A Letter from the Students to Ed Esche & the Board of Governors

Dear Professor Esche,

Thank you for your letter. However, we feel that it does not adequately address the issues we have collectively raised. Beyond the alleged facts governing your reasons for closure, which we have reason to dispute, we are concerned at your lack of engagement with the issues raised by this campaign: the incongruity between your decision and the world-class status of the centre, and its contribution not only to the reputation of the University but to the intellectual and academic arena at large; the status and aim of University education beyond issues of revenue; and most importantly, the irreversibly damaging effects that your decisions are indubitably having on the reputation of the University, and on the staff and students who continue to work there.

As we do not accept the justifications you have provided for the closure of the philosophy department, and have good reason to believe that not one of them would hold up to scrutiny, we remain undeterred in our demand for a reversal of the closure. We furthermore vehemently oppose the targeted suspension of members of the department, staff and students, who have taken proportionate and legitimate actions to protest the decision, and we demand their immediate reinstatement.

The allegations of illegality that you have made against those taking part in the occupation are serious enough in themselves without the added damage caused by your recent suspension of staff and students- an action that has only served to fuel the support of the campaign. More devastatingly, these suspensions have also sparked an international petition to boycott the University – a movement that our external examiners have already joined – and which will result in the greylisting of the University. We believe that greylisting is a justified response to your unjustified and disproportionate decision to suspend students and staff. However, the consequences of these developments- particularly for the current MA and PhD students who rely on this particular component of external supervision, but also for the entire student body in terms of the compromised standing of a qualification from the University- will be disastrous, and will explicitly contradict your insistence on our continued study (a contradiction that has already been effected by your imposition of measures to monitor the communication our supervisors have with us). We therefore strongly demand that you immediately withdraw all suspensions.

With respect to the background you have given for your decision, we are concerned at the lack of proportion between the facts and figures Management have presented, and their decision to terminate the entire department- a disproportion that signals a total rejection of Management’s supposed intention to negotiate workable solutions with the staff.  On this level, your failure to mention in your letter the proposed reconsideration of recruitment of part-time MA students- a reconsideration you offered at a meeting with students only two weeks ago- seems particularly symptomatic. In addition, your criticism of Philosophy’s failure to attract “a broader range of funding sources” beyond its central measure of excellence, the RAE, highlights a serious misrecognition of the very profile of the Centre, within which sources such as “continuing professional development, consultancy and other areas of knowledge transfer”, simply have no place. Finally, some of your particular allegations, including that of serious assault to staff during the occupation, remain entirely unsubstantiated and indicate to us nothing other than desperate misrepresentations aimed at stifling a legitimate form of protest.

The oversights and inaccuracies present in your letter testify to a disposition that seems to us adverse to any form of negotiation, and merely reinforces our collective dissatisfaction and our demands. We will therefore continue to protest your decision to close the department, to suspend tutors and to victimise students, until you rectify this regrettable situation. Your failure to do so will result- and is already resulting- in serious damaging consequences to the reputation of Middlesex University. If your ongoing mismanagement continues, the only honourable thing for you to do will be to tender your resignation.

Yours sincerely,

The Students

About suicideally

DJ, philosophy student, flâneuse.
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9 Responses to A Letter from the Students to Ed Esche & the Board of Governors

  1. Jay says:

    Is this response to Middlesex management’s statement of 17th May, linked below, or another subsequent letter?


  2. Pingback: letter from Middlesex students to the Dean « Object-Oriented Philosophy

  3. CircSqu says:

    Besides the various evasions and the familiar misinformation in the letter Kay links to, surely the most serious part is the allegation that, during the Mansion House occupation:

    “Assaults were committed on security staff by individuals from the protest on entering the Mansion building resulting in serious injuries including broken bones and severe bruising.”

    If this is true why did the police leave so soon after arriving having concluded that nothing illegal had occurred and why has no further action been taken? If there is a shred of truth to these allegations, why has it taken until now to mention the ‘broken bones’ and the ‘serious bruising’. And where is the evidence? You would have thought that if these things had actually happened then evidence would have been taken and circulated as this would be the administration’s trump card PR-wise.

    I can only assume on this basis, without having been there, that these claims are completely bogus – that is, that they are lies.

    The administration may have been able to make their claims of ‘assault’ stick legally before (i.e. if anyone so much as brushed past a security guard when entering the building this could be construed as ‘assault’) but now that they have made their allegations more specific and more serious this has escalated the situation yet again.

    Legal advice should be sought immediately on the subject of slander. A lawsuit should be discussed. This is easy for me to say, I know (it isn’t my neck on the line), but it seems necessary nevertheless.

    With their backs against the wall, as they now undoubtedly are, and with their own jobs on the line, as they may well be before long, do you think that these people, given their conduct so far, will not file criminal charges if they think they can? If we are to assume that they believe their own claims then they must at least believe this to be a possibility.

    • Jacqui Thewless says:

      I agree. To an ever-growing body of evidence of culpable mismanagement, slanderous accusations about injuries not committed have been added. How bad does this have to get before those responsible for all these outrages are legally sacked?

  4. John Protevi says:

    Excellent letter! I wrote this on my blog while linking to the letter:

    If you’ve ever wondered if it’s worth defending Middlesex Philosophy, read this letter from the students. The courage, commitment, intelligence and solidarity are simply admirable. It would be shameful not to support them to the fullest.

  5. Todd May says:

    We’re with you, and moving to give the petition some teeth even as I write this.

  6. Pingback: Middlesex Rally 27 May | Progressive Geographies

  7. doctorzamalek says:

    The “assaults and injuries” claim bothers me too. You either file charges with the police, or you refrain from any such accusations.

  8. timmy says:

    An excellent letter. They should really bring in a local news camera crew and expose this unacceptable behavior. Most citizens would side on behalf of a profitable, well-established program of educators over petty bureaucrats.

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