There's still an enormous wall of Not Ok posters in the foyer of MSD head office. I used to get my morning coffee passing under Russell's watchful eye. The young chap with the bike and tats was rather eyecatching.
The cost of fixing that might be that security needs to have more of a presence than people are currently used to :-/
I wonder, though, whether it's a change in behaviour we're seeing, or a change in its visibility and acceptance.
It's not women's responsibility to police men.
And their male friends. And all the bystanders. Why highlight the female friends, who were no doubt reluctant to be targets themselves?
It's not up to assaulters' friends to stop this, whether they're female or not. It's up to the event organisers to set and enforce a code of conduct that keeps the attendees safe and happy. If you can get kicked out of the cricket for playing drums, surely you should get kicked out for harassing strangers of whatever type.
This coincides closely with something else I read today, about the narratives we use to explain the world and how they shape the way we deal with evidence: Why would anyone believe the earth is flat. I read a lot of this sort of thing, but this stands out as one of the most vivid explanations of the relationship between knowledge and power:
...in a world in which there is so much knowledge, and in which we individually hold so little of it, it is sometimes difficult to see ourselves as significant.
What’s more, science, it turns out, is hard. So if we want to own this narrative, it might take a bit of work[...]
It is therefore tempting to find a way of thinking about the world that both dismisses the necessity of coming to grips with science, and restores us to a privileged social position.
Rejecting science and embracing an alternative view, such as the Earth being flat, moves the individual from the periphery of knowledge and understanding to a privileged position among those who know the “truth”.
A ragtag band of rebels fighting against The Man is the conspiracist version of the Monomyth, perhaps.
Speaking as someone whose cohort drew a few short straws (I now have The Beaten Generation running through my head), I don't think that's an argument not to improve things. That's not how our forebears thought when they established the welfare state.
I'm not saying it should be gruelling. I think no fees is a lot better than the current system, and good for those who can benefit from it. There's been enough ladder-pulling-up in recent years. It's just at the edges, where it meets the idea that market forces dictate the supply of courses, there's potential for things to go a bit awry. It's probably more a problem with the market forces concept than the zero fees concept - it's equally wrong to charge a self-funding student $46,000 a year for a Bachelor of Commercial Aviation when there are almost zero pilots jobs available, than for them to be funded for it by the government. Lifting the crushing burden off the individual in that case is a good thing, but not if the number of students then triples.
I don't believe that tertiary education needs to be purely vocational, but the other extreme, laissez-faire course proliferation, can generate some perverse outcomes. You'd like to think that people can, by and large, make sensible decisions, but I know too many people who have clocked up huge loans on questionable qualifications to have faith in rational utility maximisation. We need to give people the space to grow and develop themselves, but it shouldn't be unlimited. There's surely some point down the slippery slope to put a fence before we hit government funded pet homeopathy and skydiving courses, both of which are currently NZQA approved.
I'm curious about the impact this will have on very high cost/low job prospect courses like aviation or diving - I remember an ad for one along the lines of "serious learning! serious fun!" and I've always had a sense that they prey a little on young people who haven't quite found their way yet, but have access to free credit for training. I'm not sure how big that problem is, or whether there's a practical solution, but a proliferation of NZQA-approved fun but not very useful things is a likely outcome of this policy unless there were corresponding lids on the number of places in certain industries commensurate on the jobs available.
I'm of a very unlucky cohort with respect to student loans. I started university just as fees approached $2000 a year, and finished before interest free came in. I remember Rob in some of my classes, though I doubt he knew me. This policy wouldn't have helped me enormously while I was studying (I found myself ineligible for living costs one year and had to use course costs for that, back when you could get them as a lump sum, to supplement 20hrs work a week on $8.50/hr). But it would have made starting off in the workplace afterwards easier (I paid my loan off hard and fast, objecting to a daily interest bill of more than a coffee a day), and might have made a first home possible before prices started to rise in the mid 2000s.
I think there's a charming novelty value to one senior labour party person being publicly nice about another one. That to me is the takeaway from this - not whether someone is smart or inclusive or authentic - but that the labour folks may have stopped stabbing each other in the back and started to play nice.
Anyone writing something like this is putting their rep on the line. You can't do this while still thinking "what if he lasts ten minutes like the last guy, then what's his successor going to think of me?"
This doesn't change my opinion of Little (all of the above could be true of a leader I'd hate) but it makes a nice change from the past.