Bar;


As supporting evidence of my relatively infrequent patronage of the Swamp Bar, I have found that, having worked back late (quite often beyond 7.00 pm), the Swamp Bar is usually closed;


Student or staff activities that take place after working hours are essentially private affairs;


Yet as a university educator, I am highly aware of, and sensitive to, the complex legal, ethical, moral, and political minefield of power, rights and responsibilities that arises in any interaction between lecturers and students. Nevertheless, as a university educator – remembering that the etymology of the word ‘educate’ is the Latin ex ducere: to ‘lead out [of ignorance]’ – I do regard every interaction with students (whether within working hours or not) as an opportunity to impart knowledge, to exchange ideas, to encourage, to personally care for, and to uplift them. This will ultimately have the effect of nurturing Australian culture and society – something about which I do care a great deal. And this surely is a time-honoured tertiary tradition! I, as an academic working professionally in a university, therefore regard the notion of maintaining a sense of “professional distance” as being potentially oxymoronic: in other words, excessive “distance [from one’s students]” may well negate “professional[ism]”. As such, I would now like to present two concrete, fruitful instances of my “fraternis[ing] with students at the Swamp Bar”:


Ian Pieterse (a talented saxophonist in 1st year) is now actively exploring the 1960s Avant- Garde jazz repertoire and extended techniques developed by musicians such as Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman, as a direct result of our discussions at the Swamp Bar; Ian has even

bought an Eric Dolphy CD that I recommended to him, entitled Out To Lunch!;


At the Swamp Bar, I have continued to encourage Jake Matthews (also a talented saxophonist in 1st year, and a member of one of my ensembles [the saxophone quartet]). Jake apparently

suffers from dyslexia, and so he undergoes major inherent difficulties in (sight)reading music,


situation which causes him considerable distress. He is persisting in this area, under my



By the way, as further evidence to refute the accusation of “favouritism” in your memo’s point 1), Jake was – regrettably – penalized 6 marks by me for failing to submit the required CP material on time without a valid excuse. Although, for administrative expediency, I did allow Jake to be assessed while performing with another group of students during CP 2.1 (rather than automatically relegating him to the already overcrowded ‘no frills’ CP), and

despite the fact that his performance I recall was quite good, Jake has actually failed CP 2.1 as

a direct consequence of his remissness.

~ 7 ~

Point 4)

1. You state, Jim, that “[f]rom a number of sources, reports have reached me concerning a discussion one night several weeks ago concerning feminist issues”. This statement is rather vague. When and where precisely was this? In fact, I have been involved in a number of discussions concerning “feminist issues” on various nights (and days), in various places and contexts (including the air-waves and print media), and with various people. Could not these “reports” refer to more than one such occasion?

2. So, “there is also general concern among students about the manner in which [I] have apparently expressed [my] viewpoint on the subject of feminism”. Again, I ask the same questions as those directly above. Furthermore:


I have only one manner of expressing a viewpoint, which I do adopt at all times: that is, to impart that viewpoint informedly and forthrightly, with maximal intelligence and clarity, always invoking my faculties of logic and reason.


That I actually succeed in this is, I believe, evinced by my collection of published writings, by my programme annotations to my original compositions, by my correspondence (e.g. e-mail), and by the sheer frequency with which I am invited to speak within the public domain (such as in radio interviews and broadcasts, at pre-concert talks, at conferences and at other fora, etc.).


If this generalized body of anonymous students has expressed concern, then perhaps it is due to their inability to follow my discourse? This is, of course, not a valid reason for formal complaint.


Or maybe they just find pure logic and reason – undeterred by prevailing dogmas and temporary intellectual fads – threatening? Again, this is not a valid reason for formal complaint.


Or could it be that they merely disagree with the viewpoint expressed? Yet again, this is not a valid reason for formal complaint.


