Tag Archives: Middlesex University occupation

“Who Would Ever Learn Philosophy to Make Money?”: Boycott Middlesex U Now!

Courtesy of Infinite Thought, here is a video, entitled “This is a movement now” and featuring a recent speech by Tariq Ali, about the protest campaign against the announced closure of the Middlesex University philosophy program. This is the first of seven parts. You can view the rest by clicking on the “View on YouTube” icon in the viewing window.

In the light of the Middlesex administration’s unresponsiveness to protests and its escalating thuggishness, a total boycott of the university has been called.

On April 26 Middlesex University announced the closure of its highly-ranked and well-respected philosophy program. This closure has no philosophical or pedagogical rationale, and in fact it has no economic justification either: far from losing money, after covering its salary and administrative costs the program contributes more than 50% of its revenue to the central management of the university. But the management unilaterally decided that it could make more money by investing its funds elsewhere. (For an overview of the situation see http://savemdxphil.com/about/).

Despite widespread international protest of the closure in the form of thousands of letters and petition signatures, the management has shown no signs of reconsidering its decision. Instead it seems dedicated to censoring all dissent: on May 21 it suspended three faculty members and several students for the ‘crime’ of campaigning to save their own courses and jobs.

It is time, then, for supporters of Middlesex Philosophy to take a more active stance.

Petition:

We the undersigned therefore commit ourselves to an academic boycott of Middlesex University until it shows evidence of full reinstatement and continued support for its philosophy program.

Prior to such reinstatement, we will refuse to act as external examiners or to deliver talks at the school. We will encourage colleagues to reject job offers at Middlesex. We will refuse to visit campus for any reason other than to protest the decision to close the philosophy program. We will, in short, cease to engage with Middlesex as a legitimate academic institution.

Go here to sign the petition.

In response to the Middlesex administration’s suspension of several teachers and students who participated in the recent occupation, the Save Middlesex Philosophy campaign has produced this helpful visual all-points bulletin to aid management in identifying and punishing the remaining miscreants. This fellow, for example, looks especially dangerous:

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Middlesex U: The “Crime” of Protest

This just in from Infinite Thought:

Four students were suspended on Friday 21 May: Ali Alizadeh, Nicola Goodchild, Johann Hoiby, and Hoi Yen Voong. The suspension blocks them ‘from entering any part of the University’s premises without written permission’ from management. The students have been informed by the Head of Student Services Fiona Fall (F.Fall@mdx.ac.uk) that ‘we are writing to only a few of you so far but will write to others similarly involved when they can be identified.’

Three members of staff were also suspended on Friday afternoon: Professors Peter Osborne (head of the CRMEP) and Peter Hallward (programme leader for the Middlesex Philosophy MA programmes), and senior lecturer Dr. Christian Kerslake (who learned about his suspension over the weekend), pending investigation into their involvement in the occupations. This means that half of the Philosophy staff have now been suspended from duty.

There are a number of striking things about the staff suspension notices. First of all, staff have been suspended in anticipation of (rather than following) ‘an investigation surrounding the occupations’ at Trent Park. The notices do not refer to any specific allegation of wrong-doing, and do not indicate a timetable for the investigation.

Second, the notices do not formulate a ‘proportionate’ response to the circumstances. For instance, they do not simply prevent staff from communicating with colleagues and students about further occupations or ‘disruption’ at Middlesex. Instead, they command staff to ‘refrain from contacting in any way any University employee, student or any University contractor or supplier without the prior agreement of the Dean or a member of Executive.’ It is hard to see how this command respects basic rights of association and contact. In order now to conduct a routine supervisory meeting with a research student, for instance, staff must now request permission from their Dean and provide him with details of when any supervisory meetings will take place, so that (as a recent management instruction puts it) ‘arrangements can be made for their attendance at the University.’

Third, the notices indicate that ‘the suspension is not a disciplinary penalty in itself and does not imply any decision about the merits of the case’. They instruct staff to continue to ‘ carry out all reasonable duties specified by the University in relation to the delivery of your role’ (in other words, they simultaneously suspend us from duty and instruct us to carry on working more or less as normal). Osborne and Hallward, however, have now specifically been denied permission to attend a regular once-a-term meeting of the University-wide Professors Group, scheduled for Friday 28 May. This is a group constituted and organised by academic (as distinct from managerial) Professors themselves several years ago, originally in opposition to a previous round of management cuts. The great majority of the University’s academic professors already signed a strongly-worded letter condemning the closure of Philosophy, and they are unlikely to appreciate this extraordinary and unprecedented managerial intervention in the operations of their group.

Savemdxphil@gmail.com has already received scores of outraged letters about the suspensions from academics all over the world. We will post a few more of these later today.

The implications of these suspensions extend far beyond the fate of the Philosophy programmes at Middlesex. Students and staff have been suspended for the ‘crime’ of campaigning to save their own courses and jobs. Since it is hard to imagine a more innocuous occasion for student protest than a library sit-in designed to mount a symbolic defence of endangered books and programmes, it is hard to escape the conclusion that what is at stake here is nothing less than the right to protest itself – or at least, the right to protest in ways that might have some actual impact. When he was informed of his suspension shortly after the sit-in ended on Friday, one of the students was told by management that he was indeed entitled to protest the closure of his programme by ordinary, ‘legitimate’ means, e.g. by writing letters, organising petitions, and so on. But he was also told that when thousands of people sign a petition or ‘push a button on Facebook’, this doesn’t indicate a meaningful expression of support.

