The Fitz Files
Illustration: Reg Lynch
An interesting and briefly explosive issue rose at University College, London, in March, when at a debate hosted on its premises by an Islamic group - Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense? - men and women were separated. Professor Richard Dawkins was one who took an extremely dim view, calling it ''sexual apartheid''. He tweeted, ''Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? At UCL of all places …'' His obvious point was that at a place of enlightenment, enforcing separation of men and women because of religious views was not on. Which brings us to Sydney Uni, where something remarkably similar has taken place. Last Tuesday week, at the Footbridge Theatre, the Sydney University Muslim Students' Association hosted a debate where, again, the audience was segregated by gender. Step into the next item to see one consequence of interest.
One appalled at the ''sexual apartheid'', was Tracy Burgess, editor of The Australian Atheist magazine, and she wrote to university vice-chancellor Dr Michael Spence.
''It is a sad day indeed to find myself in a situation where in the university I have always held so dear, I would be directed that parts of a building's seating arrangements were off limits to me based solely upon my gender … If I was to attend a mosque for whatever purpose, I would expect to be treated differently because I am equipped with a vagina. I do not expect that situation to arise though in a setting of higher learning with the ideals that can usually be ascribed to such an institution.''
Spence quickly and politely replied, correctly pointing out the University of Sydney Union was responsible for booking venues such as Wallace Theatre and it ''has taken specific advice from the Anti-Discrimination Board on this issue … that segregation did not in itself represent discrimination, particularly given there was no preferential treatment involved. Further, the advice suggested that this represented a cultural matter that required sensitive understanding.'' For me, the matter is complicated by the fact I am running for re-election for the Senate of Sydney University - with Jane Spring, Verity Firth, Bruce McWilliam and Peter King - but I am firmly on the side of Tracy Burgess. Fire at will.
The new photo byline? TFF is an ambassador for CanTeen - a charity that provides support for young people living with cancer. Their National Bandanna Day is next Friday. Visit canteen.org.au.
The big draw
Bravo. Many distinguished artists, including Wendy Sharpe and Euan Macleod, have painted creative interpretations of Australia's best loved children's books and - in a fund-raising exercise for the Sydney Story Factory, devoted to lifting indigenous literacy in the inner city - they will be auctioned at Danks Street Depot, Waterloo, for three days, from Wednesday. The exhibition and silent auction will include a Brett Whiteley print and two Tim Storrier etchings. See sydneystoryfactory.org.au.
Joke of the week
We had a power outage last week and my PC, TV and iPad were shut down. Plus, it was raining, so I couldn't golf. Therefore, I talked to my wife for a few hours. She seems like a nice person.
They said it ...
Basically, politicians want more pay ... the public outcry stops that. So instead they get a lot of entitlements ...
Professor Allan Fels – who helped to compile the Belcher review – sums it up.
I could steal your 20 bucks and your second-hand Commodore and you'd go to the cops. Or I can torture a drug dealer and he'll hand over six grand and never say a word. You do the maths.
Mark ''Chopper'' Read, who died on Wednesday of liver cancer, on why he specialised in attacking fellow gangsters.
Ned Kelly does not at all look like a murderer and bushranger ...
From a letter by Scottish immigrant Donald Sutherland, who went to watch the Glenrowan siege, to his parents in Scotland. The letter stayed in the family until it was given to the State Library of Victoria recently.