Or perhaps, because they disagree, they have simply chosen to ‘be offended’ – to adjudge my “viewpoint” as being ‘offensive’? Even this, too, is not a valid reason for formal complaint (unless, of course, it is absolutely clear that the ‘offender’ has deliberately attempted to cause the ‘offendee’ distress – which is something I never do). One must recall here that ‘taking offence’ is merely an emotional declaration that another party has violated one’s own arbitrarily and subjectively defined sensibilities; this is, per se, always a choice – a decision – in mature, thinking, human adults (who are expected at all times to be in command of their emotions, in order that they can choose a ‘reason’-able mode of reaction to carry on dialogue). In addition, the point at which one claims that their sensibilities have been violated may well

be capriciously variable, being decided upon on the spur of the moment according to criteria that are logically irrelevant to the viewpoint expressed. Moreover, an ‘offending party’ does not ‘own’ (or have any control whatsoever over) anybody’s emotions but their own.


‘Taking offence’ is, furthermore, a well-known rhetorical tactic for ending a discussion or debate – usually when the ‘offendee’ is unable to refute the previous idea raised.


In which case, the true purpose behind ‘taking offence’ and declaring that one has been ‘personally affronted’ (thence whingeing about it officially) may well be nothing more than just an attempt to wield power, illegitimately and vexatiously, over the hapless ‘offender’.


So: I definitely smell a decaying rat here – and respond to this “general concern” in dismay at what is, I believe, an attempt at censorship and a direct threat to academic freedom.


Indeed (without lapsing too far into paranoia myself, one hopes), I conjecture that there could well be a vexatious motivation here, one of retribution, perhaps because of an incisive letter I

penned that was published in the Sunday Telegraph on 9.8.98 {copy appended}


which, moreover, several students referred to in informal discussions with me. I now quote

the original text of my letter, as forwarded to this newspaper:

~ 8 ~

“A young north-shore woman, despite a female magistrate finding the case proved, beats a drink-driving charge because ‘she was trying to escape from a group of men who had abused and harassed her’. The court declared that she was entitled to be ‘quite fearful’ and ‘frightened’ (Sunday Telegraph, August 2). Yet a young western-suburbs man in similar circumstances, who in fact had already been physically assaulted but fled further attack on his motorbike while intoxicated, is convicted. We already suspect that youth and the working class are treated unfairly by the law. It appears also that there is one law for women but another for men.” my point, of course, being simply that the young man in this sorry saga had been treated unjustly by the judiciary, relative to the young woman – a clear-cut case, if ever I saw one, of sexist discrimination against men.

3. In regard to the allegation that “upon hearing of graffiti in the women’s toilets near the Swamp

Bar, [I] decided to look at this graffiti for [my]self and announced [my] intention to do so” and that I then “left the table at which [I was] sitting with students and went in the general direction of the women’s toilets, returning a short time later”:

a) I reject this spurious and risible allegation outright – and deeply resent the innuendo that I might be some kind of pervert;

b) I know nothing about any graffiti in any women’s facilities at UWS Nepean (or anywhere else, for that matter), having never, throughout the post-infancy period of my life, entered any women’s toilet facility;

c) The men’s toilet near the Swamp Bar – to which of course I am permitted access – could be said to lie “in the general direction of the women’s toilets”; I have been known to use this particular facility from time to time in order to urinate;

d) I agree with you, Jim, that (unless there was some kind of emergency) “a male staff member entering a female students’ toilet can be perceived as a form of sexual harassment”. NB: all three toilets near the Swamp Bar are actually public facilities – they are not the sole preserve of students.

4. In relation to the above farce, Jim, you write in your memo that it is reported that “soon

“a new

piece of graffiti was found in the same women’s toilet, written at a height which would suggest that it was the work of a tall person, and in a script which allegedly resembles [my] handwriting:

‘FEMINISM = AN INSTITUTIONALISED EXCUSE FOR IRRESPONSIBILITY: A PHILOSOPHICAL CRUTCH FOR (FEMALE) FAILURES’”. This is fascinating stuff. However, though I do happen to agree wholeheartedly with this assertion:

a) It has nothing whatsoever to do with me. I repeat my declaration made in point 3.b), above.

b) The height at which any graffiti is written suggests absolutely nothing: I point out that, at UWS Nepean, there are numerous tall men (and quite a few tall women), who stand at least 2 metres in height; and what the heck, perhaps this piece of graffiti was written by a hermaphroditic dwarf standing on a chair!

c) Does a graffito written on a wall 1 metre from the ground automatically ‘suggest that it was the work of a short person’?

d) The quoted graffito is, arguably, quite an intelligent and articulate utterance. Being an intelligent and articulate person myself, is this reasonable grounds for suspicion that I am responsible for writing it?

e) The quoted graffito is spelt correctly (but see g) below): does this automatically divert


here, again, we have yet more imprecision, don’t we: when exactly?

suspicion away from the student body and onto academic staff?

