Monash University has issued the following statement regarding Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen:
Monash University is home to freedom of expression amongst our diverse staff and student population and encourages expert academic views, however Dr Shimon Cowen is not commenting on behalf of the University or the Faculty of Arts and the University does not endorse his comments. Monash University reiterates its respect for the dignity of all human beings, regardless of sexual preference.
Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen has expressed a number of vehemently and distressing homophobic views as published on the Australian Family Association web site. These views were further substantiated by the mX newspaper in an interview they conducted with him.
Monash University begins their vision and long-term strategy with:
Monash is a university of progress and optimism.
and continues with:
The areas of focus outlined by Monash Futures include:
- the ability to attract, recruit and retain the world’s best talent in both the academic and professional staff cohorts
- ensuring we have the reputation to attract the best students – to make Monash their university of first choice
Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen is a person with virulent, unscientific and outdated views on homosexuality. If Monash is truly “a university of progress and optimism” then people with negative and destructive views toward homosexuality are antithetical to this vision and have no place in the university’s ranks.
I contend that whilst Monash University continues the adjunct/honorary appointment of Dr Cowen and whilst he has any opportunity to engage in any manner in the academic realm, through or on behalf of the university, Monash University are doing the greatest disservice to their students, their reputation, their vision and humanity as a whole.
I ask Monash University to make the continuance of Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen’s adjunct/honorary role conditional on him refraining from promulgating a negative discourse on homosexuality in any official and/or public capacity and to obtain from him a written assurance of this understanding.
If Monash University sincerely respects the dignity of all human beings, regardless of “sexual preference”, they will ensure people with repugnant attitudes toward homosexuality have no voice on their campuses.
I suggest anyone who has a concern about the university’s ongoing association with Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen contact Professor Ed Byrne, Monash University Vice Chancellor and President directly.
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