Middlesex management intransigence

On Friday evening 28 May, in a message to all university staff, vice-chancellor Michael Driscoll confirmed once again the definitive closure of all the Philosophy programmes, squashing recent suggestions that management might be prepared to reach some sort of compromise. He also confirmed that management would continue to try to coerce students & staff into ending their participation in the campaign. The way things are going, this will require a good deal of coercion.

Taken from a report at OOP

There are lots of new letters of support, often from entire departments or organisations on the Save Middlesex Philosophy site. This letter from John Protevi and Todd May – who have organised the second petition for a boycott – is well-worth reading. This bit in particular

It is easy to sign a petition, particularly an online petition.  However,
we do not plan the petition to be a merely symbolic gesture.  We hope to
use the petition as an organizing tool.  If you check the signatories to
the petition (which we commend you to do), you will notice not only a lot
of prominent academics, but also a good number of UK academics.  Our plan
is to cull the names from the petition and to ensure that professors
especially around the UK keep to their commitment to boycott Middlesex.
The names we gather on the petition will allow us to do this in a
systematic way, and the communication we have through the Save Middlesex website will allow us to reach large numbers of signatories easily.

And this bit

Please allow one of us, Todd May, to add a personal note.  I have been
involved in grassroots campaigns of this type for the past several
decades.  Over time, one gets a sense of what is and is not likely to
happen.  From this experience, let me share with you that, given what has
unfolded around Middlesex, you cannot prevail here.  You may succeed in
eliminating the philosophy programme, but only at great cost to Middlesex.
In addition, that cost to Middlesex will likely be known as your legacy
to higher education in the UK.  I am sure that you don’t see the benefits
of that scenario as worth those costs, and hope that you can see your way
to acting accordingly.

I think this is right. The pessimistic part of me recognises that the decision is unlikely to be changed; the optimistic part of me thinks that any other university watching will realise that effective communication with staff and students is necessary, indeed essential. Unless there is a fundamental change in the way universities are funded within the UK some readjustment, cuts, closures etc. seem inevitable. Universities are part of a wider issue, and this closure has to be seen in a larger context. The new British government seem to be wielding the knife of cuts with especial alacrity. The reduction in the number of university places for next year is going to have a terrible effect. But even given all that, the management at Middlesex have acted in a singularly inept way.

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