Network Nodes (2018)

Robynn Redgrave

This narrative asks us to consider the abundance of empty rhetoric present in University marketing. And by empty, I mean rhetoric that is full to the brim with competitive individualism.

Is it of discomfort to you, as it is for me, to be part of an educational institution where the concept of individual freedom is valued over that of mutual responsibility? How does it feel to belong to a University whose communication promotes the merits of individualistic behaviour and competition over those of collectivity and solidarity?

Attitudes towards our study have become normalized. The excessive focus on individual independence and self-sufficiency goes unquestioned. The reasons and means to collectivize remain challenging. In continuing like this, we forget about our common values and flatten out the complexity of what is asked from our student work. Dear student: "Make the world a better place" rings like the shallow emptiness of Dear citizen: "Make America great again."

Questioning empty rhetoric is a step towards halting the reproduction of dominant neoliberal values in University education. By promoting competitive individualistic behaviour, we pose a serious challenge to our relationships with others - beings with whom we are entirely dependent on. Changing these dominant values is a task that requires community. One alone can't shift the sticky track of an on-coming freight train, nor can one alone nurse the impact of repeated crushing blows.