At 8pm on Friday 14 May 2010, Middlesex University management served a High Court injunction to end a twelve-day student occupation of the Mansion building at Trent Park. The occupation began on Tuesday 4 May, when Philosophy students gathered to protest the management’s abrupt decision to close their unique and successful programmes. The occupation quickly succeeded in focusing remarkable levels of national and international attention on the scandalous situation at Middlesex.
The injunction came into effect at 8am on Saturday 15 May. The students finally decided to end their occupation on Saturday afternoon so as to join a rally, outside the Mansion, in support of the campaign to save philosophy at Middlesex. During the rally, Tariq Ali and members of the campaign spoke out forcefully against the management’s decision to close the programmes, the way this decision was taken, and the way its consequences and implications have been handled.
Today the University management had a clear choice. They could have continued a process of negotiation with the students that management initiated, belatedly and reluctantly, after immense international pressure, on Thursday 13 May. They could have discussed concrete steps for the renewal of MA and PhD recruitment. They could have considered, with their enthusiastic students and staff, options for redesigning and relaunching the BA programme in Philosophy.
Or else: they could have made an appeal to the High Court in order to gain the legal power to drive their students out.
True to form, the management has made its decision. Faced with students who were determined to protect their subject and the future of humanities teaching at Middlesex, management decided to treat them like criminals. Rather than talk to them face to face about the renewal of their programmes, management decided to bully them off the campus.
Middlesex management has been bullying its staff and students for many years now. As everyone knows, the power of a bully ends when the people he intimidates band together and confront him. Middlesex philosophy students have taken a first step towards such confrontation: we appeal to other students and staff, at Middlesex and elsewhere, to join us in this struggle.
This occupation is over; the campaign continues.
To protest the management’s decision to expel the students, please send a message to the board of governors and members of the University executive, to the email addresses below; if you are willing for us to post your letter on our website along with other letters of support, please BCC it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please check this website(www.savemdxphil.com) for future events and regular updates.
The Campaign to Save Philosophy at Middlesex
Saturday 15 May 2010
Email addresses of the Middlesex University management and board of governors:
email@example.com; A.Gajownik@mdx.ac.uk; A.Durant@mdx.ac.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; Bridget.Rulski@guardian.co.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org; T.Cockerton@mdx.ac.uk; P.A.Johnson@mdx.ac.uk; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; W.Ahmad@mdx.ac.uk; J.Compton-Bishop@mdx.ac.uk; email@example.com; K.A.Bell@mdx.ac.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org; M.House@mdx.ac.uk; M.Keen@mdx.ac.uk; email@example.com; PeterCheeseman1@aol.com; Peter.Thomas2@justice.gsi.gov.uk; RS1000@live.mdx.ac.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; T.Kelly@mdx.ac.uk; T.Butland@mdx.ac.uk; firstname.lastname@example.org
Pingback: “the occupation is over, the campaign continues” | Progressive Geographies
Pingback: Middlesex occupation ends, and Tariq Ali whimpers « Necessary Agitation
Pingback: Middlesex Occupation Ends, Fight Continues « chtodelat news
Pingback: Middlesex University: the occupation ends – the campaign continues « Verso UK's Blog
As a member of the School of Arts and Education at Middlesex, based at the Trent Park campus, I would like to congratulate the students who are challenging the closure of philosophy on their campaign to date and wish Save Middlesex Philosophy further success.
The students who took the brave decision to end the occupation have grounds when they say they are being bullied by the university management, and when they say that bullying has long been employed by university managers against students and staff as well. Whether their use of the term ‘bullying’ is quite in keeping with Human Resources usage is beside the point. At the Universities and Colleges Union emergency meeting last week, members shared a great deal of information about how they are being undermined and frightened . Under the heading of sustainability, staff are continuously being asked to write and rewrite teaching programmes with ever fewer resources, and write plans and ‘visions’ in which the only ‘future’ includes the probability of their own redundancies. This forced march is increasingly the daily character of our working lives. Often the dust has not settled from one rationalisation or sustainabililty exercise before the next one begins. Uncertainty and anxiety about how we are supposed to ‘deliver’ the student experience with ever diminishing resources and with no recognition of our contribution to the life of the university are the only continuities.
But sustainability, like many faux-neutral managerial coinages, is a slippery value. If today a 55% contribution to general purposes is the criterion on which the financial sustainability of a programme or subject area must be calculated, precedent suggests that tomorrow or the next day it will be 56 or 60%. This moving of the goal-posts is a constant feature of management practice in the School of Arts and Education. Many of us in the school see the attempt to close philosophy as part – and not the beginning — of a long process, governed by an essentially pragmatic and instrumental vision of higher learning, in a university re-engineered accordingly. How much self-awareness there is in this process is hard to say. The creeping authoritarianism of the corporate ethos does not encourage the free play of self-critical reason. Staff, for their part, are expected not just to do what they are told, after the usual pause for consultation, and to uphold the rationale in public – perfectly ordinary, some might say – but also to embrace it as if it were their own. At Middlesex, one of our key official criteria of learning at undergraduate and postgraduate level is ‘critical’ – it is worth asking what critical might now mean, in an institution that has decided that its distinguished philosophy group make no worthwhile contribution (i.e. not ‘measurable’) to the University.
