Some Middlesex University Philosophy students, along with Philosophy professors Peter Osborne, Peter Hallward, and Christian Kerslake, were suspended from the University this afternoon. Hallward and Osborne were issued with letters announcing their suspension from the University with immediate effect, pending investigation into their involvement in the recent campus occupations. The suspension notice blocks them from entering University premises or contacting in any way University students and employees without the permission of Dean Ed Esche (email@example.com) or a member of the University’s Executive.
Friday afternoon, 21 May 2010.
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It is very sad for the supposedly cradle of thought and logic to prove so narrow minded, conservative and authoritarian. Solidarity from Romania and Greece with those who stand tall!
These suspensions are clearly designed to humiliate and cower. The Middlesex Administration are clearly are clearly a bunch of self-serving careerists with no concern for the quality of the education they are meant to be providing.
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These suspensions are a sign of weakness, they show that uni bosses are scared of losing control of the situation. Here at Sussex uni, management also got a High Court injunction against occupations and suspended 6 students in March, but this backfired massively because it really got everyone going. Within a few days, there was a demo of around 500 people which led to a new occupation, much bigger than the previous ones. Education workers joined students in defying the High court injunction. UCU unanimously approved a motion condemning the tactics of management. With less than 2 days notice, the students union got around 850 students to come to an emergency meeting at which a vote of no confidence in the VC was passed with near-unanimity. The occupation came to an end on the same day as a UCU strike – and the announcement that management lifted the suspensions of 6 students!
Solidarity from Sussex university!
This seems to be a very transparent attempt at intimidation, presumably due to the failure of the court injunction to stop further occupations. Have the management attempted to engage in clear and meaningful discussion rather than attempting to silence by scare? I doubt it. Furthermore, the terms of the suspension are ridiculous and worrying. Are students meant to be isolated from their housemates in their own homes?
The rule of stupidity is here.
“The suspension notice blocks them from… contacting in any way University students and employees without the permission of Dean Ed Esche”
That doesn’t sound even remotely legal.
It isn’t. Freedom of Association is explicitly included in the European Convention on Human Rights.
The provision forbidding them from contacting Middlesex students in the meantime doesn’t even sound legal. In many cases these students are their friends.
Solidarity from Louisiana. Open Letter to MDX board here: http://proteviblog.typepad.com/protevi/2010/05/open-letter-to-board-of-governors-middlesex-university-21-may-2010.html
Thanks. Your excellent letters have been a great assistance to this campaign!
Solidarity from Sussex Uni. They tried that here, and they were forced to back down. We will beat them at Middlesex too. We support you!
The mindless thuggery of Middlesex management continues to astound me. As a PhD student in philosophy at Middlesex, and as someone who has benefitted hugely from the erudition and intellectual generosity of Professors Hallward and Osborne, I stand square behind both staff and students so callously attacked today. Let the spirit of academic openness and innovation that Hallward, Osborne, and the philosophy dept at Middlesex more generally represent throw into sharp relief the closed minded, bullying philistinism of those who took this decision. This will not stand.
The persons who took and endorsed this decision seem to be guided by a desire to transform the university into a place of intimidation and authoritarianism. Let’s not allow this to happen! Let’s affirm philosophy!
Alexander Garcia Duttmann
We support you 100% of the way.
Demand at least an 82.5% pay reduction amongst all managers at the University.
It doesn’t much matter what happens to us – we are all on loan from death – that’s what the existentialism helps us remember right? Even if you are rejected, criminalised, sent to prison etc, you will be heroes.
This is what I just sent the board. In solidarity, A.T.
Dear members of the Middlesex University board of governors,
the decision taken today to suspend students and staff at Middlesex for their legitimate and courageous attempt to reverse the disastrous and narrow-minded closure of the philosophy department is an act of unmitigated cowardice, bullying and stupidity. Confronted by an inspiring and international campaign of support, which has tried to remind them of the intellectual mission of their university, the Middlesex management have opted to stop up their ears and intensify their campaign of academic vandalism.
I can only hope that, mindful of your responsibilities to the university and to education, you will exercise your judgement and put immediate pressure on those members of the board who have taken this myopic and repugnant decision, before your university is grey-listed for persecuting the very lecturers and students that are standing up for the values of education and critical thought. Colleagues in other universities, who have already voiced their unequivocal support for the cause of Middlesex philosophy, will not let these actions pass unnoticed. They will draw the inevitable consequences from your actions, and break all contacts with an establishment which, if it remains on this path, will lose its right to call itself a university.
