Rindos Chronicles- End in Site? (sorry for pun)

Hugh W. Jarvis (hjarvis@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Sat, 11 Nov 1995 17:41:25 -0500

For over two years [!] I have been posting occasional updates about the
unfair treatment of Dave Rindos at the hands of the University of Western
Australia. Recently, (October 28th) a major breakthrough occurred
with the publication of a long, front-page, article in the "Review"
section of The Weekend Australian. This described, in some detail, the
serious injustices meeted out to Dr. Rindos and to the students in

Then, in a remarkable step, the article was followed-up on Monday by a
*damning* editorial calling for justice to finally prevail. I append a
copy of the editorial. I think you will agree it is pretty powerful.

Given that The Australian is apparently the major, or perhaps better said,
ONLY national newspaper in the country, their action in making public the
absurdity of what went on at UWA could not possibly help but bring this to a
long overdue conclusion (assuming that UWA has the smarts finally to
admit what everybody else in the academic world already knows -- that it
blew it, and blew it in the worst way!).

Anybody who would like to express their feeling about what has been
happening at the University of Western Australia directly to the
source should send their comments to the university's vice-chancellor.
She can be reached on:

In another development, I will soon be announcing a Web Site which will
contain the feature article mentioned in the editorial. This will be
expanded, in the very near future, into a site considering all the details
of the now notorious Archaeology Affair at the UWA. This has great
potential, not only for people interested in following this specific case
of a "University Gone Bad," from both an anthropological and general
interest perspective, but will also serve as an example of how the Web can
be applied to making information resources available in ways that were
simply not possible before.

Dave, who as we all now know did not come up to the "high academic
standards of the UWA," has told me that he is working on an ethnographic
analysis of the documents he received via Freedom of Information
processes, and will be contributing that to the site too! It all looks to
be VERY interesting. As he wrote to me: "THE important conclusion that
appears to be coming out from the ongoing analysis of the data is that, in
fact, post-modernism, has a *great deal* to offer to the construction of a
more realistic, and wholistic, cultural-selectionist model for cultural
change. I guess I would have to say I am a bit blown away by it all, but
that is where the data is leading. . .."

Now, here is the Editorial which appeared in Australia on Monday the 30th:

---- start of article -----

THE AUSTRALIAN, 30 October 1995


An injustice appears to have been done to Dr David Rindos by the
University of Western Australia and it needs sorting out. The university
claims to have refused him tenure because of insufficient productivity --
that is, that he had not published enough academic papers. Yet Dr Rindos,
a renowned archaeologist, has not lost his high reputation among
professionals worldwide. In view of what seems to have happened to him
during his probationary period at the university it is not surprising if
his academic work suffered.

Kate Legge's report in The Weekend Australian on Saturday shows how Dr
Rindos academic life was made unbearable. He was shunted around between
departments and kept away from the resources he needed to do his job.
Minor and major irritants were put in his way, apparently arising from
alleged problems in the archaeology department that senior academics say
were never properly investigated. Legge's account is that of a man who
was hailed as a genius when he was recruited but who became the target of
a campaign to undermine him.

There are serious problems about the way the case was handled by the
university. First, it ignored recommendations by its own internal review,
which had sought a full-scale investigation of allegations made against Dr
Rindos. Instead, the university gave two academics a brief that was
really confined to reviewing written submission, and no report was

Second, the process used by the university's tenure review committee to
assess his performance was riddled with inequity. Dr Rindos was denied
tenure on the grounds of low research output. These grounds can only be
called specious. The committee acknowledged other academics had been
granted tenure despite turning in a poorer productivity rate, but said a
"lowest common denominator" approach should not be used to judge him.
Fair enough. But the committee did not take into account the
extraordinary obstacles put in his path. Dr Rindos was pushed around by a
series of transfers and departmental mergers. He was even relegated to
the campus radio station office, with no departmental affiliation, support
staff or resources.

The tenure review committee said it could not judge whether his alleged
low output was influenced by personal limitations or outside forces.
Frankly, a committee which cannot consider such matters is not doing its
job properly. Dr Rindos has appealed to the University Visitor for his
case to be reviewed. This is the university's opportunity to put things
right. The Rindos case continues to be controversial because it was not
investigated as thoroughly as it should have been at the appropriate
time. It warrants a complete re-examination -- and if there has been an
injustice it is up to the university to admit it and take steps to rectify

---- end of article -----

Hugh Jarvis

Hugh Jarvis...hjarvis@acsu.buffalo.edu