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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 8. 1967.

Brookes - Hall clash over Asian Studies

Brookes - Hall clash over Asian Studies

Mr. W. J. Hall, o senior lecturer in Asian Studies, criticises the phasing out of Asian Studies as a separate subject on Pll of this issue. Here Professor Brookes replies to Mr. Hall's letter.

Sirs,—I, too, favour the right to know. Where better to start than of W. J. Hall's letter on p. 11? (Please read it before considering the following comments.)

1. The Numbers Game. A quick check reveals over 190 undergraduate enrolments and about 30 Honours enrolments this year in courses taught by Asian Studies staff, using Asian material. (They also do a limited amount of teaching on non-Asian topics.)

It is not possible, at short notice, to say how many students are covered by these enrolments; doubtless fewer, since some will be taking more than one such course; but W. J. Hall's figures are ridiculous. Indeed, he seems to have some difficulty with numbers: in calculating a percentage from his own fanciful statistics he has misplaced the decimal point. Since the enrolments have increased, we need waste no time on W. J. Hall's "principle" causes designed to explain a reduction.

2. Strangling Asian Studies? Whatever may be happening in W. J. Hall's fantasy world, at Vuw Asian Studies are being expanded. The present enrolments are only a beginning. They will increase for current courses, as their existence and quality become better known. The present staff (three of whom are new) will offer additional courses when they are fully settled in. And the policy for expansion laid down by the Deans' Committee provides (as W. J. Hall well knows) for additional appointments in the near future. The recent report of the Asian Studies Committee on future policy (which W. J. Hall calls the Brookes-Janaki Report) does not claim that the existing programme covers a substantial proportion of all students; it reaffirms the objective of attracting a substantial proportion of undergraduates in relevant faculties. That objective we shall achieve.

3. The Vulpine Committee. The so-called Brookes-Janaki Report was not devised by Brookes-Janaki, nor even by the Asian Studies Committee (which made only minor amendments to the draft). It emerged from discussions held among Asian Studies staff, as W. J. Hall well knows, since he took part in those discussions. The future policy on Asian Studies has been worked out by those who teach the subject, not by marauding departmental heads. It has been confirmed by the Asian Studies Committee and the Professorial Board.

4. Abolishing Asian Studies III? Since W. J. Hall participated in the staff discussions, he knows very well that the decision taken was to retain the Stage III unit, recognising however that its content may need to change to avoid overlap with departmental courses. Since he knows this, his claim that the unit is to be abolished with effect from next year is a crude and mischievous method of soliciting support.

5. The Sacrifice. W. J. Hall's talk about sacrificing his academic career in New Zealand might suggest to the unwary reader that he was resigning from his position on principle. In fact, he has a temporary appointment which expires at the end of the year. Presumably he means that when the vacancy is advertised he will not apply. He is, of course, entitled to do so, but no one is forcing him to.

6. The Right To Know Council. It seems that W. J. Hall wants company. That is not surprising: it must be lonely when everyone else is out of step. But supporters of Asian Studies might be more willing to rally to his tocsin were it not so obviously cracked.

R. H. Brookes
Professor of Political Science.