Dr. Alberto Toscano
Department of Sociology
Goldsmiths, University of London
I am more appalled every day by the utter blindness and stupidity of the administration at Middlesex University.
Students want to continue studying Philosophy; teachers and researchers are committed to continuing the programs in Philosophy; and the University administration decides to suspend them from further contact with their colleagues? In the name of what?
An institution capable of putting whatever political, economical or ideological motives it may have before all academic and intellectual considerations simply is not worthy of the name “University.”
Solidarity with your struggle and bon courage!
Associate Professor of Romance Studies
Ithaca, New York
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I cannot actually believe this. It makes me want to cry.
Some props for you and some virtual solidarity with you in your struggle, from one 5000 miles away, who also works in a university (the University of California) where quality research and education are being threatened by neoliberal shock ‘n awe. I’ll do what I can at my end; I know you will continue to do what you can from yours. In a post on my own blog, I quoted Peter Osborne noting that philosophy, “functioning emblematically for the open-endedness of experimental research and unmeasurable quality of intellectual inquiry” has become “the temporary resting place of a capitalistic dread.” And I added: In that sense, at least, philosophy (to quote Hugh MacDiarmid) is “The Kind of Poetry I Want”. Let this ugly “suspension interlude” merely serve as an aid to thinking.
Shame on those terrible administrators for suspending some students and professors for their legitimate support of the campaign to roll back the closure of the philosophy department__ what is this_but a return to old style tactics__ a throw back to the days when people were punished and banished for rightful protest … .
Doctor Clifford Duffy
études anglaises de l’Université de Montréal
This is not only a pathetic, cowardly and authoritarian decision, but an extremely foolish one. As if the closure of the department wasn’t enough of a rallying point, the suspensions will surely lead to the intensification of the campaign, more press coverage, a new round of negative PR, and will make potential students think twice about studying at the university.
Middlesex management is dealing with the situation very badly – is this what they get paid for?
Dear Dean Esche and members of the board of governors,
I have just heard the news of the suspension of students and two professors at your university. I am dismayed and outraged by your escalation of the dispute. I have written to you before to express my disagreement with the decisions taken, but you have now taken matters further. You must realise that you are not simply fighting a particular issue, but destroying the reputation of your university, perhaps permanently.
There is discussion of an academic boycott of your institution, which I will be pleased to join and support.
Professor Stuart Elden, Geography Department, Durham University
Editor, Society and Space
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Dear Governors of Middlesex University:
With yesterday’s suspensions of Professors Hallward, Osborne, and several students, I fear we are seeing a merely vindictive gesture that threatens genuine long-term damage to your institution. We have heard of “outlaw nations,” but never of “outlaw universities.” Yet the possible danger now arises of Middlesex becoming just such a pariah. Your administrators did nothing yesterday but turn Hallward and Osborne into international martyrs. Even if all ethics and justice were taken out of the picture, the suspensions are a clumsy overreaction in purely Realpolitik terms. Please: it is not too late for cooler heads to prevail.
Dr. Graham Harman
Associate Professor of Philosophy
American University in Cairo
This is an outrage!
You have my full support and solidarity in your campaign to save Middlesex Philosophy. It is incredible how the destroyers of education feel able to attempt to intimate and victimise the defenders of education. Now is the time for all of us – students, academics, college admin, and the general public to say ‘Enough is Enough’ and for us to show complete solidarity with those fighting on all our behalf.
The following is a motion that I proposed at my UCU branch (London Metropolitan University) – prior to the situation at Middlesex, which will be debated at UCU National Congress next week. As you will see, it is of direct relevance to what is now happening at Middlesex. Hopefully, it will be passed overwhelmingly and will generate some much needed focus in the union movement. I shall try and win an argument that we invite one of the victimised Middlesex students/staff to speak during the Congress debate on the motion.
London Metropolitan University – UCU Coordinating Committee (Chair)
UCU National Executive
HE18 Solidarity with our students
– The recent wave of student protests against education cuts at a number of universities, including Sussex, Westminster and London Met.
– The development of a vibrant student movement is a key ingredient in a successful fight against education cuts and job losses, and that UCU must seek alliances with students and their organisations in that fight.
