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Little optimism amid the devastation at the School of Music

Date

To use the term ''voluntary'' redundancy when referring to the ANU School of Music is to give a false impression of the situation that performance staff are facing (''ANU staff fear gag over cuts to music'', August 10, p3). The staff who have taken a redundancy package have done so not because they want to leave the School of Music but because their positions as instrumental teachers and performers have been ''disestablished''. There is no place for staff with national and international reputations as performers and teachers, who have given so much to the School of Music and the Canberra community - like Virginia Taylor, Tim Kain and Geoffrey Lancaster (to name just a few) - in the new ANU School of Music.

For Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington to claim that there is a renewed sense of optimism at the ANU School of Music following the appointment of the new head of school beggars belief. The overwhelming emotion at the School of Music among staff and students is one of devastation and grief. The only people experiencing this optimism are the small handful of non-performance staff who see a place for themselves in the new School of Music and the university management who have appointed a person they know will presumably head the school according to their wishes. However, this remains to be seen.

Lindy Reksten Hughes

Your revelation that ''almost the entire staff of the (ANU School of Music) Jazz department'' is being forced to take a ''voluntary'' redundancy is unutterably sad (CT August 10). It makes nonsense of Professor Peter Tregear's earlier assurance that the School of Music would be ''the best music school in the country in two or three years'' (''On a (perilous) musical journey'', Forum, July 28, p3). If such a school were to emerge from the ruins of the present one, why would the ANU need to insist that new or continuing staff members ''not make any disparaging comments … arising out of their employment''?

Surely, if Professor Tregear is to be believed, they would all be singing in harmony anyway. Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington's assertion that student numbers are experiencing ''no significant change'' means nothing. It's easy to find all the students you need if you lower the entry level, though how useful even those students would find the proposed TAFE-like replacement course remains to be seen.

As far as Canberra's jazz community is concerned the saga is over. The only question now is how can the present, internationally-renowned teachers and performers in the School of Music's jazz department be persuaded not to leave town?

Geoff Page, Narrabundah

ANU in peril

It is hard to understand just what the senior executive of ANU are trying to do to this wonderful university which has repeatedly been ranked amongst the world's top. First they have begun to radically change departmental and degree modalities, removing substantial numbers of dedicated staff in the process, then publicly humiliating the university's faculty by using (biased) student surveying to determine teaching adequacy.

I am independent of this university but am saddened to watch a couple of ''Johnny-come-latelies'' destroy a wonderful institution.

Keith Hammond, Campbell

Illegal boat arrivals

Yet more illegal boat entries on the way (''Asylum seekers hurrying to get on boats'', August 11, p8). We as a nation cannot hope to come to a rational logical decision on how to manage and control boat arrivals until the emotion is taken out of the equation. Let's start by not referring to those in the boats as ''asylum seekers''. Until they're proven to be genuine asylum seekers and not queue jumpers, those arriving by boat are ''illegal boat arrivals''.

The sight of a politician weeping in Parliament must be a fillip for those contemplating getting into Australia by boat. We even operate a ''dial-a-rescue'' service with a guarantee that boats will be taken directly to Australia, even if they're in foreign waters when the call is made. And while we are at it, let's treat the captains of these boats for what they are: people smugglers. Charge and punish them appropriately and they'd soon stop their nefarious activities.

B. J. Millar, Queanbeyan West, NSW

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