[is written] in a script which

allegedly resembles my handwriting”, it is well known that I have a wide ambitus of handwritings, ranging from a scrawl that is illegible to anybody but me, through to an immaculately neat and clear calligraphy (as can be found in any of my recent scores). Indeed,

f) As regards the assertion that this “new piece of graffiti

~ 9 ~

a lot of handwriting could be said to resemble mine! I strongly suggest that, in an attempt to

besmirch my reputation, somebody has tried to imitate some aspect of my handwriting. And, moreover, are any of my accusers qualified experts in the rather inexact science of graphology?

g) As regards the text of the quoted graffito itself: I almost never write exclusively in capital letters; I would always spell the third word as “institutionalized” (because in such words, I regard ‘z’ as being phonetically more accurate than the currently fashionable ‘s’); the colon is, ’

’) which I

– is by no

to my mind, incorrect punctuation (i.e. the second idea – ‘a philosophical crutch means clearly a logical consequence of the first idea – ‘an institutionalised excuse

would replace with a semicolon instead (reflecting the expression of two separate ideas).

h) If – purely for the sake of argument – I had decided to write some graffiti somewhere (not that

I have), I would write it using deliberately incorrect spelling, in a straightforward idiolect,

with an unusual handwriting, at an average height, and definitely without witnesses precisely to avoid the sort of repugnant trial and pathetic accusations to which I am now being subjected!

5. In regard to point 4. above, there is a graffito in the men’s toilet at the Swamp Bar which is almost identical to that quoted above; it, too, was not written by me. (Perhaps my accusers are somewhat befuddled, and are actually referring to this graffito?) However, on the very same wall

in this men’s toilet, there are a couple of graffiti almost certainly written by participants of the 1998 NOWSA conference, held recently at our campus.

a) By definition, such culprits would be women.

b) Many male music students have expressed their indignation to me about this graffiti, and about the invasion of male space by women.

c) Indeed, I do believe that any woman entering a male toilet under most circumstances “can be perceived as a form of sexual harassment”.

d) therefore insist that this incident be reported to the Equal Opportunity Unit, as any form of sexual harassment or misandrony is unacceptable in a university environment, and in civilized society at large.

It is a fact that there is yet another piece of

graffiti on the same wall in this men’s toilet, written with a red texta, and signed “F” (as in “Franklin”, with a circle around the “F”). Its quite mild and reasonable tone, the fact that it is written at an average height and in a handwriting that strongly resembles yours – not to mention the circled “F” – makes you a prime suspect, Jim. The fact that it does contain a few spelling errors might allay suspicion for some people, but I’m not convinced. (From now on, mate, I’ll be keeping my eye on you!)

e) (My tongue is now firmly in my cheek, Jim



6. Enough frivolity. Seriously, Jim, the originators of the set of accusations against me expressed in point 4) of your memo are – it is very reasonable to assume (given the nature of the complaint) – women, and quite probably they are women who are sympathetic to feminist ideology. Given all of the points I have raised above, and if my surmising proves to be correct, then I have very grave concerns regarding these females’ basic inability to engage in straightforward deductive reasoning, and I have very grave concerns regarding their twisted ethical standards and lack of rectitude in launching a formal complaint against me without hard evidence, purely on the basis of rumour and hearsay. In short, it is totally pathetic, repugnant, and hysterical. Is this the sort of thing that feminism has in store for men in the next millennium?