Conference resolves to:
– Urge branches to work with local student representatives to plan joint campaigning in order to better resist education cuts and job losses;
– Organise joint campaigning and co-ordinated actions with national NUS, and local student anti-cuts campaigns, as and when possible;
– Support the right of student self-activity (including occupations and other non-violent direct actions) in defending staff jobs and education provision;
– Support any student faced with victimisation for taking part in non-violent direct action in support of staff unions and in defence of staff jobs and education provision.
London Metropolitan University (North Branch)
Plonkers, should have been watching Sussex more closely, would have realised that suspensions are a very bad move.
I recommend checking out whether the ban on contacting students is a human rights infringement. Liberty have a phone line for enquiries : right of association. not to mention freedom of speech, right to assembly.
I’m a researcher from Glasgow, down working at the British Library. I went to have a look at the campus yesterday (hoping to meet some activists) and was amused by the “border guard” type activities on the way in. At the barriers at the entrance to the campus a security guard came on the shuttle bus and took a look at each passenger. The presence of 4 guards around the Trent House main building was chilling.
The last time I felt so oddly scrutinized was entering Russia 2 days after they’d expelled British diplomats. This is only a slight exaggeration.
I don’t think I could work in that atmosphere.
Is there anywhere I can attend to shake someone’s hand?
the rally this thursday at 6 (hendon campus) would be a good place. additi0naly, many of us do our research at the british library. in fact, i will be there tomorrow (monday), if you’d like to grab a cup of coffee in the cafe on site.
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I think the time has come to stop fighting for universities – what are we fighting for? Professors making £45k+ a year? A cushy work place?
It is now time to focus on popular education that is self-organised and not dictated by industry. There never was a golden age of the academy, there never will be, it was, is and remains an elitist institution for the chosen few.
Popular education that is self-organized? Stop the madness.
From the (almost) devastated Argentina, we hope we could be with you in the street, and taking the Uni. We have been fighting the Neoliberal University reforms here for many years now and all we can say is that “la única lucha que se pierde es la que se abandona”. Hope and Strength!
Leaving aside for a minute the ethics of this outrageous and stupid action, presumably students have just completed exams, have submitted, or be intending to submit, essays and theses and so on. How are they going to be assessed if half the department is suspended?
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This is absurd. Middlesex is close to losing its credibility as a ‘University’ if it keeps up these ludicrous actions. As a philosophy graduate student myself, I can only say that I am outraged and appalled at the suspension of Dr. Hallward, Dr. Osborne and the few students who were and continue to fight for critical education and thought.
Solidarity and support from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., Canada!
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Closing, suspending…next jailing? In fact thinking is now slowly but steadily being banned from the place where it is supposed to be thriving. In whose interests is this being done?
It is good to see that more and more people are refusing to accept behavior, decisions which are considered unacceptable.
To all of those who are standing up, thank you for standing up. I hope i can domore than just sending these words.
Solidarity with Middlesex philosophy colleagues!
We witness an unfortunate and not really new development in the current fate of the humanities. I wrote something on that in Telos Vol. 148 (Fall 2009) (“Philosophy and the Transition from Theory to Practice…”), and John Protevi’s article in THE (“Why Middlesex Matters”) was a great awakening call for everyone. Perhaps one way to avert such tendencies is more people to try their pens on the merits of these disciplines, which regretably are not being appreciated by certain bureaucrats with power.
Dept. of Philosophy
Kyungpook National University
Recent events at Middlesex, Sussex, and other institutions in the UK have me starting to wonder if we are observing the results of a plague, affecting only university management. It seems to be causing cognitive atrophy of the most lethal kind, a hideous consequence of which is the biting of hands that feed. Who will they turn on next – themselves? I am saddened and angered by what has gone one, and wish you well in your campaign.
Solidarity from Western Australia
The suspension notice, with its ridiculously wide-ranging injunctions, is an unwilling parody of authoritarian control. Unfortunately, its practical effects on our colleagues and their students is showing the tragic potential of unchecked authority, which is hidden behind the purely functional façade of administration. Local and global reactions are crucial in providing a counter-balancing pressure to reverse the trend and turn tragedy into farce.
Centre for Human Rights Education
Curtin University, Perth
They are obviously fucktards.
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It is not about fucktards, politicians or uni management – it is economics!
