STOP PRESS: Dr Weber heads out revolving door at USP Journalism, citing favouritism, lack of consultation, unethical pressure on him - his former predecessor Shailendra Singh in line of fire over study leave!
"The main cause of my concern emerged when the former head of the department Shailendra Singh decided just 2 weeks before semester to apply (and be granted)
"Hi everyone ... this will be the one and only statement regarding my reasons for resigning. As I'm sure you are aware, this was not an easy decision for me. I have always said the most important people at university are the students, and they will remain so but a series of decisions by various USP staff over the past month indicate to me that I was no longer in charge of the journalism department and therefore the duty of care to my students.
The main cause of my concern emerged when the former head of the department Shailendra Singh decided just 2 weeks before semester to apply (and be granted) 6 months more leave to complete his PhD. I have no issues with that application, but he had stated that he would return and all planning for the department for the semester was based on that. Without any consultation with the department as to how we would cope with this sudden about face, he was granted leave under the direction of HR.
This was not the first time that no consultation was undertaken with the specialist broadcasting lecturing position in the department taken out the budget for 2014 without discussing the implications of how we would teach radio or television this year ... the expectation was that I would cover those courses (this is not my area of expertise) including mine - teaching 5 courses again, as I had done for the past year.
I refused to do this given the lack of consultation regarding this issue. I set about finding someone but had to then go home to Australia to look after my sick mother. In the meantime, SLAM HoS had hired a person out of Australia without any consultation with me or Semi Francis ... The hire is a creative writer with no journalism degrees or media studies degrees but write on long-form journalism, which we do not teach in the department ... I complained and was told the decision had been made.
How will this help our students who need a radio lecturer this semester? The student simply did not want to complete the course and his mother, who is a USP Senior Lecturer, set about pressuring me to approve the waiver ... I refused and challenged her ethics on this matter - how can you be objective as a mother and a lecturer.
This is an example of favouritism that was prevalent under Shailendra Singh's watch as the programme's head. I have received numerous requests over the past year from students who have not completed any first year courses, but were waived through by Shailendra, to undertake second year courses.
This comes at a time when the industry is demanding why USP students are not well trained. The Senior Lecturer then applied directly to Yeates for the waiver which was approved on the grounds he was a third year graduating student, but he is not because he had not completed second year.
So in overturning my decision without any consultation, once again, USP has placed the programme and the university in a difficult situation because now all students will apply for waivers for courses they don't want to complete ... setting a dangerous precedent for the quality of journalism training in the Pacific Islands.
I based my decision on the integrity of a professional educator who had made this decision consistently and to policy over the past year ... no matter what decision I made from now on would have been overturned without consultation or due consideration to other students who have to complete their degree programme set down by the university.
Is this fair or ethical? Well make what you will of it. I simply could no longer live with others making decisions on a programme that we rebuilt and was working towards its goals.
I believe I leave USP with my integrity and professionalism still intact ... but questions need to be asked of a number of people who have contributed to this situation without any consideration for the programme, its staff and especially its students. Yes there is much more to this ... questions I cannot answer because when I challenged these decisions I was told ...decision has been done, you have to live with it It's a shame ... We have brilliant first years come through and sensational second years Imagine what we could have done with no one interfering and undermining what we had achieved" "
Fijileaks Editor: We are waiting for a comment from Singh.