Williams letter

24 May 2010

Dear Board Member

I write to protest against the suspension of students and staff involved in recent protests against the cuts in philosophy programmes at Middlesex University. It is clear that all the actions taken by the students and staff have been thoughtful and non-violent responses about a matter they care greatly about. They have used detailed arguments and measured acts to draw attention to this matter. The balanced coverage in the press and overwhelming worldwide support is testimony to the value of those arguments and to the importance of the moves designed to bring them successfully to a wider public. It is shameful to use brutal punitive tactics such as suspension in response to these arguments. To suspend students and staff seeking to defend their education and subject is a vengeful and immoral move designed to cause deep personal harm and fear. A university should first and foremost be a place for debate about its own decisions, since otherwise it will have no wider legitimacy. To have sought to curtail this debate in such a manner brings your university into disrepute and is bound to bring about an academic boycott.

Please return your university to a reasonable stance and reinstate the students and staff involved in the dispute.

Kind regards

Professor James Williams
University of Dundee

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