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Students enter Massey racism debate

"Massey might be better off having the name of someone that better represents its pride in diversity."

Massey students have expressed their own views over whether or not Massey University should change its name following revelations from academic Steven Elers showing racist comments made by William Massey, the man the university is named after.

Incoming MAWSA President Adam Logan Cairns believes that the name of Massey University should not change, saying:

“The issue is topical right now. It’s good to talk about it. Like New Zealand, Massey University has changed so much for the better since that time.

“We shouldn’t change the name of Massey University over this. We have now grown into a university that is recognised internationally for far more positive reasons and in no way do we stand for those dated values and ideologies.

“No-one should currently associate Massey University with these ridiculous views.”

MUSA presidential hopeful Shaun Henry believes that Massey’s comments did not tell the whole story of the man, telling Massive:

“I do not think Massey University should have a name change based on these findings of comments. Society has changed since then, what was acceptable back then is not acceptable now. The times changed, let’s change with them.

“We should still honour Massey for the positive things he achieved as prime minister and not just associate his name with white supremacism.”

Wellington student Te Aniwa Hurihanganui was torn on the issue, saying:

“I’m in two minds about this issue. I think that it would be very difficult to change the name of the university considering it has built a strong reputation over many years.

“Massey’s name may have a troubling past – Massey, the man himself, may have had a racist attitude, but I don’t think that’s what people think when they think of Massey as a university.

“Many see Massey University in our modern day as a far more diverse and multi-cultural space; this is certainly true of the many opportunities international students have to study at Massey, as well as the support networks in place for Māori, Pacific Island and Asian students.

“One might view Massey’s name as a symbol of how far the tertiary institution has come from the conservative ideas of Massey the man, and of the generation he belonged to.

“I do sympathise with those who do want the name change, and totally understand why people would be in an uproar about it. I am personally passionate about Māori rights. I can’t sit here and say that people pushing this name change are crazies, because they’re not.

“Massey might be better off having the name of someone that better represents its pride in diversity.”

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