Point 5)

1. The facts are these:

a) At the beginning of Semester 2, in speaking to Kim Poole, I had generously offered to help

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him adjudicate a CP on the evening of Friday 28.8.98. This actually fell outside of my regular working hours (which conclude at 5.00 pm), and was also supplemental to my workload as a 0.5 Lecturer (having already adjudicated 4 out of a total of 8 CPs covering all three years of Performance subjects).

b) The motivations behind my offer were honourable, being simply: a desire to assist Kim, who I believe to be quite seriously overworked; a desire to save SoCA money (by avoiding further employment of casual staff); and sheer curiosity (as a woodwind specialist, I wanted to see and hear Christine Mitchell’s performance on flute, in particular).

c) Kim and I had been overseeing and adjudicating CP 2.1 concerts all day long. At around 6.00 pm – i.e. well outside of my normal working hours – I asked Kim whether he needed a hand in organizing the evening CP, scheduled to start at 6.30 pm. He declared that everything was fine and my assistance would not be required, so I then told him that I was going down to the Swamp Bar for a quiet drink – in order to relax a little after a very gruelling day – and, more urgently, to eat some food (having eaten little all day). I also asked Kim to inform me when the CP was about to commence: this is perfectly normal procedure amongst Performance staff, as CP concerts rarely begin right on time.

2. So yes, I was indeed “fetched from the bar [actually from the bistro area outside the bar], where I had been drinking, by a staff member [Kim Poole] before the concert”. A couple of observations at this point seem necessary:

a) My after-hours presence in the Swamp Bar area from 6.00 pm to 6.30 pm in and of itself is surely not problematic. Indeed, my main reason for being there was to consume food, other facilities being closed by this time.

b) Alcohol is, after all, a legal substance and – for the record – I had, by 6.30 pm, consumed less than one small bottle of Hahn Premium beer. Because the bar was due to close fairly soon, I had in fact bought two bottles together. (In other words, by the time Kim had signalled me to come to the Performance Space, I had in my possession one full bottle of beer and another, less than half-full, bottle of beer.)

c) Again, as before, I detect a somewhat puritanical undertone in the reference to my “drinking”, with its insinuation of wilful insobriety: again, as before, I resent this; and as a matter of fact, I was unaffected by the small amount of beer I had consumed.

3. Now because of my desire not to delay the CP proceedings at all, and because (knowing that Kim had all of his gear with him) I believed that Security had already locked up and turned on the alarm to the downstairs area of the Music Department (so that I could not readily leave my two beer bottles in my office), I went directly to the Performance Space carrying the two beer

bottles. (Due to my ‘Celtic frugality’, and costing $3.30 each, I simply could not bring myself to pour them out as waste!) So it is perfectly true that “when [I] came to the concert, [I] brought [my] beer with me”. From this point on, however, there is the usual story of guilt-by-perception:

a) The fact remains that nobody knew for certain what beverage the beer bottles contained. They may well have held ice tea!

b) Conversely, would a report have been made to you, Jim, if I had brought into the Performance

even though Coca-Cola does contain

Space two Coca-Cola bottles? (I very much doubt it large quantities of that pernicious drug caffeine.)

4. As to the assertion that I “continued to drink [beer] during the concert which [I was] supposed to be adjudicating”:

a) I emphatically was adjudicating the concert; there is no “supposed” about it! And, moreover, it does not logically follow that “continu[ing] to drink [some beverage] during the concert” simultaneously precludes the act of (competent) concert adjudication.

b) In fact, I only polished off the over-half-empty bottle of beer between CP items and after I had completed my written comments – not while actually examining the three students

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concerned. (The other full beer bottle I consumed later.)

c) At the time, I received absolutely no comment or censure from Kim Poole (who is the acting coordinator of Performance, and so is – I guess – technically my superior), or from anybody else present for that matter, about the offending beer bottles. Had any such comments been made, or had I even detected ‘raised eyebrows’ (particularly from students), I would naturally have immediately removed those heinous beer bottles.

d) On the subject of my ‘competent concert adjudication’, as stated above: “I was unaffected by the small amount of beer I had consumed”. As hard evidence of this, I append copies of my CP adjudication sheets for this unusually brief concert which are, indeed, absolutely competent and include (as I recall) some quite detailed and perspicacious remarks on, for example, Christine Mitchell’s potential use of flute harmonics.

e) Therefore, Jim, I don’t entirely agree with you that consuming a beverage (alcoholic or not) necessarily “reflects negatively on the seriousness with which [I] approached the adjudication of the concert”. And anyhow, I never show “a disdain for the students” – directly or by implication – which, I do agree, would be “unacceptable in an academic staff member”.

