Chattel in a chain of imposed and remotely determined obligations

Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Branch – Academic Staff

National Councillor (Academic Staff)
Candidates First Preference Votes

NORMA Caroline   205      76.8%
KATES Steven         62       23.2%

I ran for the RMIT academic staff representative on the NTEU National Council and ended up with a quarter of the vote. So in this small way I have shown that the tertiary system is not yet totally beyond redemption. This was my campaign platform.

The heart and soul of a university are its academics.

Universities are now large, bureaucratic organisations who in many ways think of themselves as a business while still retaining the sentiments of our ancient academic traditions. My aim in joining the Council will be to act as a perpetual reminder to the university on why universities exist and the crucial role that the academics in our tertiary institutions play.

The top-down structure that now affects what we do and how we do it is taking much of the vitality out of our universities and is shaping our roles to suit the purposes of an efficient, profit-maximising organisation. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a university in trying to remain solvent. Paying its bills is what it must do.

But paying its bills is not what a university is for. A university is to carry the values of our common humanity forward by building on the hard-won knowledge of the past while contributing what we can ourselves in our hope to shape the future.

My own specialty area is in the History of Economic Thought, a very unfashionable part of the academic world. Yet it is in the overlap between history and economics that the ancient meets the modern, and indeed reaches out into the future.

Although my early career was as an academic, I have only been a senior academic for the past thirteen years, having spent most of my career in the private sector, and interestingly working in industrial relations. I know the IR system well and understand its crucial importance in maintaining the dignity of work in the face of employers who often do not.

Since returning to the academic world, I have published ten books, including a children’s book, Economics for Infants, and many papers.

With me elected to the Council as your academic representative, you will have someone in place who truly cares about your place in the scheme of things, and will not allow our position as mere chattel in a chain of imposed and remotely determined obligations to continue.

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