Dear Dean Esche and Vice-Chancellor Driscoll,
Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Todd May and John Protevi, from
Clemson University and Louisiana State University respectively. We are
the authors of the petition that went up Wednesday 26 May calling for a
boycott of Middlesex until the philosophy programme is reinstated. We are
writing you in the spirit of open communication to let you know our plans
for the petition.
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.
The actions you have taken since 26 April are, in our view, inimical not
only to the project of philosophy but to the very idea of a university.
We will be tireless in seeking to overturn them.
As we write, there are a thousand names on the petition (we’ve attached a
pdf of the its current status), and they are currently being added at the
rate of roughly a hundred an hour. There will soon be several thousand.
We hope to use those several thousand and more in a concerted campaign
whose goal is the restoration of Middlesex’s philosophy programme.
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.
In any case, we will update you periodically on the progress of the
Todd May and John Protevi