5. In regard to your final comment, Jim, that “[a]dditionally, as [I] well know, eating and drinking in any form is not permitted in the Performance Space, and [my] doing so undermines the example we need to set to students”, I’m afraid that this is by no means clear:

a) Whilst such a policy is entirely understandable for rooms such as the Sound Studios and the Multimedia Lab, which contain much expensive electrical equipment that could easily be ruined by a spillage of drink or food, the Performance Space seems to me to be on a par in this regard with the downstairs Lecture Room, where both staff and students consume food.

b) Is there a sign posted anywhere actually forbidding the consumption of food and drink in the Performance Space? (I do recall seeing such signs pertaining to the Sound Studios etc., but my visual memory of the Performance Space area is rather hazy. Nevertheless, I am certain that there is no such sign on the Performance Space doors.)

c) Moreover, on several previous occasions, there have been formal functions (such as prize- giving nights) held in the Performance Space. Such occasions – which have been attended by academic staff, music students, guests and dignitaries – have involved the consumption of

food and beverages, including several varieties of alcoholic drink. (Indeed, the staff refrigerator still contains some leftovers from one of these functions, namely a wine-cask.)

d) “[T]he example [I believe] we need to set to students” in relation to eating and drinking in the Performance Space, is one of careful consumption and of the proper disposal of rubbish and recyclables. As somebody who (together with Kim Poole) is forever removing aluminium cans, plastic bottles, bits of paper, food scraps, and other items of garbage from the

we are setting good examples, but ‘some students ain’t

Performance Space, all I can say is listening’!

6. This whole affair, Jim, seems to me to be a classical example of ‘making mountains out of molehills’. Notwithstanding, I do appreciate your concerns here, and will respect your wishes henceforth by never again bringing food or drink to any CP adjudication.

Concluding Remarks

1. I entirely agree with you, Jim, and do understand that “[u]nder the terms of operation of [this] University, discriminatory and unprofessional behaviour is unacceptable”, and that “[i]n a staff member, such behaviour is a negation of our charter to nurture the development of our students, and to present positive role models to which students can aspire”. Indeed, the upholding of such a healthy philosophy is part of my job statement, and I am always mindful of, and actually putting into practice, these tenets:

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a) As far as “positive role models” go, I obviously do provide this for all of our music students – in relation to my high-level activities as a professional musician (composer and performer).

b) Moreover, I do believe that, as a forthright, intelligent, enthusiastic, intrepid yet compassionate male educator, it is crucial that I provide mentorship, and display a fine example of leadership, to young adult men – who, I think you will agree, are generally floundering in many ways in modern Australian society. On numerous occasions, for instance, in discussions at venues such as the Swamp Bar, male students seem to have used me as a ‘listening post’ or ‘sympathetic ear’ as it were, in pouring out their frustrations, their feelings of loss of identity, their fears concerning unemployment, their confusion in regard to healthy relationships and masculinities, and their anger at the obvious oppressions and injustices perpetrated against men by contemporary society in general under the baleful influence of feminism (of which, I might add, my current situation is a shining example). Their concerns are not by any means to be flippantly dismissed – particularly in the light of the alarming rate of teenage male suicide in Australia these days.

c) Please understand, Jim, that I am equally sympathetic to the plight of women. Indeed, on many occasions, I have ‘picked up the pieces’ when a female student has become upset – one example being Nicole Christoph. So, there is absolutely no discrimination on my part. Indeed, as someone who upholds, and tries to put into practice, the Christian faith with everybody, I extol an approach that is characterized by love and compassion, that transcends ‘laws’ and petty ‘differences’. (In passing, I do believe that this philosophy is, paradoxically, becoming increasingly difficult to enact in large, impersonal bureaucracies that are overburdened by rules and regulations which ‘kill the spirit’ and lead to a kind of rigid, stultifying paralysis.)

