Your alternative uni O week guide

The University of Qld’s orientation week is coming up just around the corner and new students are about to be initiated into the mysteries of learning – or are they? 33 years ago this year we posted up at UQ an alternative O week guide. This was in conjunction to a related legal action to have UQ’s charter revoked because it would not (as well as could not) defend a particular charge for systematic ‘failure of relevance’. In relation to our recent related post [go to] about the questionable future role of universities, it perhaps still is just as pertinent today as several decades ago… and to other universities as well as UQ?

Warning to all new students: Beware, lest your good sense perish here, for you enter this place at your own risk (and how!). The University of Queensland (admin) claims it: (a) provides quality education, (b) pursues truth (advancing human knowledge), and (c ) serves society . . Yet, we who know better would have you understand how it: (a) is primarily interested in selling ‘credentials’ which are often intrinsically worthless and useless, (b) tends to promote or cultivate conformity, ignorance, and self-indulgence, and (c ) mainly serves to legitimize accountability ‘cop outs’ (and bad govt policies) across society globally.

TO those victims of the grand fraud being perpetuated undercover of the illusions of qualification and respectability: You have been deceived about the real purpose of your coming here and about the true function of knowledge. Coming to university is not (anymore) an initiation into real learning but a conversion into a false security and realities – that is, into often excluding and specialised clubs of self-interest or vested interests with their perpetually-frustrating substitute satisfactions for authentic knowing and doing. Thus, getting a university degree tends to (a) contradict not support any genuine recognition of intelligence and/or wisdom, and (b) fail to provide truly legitimate authorisation to practice knowledge in any genuinely universal sense.

YOU are going to find yourself in a double-bind situation which sees some of the most creative and original people around you drop out prematurely in their first year especially – disillusioned not only about the higher education system but sadly of their own potential to realise the power that real knowledge inspires. You will also find that many of the ‘intellectuals’ practicing here are more gatekeepers against (than promoters for) you becoming here an effective thinker, innovator, and resilient lifelong learner. Pretending to be the High Priests of the secrets of knowledge, the aim of this half of the university – to exploit your confidence – is conditional on your tacit complicity in the process of anaesthetising your awareness, so to render you helpless while they go about their real business to: (a) penetrate or violate your natural integrity, and (b) condition or convert you into being a passive conformist like themselves. The other half (if naive, then wilfully so… and if ‘forced’ to, then is that an excuse?) are often sleepworking and/or just trying to ‘survive’ – but do include some who are the ‘real deal’ and genuinely inspirational guides to deep learning and authentic knowledge-building. You see, the modern university is an institution which has increasingly come to frustrate authentic learning, to sabotage the innate creativity of every individual, and to sabotage natural processes of thinking and knowing. It represents a credentialist conspiracy of not only ‘gatekeeping’ vested interests of human knowledge, but the social, economic and political ‘status quo’ (i.e. ‘the game’ you are expected to play at your own expense). [Be aware that cycnicism is not just a self-fulfilling prophecy but a potentially criminal disposition].

SO BE WARNED. If you stay here long enough to come out of the degree-process then if you just ‘go through the motions’ of learning as a mere ‘spoon-feeding’ and/or ‘regurgitation’ process, you can leave at the end having really learnt nothing of any intrinsic value or relevance. That is, at least try to actively engage, question and think whilst you ‘participate’ in the course lectures, tutorials, assignments and/or exams of any subject or course undertaken – even if you have to disguise this and pretend that you are ‘asleep’ and the normal passive learner. In short, if you really want to, you can beat the gatekeepers at their own game. Without sacrificing your faith, enthusiasm, and searching you can do this by projecting an absolutely ruthless but open-minded and inquiring ‘skepticism’ by which you must place yourself before instead of above the data of knowledge to be “acquired” – so that you must literally under-stand it and not simply reflect or transcend it.

Let’s hear what the head of this uni has to say about its purposes: “What is the role of universities in the future of Australia?…we must maintain the liberal education which is at the heart of a civilised society. The University has a fundamental obligation in the evaluation and transmission of knowledge and the preservation and enhancement of the values that are characteristic of the progress of civilisation itself” [Brian Wilson, V-C, UQ NEWS, August 22, 1984]. Prof. Wilson is directly responsible for the institutionalised bad faith as well as general refusal and not just failure of relevance shown in events which are the focus of a current legal action we have taken against UQ in the Supreme Court. This action seeks to have UQ’s charter as a university revoked if it continues to fail, to misrepresent, and to effectively lie and deceive about practicing relevance in knowledge along the lines advertised above (i.e. to provide quality education, to pursue truth and genuinely advance knowledge, and to serve society) – and if representatives like Brian Wilson just continue to wilfully peddle ‘empty rhetoric’ without any real accountability. For such concerns are the responsibility of the university. Maybe new students might begin by understanding this to be the true purpose of their education?
– Cameron Richards, ‘open letter’ poster distributed to and at UQ, 1985.


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