Dr Rachel Malik
Senior Lecturer in English Literary Studies, School of Arts and Education
Rachel Malik’s comments are annoying in the extreme, and amount to little more than rhetoric writ large. She states: “The creeping authoritarianism of the corporate ethos does not encourage the free play of self-critical reason.”, and yet, rather, she demonstrates that the creeping radicalisation of the ‘save mdx philosophy’ campaign does not encourage the free play of self-critial reason and an ability to practice what she preaches. First, what self-critical reason did she apply to her decision to take and treat as her own for public consumption the words and feelings of MDX UCU staff at a closed meeting, that had so few staff present it was not even able to pass a vote, with little apparent thought for this breach of trust? Second, what self-critical reason has she applied to the decision to ‘piss out’ and ‘piss off’ rather than ‘piss in’ and work with her fellow colleagues and students within the organisation that pays her salary? Third, what self-critical reason was applied to her decision to attempt to bully MDX management by using this forum and the ground-swell of national and international condemnation that is, as she knows, based on the very same rhetoric and inaccurate information which she peddles above? Whatever the faults of MDX, which are no more or less than those of all other HEIs, I am proud to work for Middlesex University, and I am sick to death of the ‘nonsense on stilts’ that is being presented on the internet and in the national press merely because a small group of staff refused to read the writing on the national and internal wall. I say Middlesex Rocks, and I know many other staff say likewise.
Mounting personal attacks is very easy when you don’t have to give out your own name.
‘Middlesex Rocks’ alleges that Rachel Malik violated confidence of proceedings regarding the UCU emergency meeting. So far as I can see, all she reports of that meeting is that “members shared a great deal of information about how they are being undermined and frightened”. No allegation is leveled against a named individual. No allegation is attributed to a named individual. It doesn’t really come to much more than that UCU members went to a UCU meeting and shared their concerns about their management. It’s a very long way short of “tak[ing] and treat[ing] as her own for public consumption the words and feelings of MDX UCU staff at a closed meeting”.
The other two complaints are (if I’m reading ‘piss’ aright) that Rachel Malik is airing the university’s dirty linen in public by posting a reply on a public internet site, and that by so doing she is seeking to bully the Middlesex management.
There’s a certain level of debate that has to be internal to an organization, and overly hasty moves to make that debate public could be construed as disloyalty. But that’s not the case here. The announcement of the closure of philosophy was, by its nature (especially given the department’s international reputation) a public matter, and it was bound to prompt vigorous public debate.
Whatever the rights and the wrongs of the matter, the decision amazed many Middlesex staff. The first most of us heard of the planned closure was when it had already become public. So far as most of us were concerned, there had been no internal debate to contribute to, and therefore no chance of our being persuaded of the university’s case, much less of our seeking to influence it.
Of course, I realize there had been discussion with the philosophy staff themselves, but even they seem to have been as astonished as the rest of us at the decision to close all their programmes (and presumably, therefore, in due course the entire department).
On the face of it, it’s bewildering. No one denies that their undergraduate recruitment had been weak. But if Middlesex can’t manage to break even with a Master’s programme that, it is claimed, boasts more students than any other in the country, it looks as if there’s something wrong with Middlesex rather than with the philosophy department.
If there had been an attempt to prepare the ground for the decision to close all the philosophy programmes, and some sense of being willing to listen to questions from the School as a whole and respond to them, and maybe even of the management being open to persuasion, I doubt whether the furore would have reached its current intensity. But when most of us learned of the possibility of closure on 28th April, the decision had already been taken. Under such circumstances, debate is bound move outside the university, and make an appeal to opinion in the world at large. I appreciate that may be uncomfortable for some. But appeals to public reason and public opinion fall a long way short of bullying.
Perhaps one can defend Middlesex on the grounds that its faults “are no more or less than those of all other HEIs”, though it would be a complex matter to prove it. But it’s a less than ringing endorsement. We should aim to be the best we can be, and hold ourselves to the highest standards. What has been so profoundly dispiriting for many Middlesex staff about the announced closure of philosophy, was that, as our highest rated research group, with a thriving postgraduate programme, philosophy demonstrated that it was possible and practical to aspire to excellence at Middlesex. Now one has to wonder.
“…Mounting personal attacks is very easy when you don’t have to give out your own name”…as is mounting attacks against the University when you are not in command of the facts, or rather only use only those that appear to make your case.
Middlesex rocks, yes it does, and some of us are not going to stand and watch you attempt to destroy the good name of our University without at least adding an alternative (perhaps ‘critical’) perspective on these pages!
So what are these other ‘facts’ that aren’t being discussed here? Both your comments have tried to smear the Save Middlesex Philosophy campaign as giving inaccurate information, but yet neither of your comments have specified either (a) what is inaccurate about what’s being said, or (b) what other information is being sidelined.
Currently you’re trying to defend the Middlesex administration by acting like a troll. It does seem a fitting style of defence for the pro-management position, but it rather implies you haven’t got a proper defence at all…
Pingback: MDX Re-occupied «
‘MDX Rocks’ is so “proud to work for Middlesex University” that he/she doesn’t even have the guts to post under his/her real name. How much more self-defeating can one get? He/she must be either a management sock puppet or the kind of subservient, a-critical, anti-intellectual staff that short-sighted management love to hire.
Pingback: Middlesex University: REOCCUPIED! « The New School Reoccupied
Pingback: Middlesex University: REOCCUPIED! « Occupy Everything!
Pingback: Photos from the Hendon rally and occupation 27-28 May 2010 | Save Middlesex Philosophy