2. If you are correct, Jim, in sensing that “at present, the morale of our student body is suffering” then I strongly contend that this is not “as a result of some aspects of [my] behaviour and attitudes” – except, perhaps, for my well-known expectation that students simply do what is asked of them within the time-frame allowed (as part of my long-term goal, that they grow intellectually, acquiring knowledge and learning to engage in active, independent, critical thought).

a) I have encountered more than a few students over the years (but by no means a majority) who have become quite frustrated at my refusal – in the absence of a reasonable excuse – to allow them to evade their responsibilities and the consequences of their (in)actions. Indeed, I do draw very unambiguous boundaries here: students are all clearly informed of what I expect of them, when I expect it, and the penalties they can expect should they be remiss.

b) I am surely being a “positive role model” in this, by inculcating, in students who truly wish to learn, the professional attitudes and competencies demanded by the music industry – which of course tolerates no less.

c) I also believe that one purpose of a tertiary education is to build character. In this, you may call me somewhat old-fashioned, but character-building is a necessary process for those who wish to become thinkers, who wish to become researchers, and – ultimately – who wish to become intellectually self-sufficient. A university therefore should not just be about ‘competency training’, or ‘filling heads with knowledge’; this is just a first step, fulfilling a function already provided to some extent by the secondary education and TAFE systems. We, as university educators, need to provide students with tools so that they can think for themselves! (Now isn’t that a dangerous idea: ‘independence of thought’ in an image-driven society that expects mindless conformity. It is no wonder that successive governments in this country and the media continue to persecute the university system, because what politician, bureaucrat, or media-mogul really wants a thinking constituency?) So, a university is, to my mind, a milieu of ideas, of truth, and of clashing paradigms – a continuum for an intellectual journey through which each one of us tries to make sense of it all and find meaning

d) Anyway, perhaps it is just that small minority of students who are content to wallow in their comfort zone of lazy, unthinking mediocrity – something I absolutely abhor and will not

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is suffering”. Perhaps they are also exercising a smear campaign

against me – a campaign of persecution – in order that I be made to ‘back off’, and not be allowed to try to ‘educate’ them. After all, any ‘birth’, particularly one out of ‘ignorance’ into ‘excellence’ and ‘enlightenment’, can be uncomfortable

e) While we are on the subject of “morale”, Jim, I can honestly assure you that throughout the whole dreary experience of writing this interminable letter of response, my “morale” has suffered enormously. In addressing detailedly what is, frankly, (and do please forgive my candour here) a stinking pile of bullshit, three days of my life have been totally wasted in drudgery; they were, as you well know, to have been spent on the creative activity of original composition and PhD studies.

f) Moreover, I am sure you are aware that I had endured, until the end of 1997, two years of this kind of back-stabbing persecution-by-hearsay. By way of contrast Jim, under your excellent leadership, the thoroughly positive experiences I have enjoyed working in SoCA’s Music Department at UWS Nepean during the first half of 1998 seemed to indicate that the previous era of victimization was at last over. (But alas, not )

g) I also want you to know, Jim, that I do feel for you too, in having your time wasted and life consumed in having to deal with all of this.

h) And what of the “morale” of our colleagues Jim? We are all, I think you would agree:

overworked; fearful for the future of Australia’s university system and UWS Nepean in particular (in the face of shrinking public and private funds); worried about the implications of a too-cosy relationship between universities and big business; dismayed by the erosion of academic job security; disheartened by the increasing contempt with which the concepts of ‘research’, ‘creativity’, and ‘intellectual freedom’ are held by bureaucrats and bean-counting administrators; pessimistic about the ‘dumbing down’ of this country; oppressed by excessive regulations and administrative burdens and paperwork; and – most of all – discouraged by the lassitude of, and sheer disrespect exhibited towards us by, certain students. Sometimes, I wonder why we bother

tolerate – whose “morale

3. Regarding your final observation, Jim, that “[t]he question here is not so much whether [I] should or should not hold certain attitudes and [my] own opinions; rather, the concern is with appropriateness of the mode in which [I] express [my] attitudes and opinions, especially in [my] interactions with students”, I have dealt with this exhaustively elsewhere in – and throughout – this letter.

To conclude (at last!). In providing ample hard evidence, I feel quite confident that I have thoroughly demolished the concerns voiced about my purported “severe lack of professionalism indicative of a discriminatory attitude on [my] part”, etc. I trust that this letter and the appended material will succeed in vindicating my name, and so will immediately lay to rest the foul web of accusations against me, once and for all – in the process serving “to boost the flagging student morale”. Then, perhaps, we can all get on with our lives

I do look forward to meeting with you in the very near future, Jim.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Shanahan, Lecturer in Performance & Composition, SoCA/Music 8 September, 1998.

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