Want this to change? Then get organized on a global level and change the economic structures!
~ one world – one struggle ~
In Solidarity from Marburg (Germany),
This petty and vindictive action will – alas – lower even further the standing of Middlesex University as a whole in the field of Higher Education in this country and internationally. The coarse and brutal resort to legalistic repression of both staff and students not only indicates the bankruptcy of a management that has long been out of its depth, but that its inhumanity in defending its own tattered policies appears to know no limits. It is to be feared that the treatment of Profs Hallward and Osborne is also a symptom of the profound inversion of educational values that has been undermining our university system over 20 years or more, and I hope that our horror and outrage will lead to a yet bolder critique of this process and resistance to it.
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When the original decision was announced, I was saddened at the judgment of those who run Middlesex. With this latest action, my sadness has turned to anger. By what right are those who are educated and who educate at a university suspended by those who do neither? Through what logic are those who gather together at a university in the name of education placed under the authority of those who seek to destroy it? Are those responsible for this suspension going to assume the mantle of teachers? Of students? Do they have even a passing familiarity with the very concept of education? Or do they find themselves practicing principles of business at an educational institution because they were not competent to practice them in the world of business? If so, they are doubly misplaced, because they cannot seem to practice them competently at Middlesex either.
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While these disputes and the decisions that occasion them are usually more complicated than we outsiders realise, it seems odd that the University of Middlesex’s administrators should be targeting one of its (few) departments that had an international profile. Apart from that, what makes these decisions particularly galling is that they are made at a time when new and expensive buildings are being erected all over university campuses to no obvious purpose, and when university administrators’ suits and cars appear to be getting shinier and their own bank balances healthier.
Who’s the real Occupier here?
The faculty members trying to teach their students what “enjoying free speech”, “acting coherently with your opinions” and “providing culture” mean, or this new wave of University managing class that are trying to turn the UK academic institutions, famous for upholding the values above, into money-grabbing knowledge-economy outlets?
If you want these teachers to be suspended, then some of the overpaid academic “managers” around this country deserve to be jailed for mismanagement and of public goods, and their diversion into private hands.
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Just saw verification that Christian Kerslake was suspended as well. It’s an outright massacre now. Never seen anything like it, and I hope the three suspended faculty “go to the mattresses” now.
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Suspension?! Completely unacceptable. I hope everyone protests and resists these anti-academic bureaucrats that have their hands around the throat of Middlesex Phil Dep!
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Solidarity from Athabasca University.
Grad student at Athabasca who has read articles by all three of these professors since starting my studies. Peter Hallward’s work has been especially helpful. Is Middlesex management aware how far reaching these actions will be in a negative context for Middlesex?
Your efforts to raise awareness of your situation and bravery in seeing your task through ought to kick the rest of us up the backside to help.
Dept of Philosophy
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A note of support for what staff and students at Middlesex are fighting for. The philosophy department, as others have already said here, is internationally recognised and has a unique profile in the UK. I keep thinking of Schopenhauer: there are those who live for philosophy, and those who live off philosophy. When the latter think they can no longer do that, the ‘next steps’ are clear.
Just another example of the disturbing stupidity of our times.
Philosophy (wisdom from truth and reality) is the only hope for humanity – so fight on for truth and justice.
“She (philosophy) is equally helpful to the rich and poor: neglect her, and she equally harms the young and old.” (Horace).
“Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education. .. We are born weak, we need strength; we are born totally unprovided, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgment. Everything we do not have at our birth and which we need when we are grown is given us by education.”
(Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile, On Philosophy of Education)
“This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career. I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by a educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilised in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.” (Albert Einstein, 1949, On Education)
As a research student in philosophy, I’d just like to add to the above comments. Peter Hallward’s work on Deleuze and Badiou has been outstanding, and for me put Middlesex on the map. It is incomprehensible to me how a department producing work of such international relevance should now be threatened with closure, and the recent suspensions demand an intensified and more extended response, one which must obviously now include the demand for Esche’s resignation.
Congratulations to the staff and students who occupied Middlesex university premises in support of this important campaign. The professors will recall the sackings at London University colleges of staff who supported the student occupations at the end of the 1960s. At least two of them (Robin Blackburn & Pete Ayrton) went on to much better things. These protests at Middlesex will be a beacon for all the others in the university factory whose cards are about to be marked.
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