Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas misled students, says Massey University Students' Association president

Massey University Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas misled students over the cancellation of the Don Brash speaking event and the student association has no confidence in her ability to do the job.

Student association president Ngahuia Kirton says her biggest concern to come out of the issue was threats to restrict funding to the association.

"As a whole, students seem to have been misled and I don’t think that their views were properly taken into consideration by the senior leadership team," she told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

"MUSA’s position is very clear, we have no confidence in the vice chancellor’s ability to discharge her duties, so I would hope that the university council would take that into consideration," she said.

Documents obtained yesterday under the Official Information Act contain correspondence to and from Ms Thomas in the run-up to the cancellation.

In one email on 9 July, the vice-chancellor said she did not want a "te tiriti led university to be seen to be endorsing racist behaviours".

A day later, she emailed to say she would like to know the options for banning the politics club from holding events on campus.

She said the "racist behaviour of Dr Brash - given te reo is an official language of NZ and we are a tiriti-led university - can't be ignored".

Ms Kirton said the vice chancellor’s concerns that Mr Brash’s views didn’t align with the values of the university were valid but students were still misled.

"I think her concerns were more around the fact that Massey University is a teriti-led and her views that Don Brash’s views didn’t align with that is completely valid."

"I’m more concerned about the way she handled the communication and the events that happened afterwards."

"Personally, I don’t agree with Don Brash’s views, and I think many people at the student association also do not agree with them, however I do think university as the critic and conscience of society is a great place to have those healthy debates and these difficult conversations."

Ms Kirton says her biggest concern to come out of the issue was threats to restrict funding to the association.

"The cancellation of the Don Brash events aside, the student association’s biggest concern is actually the threats to restrict funding to student associations to manage backlash."

President Ngahuia Kirton says the student association has no confidence in Jan Thomas’s ability to perform her duties. Source: Breakfast

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