Statement from Christian Kerslake

Christian Kerslake, one of the three suspended philosophy lecturers at Middlesex University, had his suspension hearing yesterday (Monday 14 June). He read this statement out after his hearing to the demonstration that had gathered in solidarity with him. Christian heard this morning that his suspension has now been lifted.

The demonstrations today and tomorrow are in defence of the right to protest within the university. The term ‘university’ basically means ‘a community of students, scholars and teachers’. It is a place for learning and teaching, and a place for the free exchange of ideas, including political ideas and including ideas about what a university should be, and how it should respond to the economic and social climate it inhabits.

If one cannot protest freely, peacefully and rationally within a university, and if one cannot protest within the university against the decisions made by the management of the university, then this is a sign that something has gone seriously wrong somewhere. What we have seen over recent weeks is the Vice-Chancellor of this University, Michael Driscoll, taking an authoritarian and intimidatory stance towards some of the students of this university. Michael Driscoll and the University Executive arbitrarily singled out seven individuals at the end of the occupation, and the doors of the Mansion Building at Trent Park still bear their names, barring them from the premises. The four students suspended after the library occupation remain barred from the premises, and after years of working hard at their courses, now have to write for permission to visit the University.

I would like to ask the University Executive to do the decent thing and immediately lift all suspensions from all the students involved in the occupations. Take those ugly legal notices from the doors of the Mansion Building at Trent Park and restore that building to its function: as a house for students and free thought. Until those notices come off those doors, the Mansion Building cannot be said to belong to a University.

Much damage has been done, and there are many things that the remaining philosophy students can legitimately demand from the University. What we need to do now is secure the conditions for a truly excellent undergraduate programme in philosophy at Middlesex over the next two years. But also we should not give up on the core goal of the campaign: to reinstate philosophy at Middlesex. We have a concrete goal that is quite achievable: to re-open philosophy at Middlesex in 2011, to start admitting students again, and to re-build the department from there.

For now, I would like to urge everybody here, if they can, to come along on Tuesday to support Peter Hallward and Peter Osborne and defend their right to protest.

About bat020

bat020 is a journalist writer and activist based in London. interests include philosophy, Marxism, mathematics, technology and dance music. go to for long posts, @bat020 for short ones, for somewhere in between.
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13 Responses to Statement from Christian Kerslake

  1. I have applied for this course to start Sept 2010 – would happily wait till 2011 to start – but received an official letter (on Uni letterheaded paper) from Prof Ed Esche saying that this course will now be hosted at Kingston though applications will be processed via MdX. Anyone care to tell me (and other applicants) what on earth is going on here?

    Stuck in Southampton – but good luck with the protests and the, er, OCCUPATION!

  2. G Rogers says:

    Strong words. Thank you.

  3. Ida Hajdari says:

    “We have a concrete goal that is quite achievable: to re-open philosophy at Middlesex in 2011, to start admitting students again, and to re-build the department from there.”

    Amen to that.

  4. Eric Alliez says:

    The whole question, dear Christian, is that Mdx Executive made very clear that this ‘concrete goal’ was NOT negociable, and consequently NOT achievable. Despite an amazing world campaign, the fantastic students’ mobilization, and the highest costs for Mdx University (increased by their ‘answer’ in terms of Suspensions). At this point, I’m afraid that we got what was REALLY ‘achievable’: transfer of the Centre and (already closed) Post-Graduation to another (kind of) University, 2 Y for Mdx Undergraduate programme (= Save Mdx 2 Jobs, including yours = no redundancy at all for the 6 of us), and open future for students and remaining staff… From Mdx to Kingston. Not ideal at all, quite uncomfortable on many aspects, but certainly not a defeat. For now.

    • Ida Hajdari says:

      Who is “we” Eric?

    • G Rogers says:

      I think you are missing the point, Eric. Christian was not here referring to your personal decisions to move on and leave the Middlesex campaign behind, but to the right of students to protest. He was also defending the rights of a university to be a university and for the rights of students to expect a decent BA. They won’t all disappear now that some of the staff have moved on.

    • Tunc Blake says:

      Dear Eric, the move of “Gang of Four” to another university to save their carriers is certainly not justified by saying in retrospective that it was in deed an unwinnable fight. An etical damage was done… To every body who were part of this campaign who asked support from over seas across the globe for “unachievable” purposes; at the end which become a marketing stunt… The reputation of the members of the “Gang of four” certainly at stake here. It is particularly concerning that Library occupation and Hendon Camp was pushed by Hallward knowing that the deal to move another university was already almost done. These two actions were dangerous particularly the library occupation which put people at risk, and did not contribute to the campaign. What seems more clear in retrospective that Hallward and you took the advantage knowingly that it is downhill for the campaign; the UCU meeting was undermined by Hallward as the result of the meeting would never be tested (I mean the the potential boycott and the momentum this might give the campaign) he said that student action is more important (he knew what did this mean…) It was important only for his game but not the whole purpose of the campaign which was not important to the gang of four. Your situation is also likewise questionable: You came to campus to meet the management went back without waiwing your hand even from far to the occupied building. Nevertheless with your “online contributions” you played your part in the dubious moves of gang of four; why did you never say what you are saying now when you were praying to the holy father? Since holly father mentioned; For Osbourne we can say that he kept his hands clean as much as pontus platus did… A proper self reflective confession to the congress of people party still might give your credibility back, I can sadly predict otherwise you will face a crunch, which will go with you as much as you being sacked from university of vienna for protesting… I expect the appearance of second video…

      • In the spirit of critique here, I think if the unconcealed aggression begins to rise any further towards personal attacks you will all start to miss the whole point of what this protest MIGHT have been about. Surely it was NOT about deliverance from substitute father figures who will always let us down with their fallible humanity? Surely it could have been about the strongest possible legal responses to the MdX exec linked with a strategically crafted PR campaign that is still not finished? Even if what you might say is true about the now demonised ‘deserters’, why are you shooting at them when the enemy is still laughing in your face?

  5. Eric – the language of ‘NOT’ negotiable and ‘NOT’ achievable needs to be challenged – at the very least by a department of philosophy specialising in subtractive and insurgent ideologies – non?!

  6. Pingback: Christian Kerslake statement – suspension lifted | Progressive Geographies

  7. Mark says:

    I think it’s clear that four “senior” faculty members and their postgraduate students have grown accustomed to identifying themselves as “philosophy at Middlesex” so now that they are gone, they are having a hard time understanding why there are still some who want to continue the fight that they have (conveniently) deemed to be unwinnable. All they have to do now is to persuade themselves and others that the move was not a defeatist and cowardly step but a brave and visionary “salvation of philosophy at Middlesex” – the only way to prove them and all the rest of they naysayers wrong is to continue the campaign under the same banner “Save Middlesex Philosophy!”

  8. Rosa says:

    Christian appears to be a bit of a star from his last few posts.
    Solidarity from Sussex.
    All our fights are far from over.

  9. drywipe says:

    it is a clear fact that the transfer of the CRMEP from one institution to another is a positive outcome; what isn’t that clear is how the efforts of so many of the people involved in the campaign are being translated into ‘philosophical’ results… the philosophy postgraduate courses seem to have the structure of precisely that which a lot of us seem to be fighting against in this campaign: neoliberal capitalist systems and institutions (universities as shopping malls, degrees as commodities, etc): pay £5,000 for what is effectively an overdose of information and quickly move on… “yes, quick, quick, we have 20 or 30 more ‘funding units’ eager to pay, yes, yes, quick, quick…” and this year after year… universities as a factories of information rather than fountains of knowledge… are we not fighting to address this too? is christian not advocating for the criticism of the criticism?

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