It looks, then, as if the Campaign will have to continue to provide alternative opportunities for such expression. The issues at stake in this struggle are matters of urgent and far-reaching principle. If you oppose the closures and their implications for humanities teaching, if you oppose the suspensions and their implications for academic freedom and the rights of association and protest, then please attend a rally at on Thursday 27 May, from 4pm onwards, at Middlesex University’s Hendon campus.


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Middlesex Occupation Ends, Fight Continues

The occupation is over, the campaign continues

At 8pm on Friday 14 May 2010, Middlesex University management served a High Court injunction to end a twelve-day student occupation of the Mansion building at Trent Park. The occupation began on Tuesday 4 May, when Philosophy students gathered to protest the management’s abrupt decision to close their unique and successful programmes. The occupation quickly succeeded in focusing remarkable levels of national and international attention on the scandalous situation at Middlesex.

The injunction came into effect at 8am on Saturday 15 May. The students finally decided to end their occupation on Saturday afternoon so as to join a rally, outside the Mansion, in support of the campaign to save philosophy at Middlesex. During the rally, Tariq Ali and members of the campaign spoke out forcefully against the management’s decision to close the programmes, the way this decision was taken, and the way its consequences and implications have been handled.

Today the University management had a clear choice. They could have continued a process of negotiation with the students that management initiated, belatedly and reluctantly, after immense international pressure, on Thursday 13 May. They could have discussed concrete steps for the renewal of MA and PhD recruitment. They could have considered, with their enthusiastic students and staff, options for redesigning and relaunching the BA programme in Philosophy.

Or else: they could have made an appeal to the High Court in order to gain the legal power to drive their students out.

True to form, the management has made its decision. Faced with students who were determined to protect their subject and the future of humanities teaching at Middlesex, management decided to treat them like criminals. Rather than talk to them face to face about the renewal of their programmes, management decided to bully them off the campus.

Middlesex management has been bullying its staff and students for many years now. As everyone knows, the power of a bully ends when the people he intimidates band together and confront him. Middlesex philosophy students have taken a first step towards such confrontation: we appeal to other students and staff, at Middlesex and elsewhere, to join us in this struggle.

This occupation is over; the campaign continues.

To protest the management’s decision to expel the students, please send a message to the board of governors and members of the University executive, to the email addresses below; if you are willing for us to post your letter on our website along with other letters of support, please BCC it to savemdxphil@gmail.com.

Please check this website (www.savemdxphil.com) for future events and regular updates.

The Campaign to Save Philosophy at Middlesex
Saturday 15 May 2010
www.savemdxphil.com
savemdxphil@gmail.com

===========

Email addresses of the Middlesex University management and board of governors:

michael@partridges.org.uk; A.Gajownik@mdx.ac.uk; A.Durant@mdx.ac.uk; thelindens@googlemail.com; andrew.parsons@rlb-law.com; avrobinson1@tiscali.co.uk; l_spence1@sky.com; Bridget.Rulski@guardian.co.uk; colin.hughes@guardian.co.uk; T.Cockerton@mdx.ac.uk; P.A.Johnson@mdx.ac.uk; jritterman@blueyonder.co.uk; dinagray@btinternet.com; j.alleyne@mdx.ac.uk; geoff.lambert2@ntlworld.com; W.Ahmad@mdx.ac.uk; J.Compton-Bishop@mdx.ac.uk; j.mulroy1@btinternet.com; K.A.Bell@mdx.ac.uk; lorna.cocking@btinternet.com; M.House@mdx.ac.uk; M.Keen@mdx.ac.uk; m.driscoll@mdx.ac.uk; PeterCheeseman1@aol.com; Peter.Thomas2@justice.gsi.gov.uk; RS1000@live.mdx.ac.uk; stephen.hand@lr.org; s.knight@mdx.ac.uk; T.Kelly@mdx.ac.uk; T.Butland@mdx.ac.uk; e.esche@mdx.ac.uk

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Transversal Space at Middlesex University


Transversal Space
7 – 9 May 2010

Middlesex University
The Burroughs
London NW4 4BT
UK

www.savemdxphil.com
www.web.mdx.ac.uk/crmep

In response to the planned closure of Middlesex Philosophy and after the failure of the Dean to attend a meeting that he set up with students to explain this abrupt, unjustified and unacceptable decision, the students have occupied Mansion House on Trent Park campus.We now announce the opening of an experimental and communal space for educational presentations and conversations at the interface between philosophy, theory, activism and art. Transversal Space is an alternative educational experience in which the boundaries between disciplines and the relations between students and teachers are blurred. Relationships and ideas are explored in an open and collective way continuing the ethos of our philosophy department and its series of events.

Please come and join us on the beautiful Trent Park campus. A free shuttle bus will take you here from Oakwood station on the Picadilly line (penultimate stop in Northern direction). Let us know if you have suggestions for the program & join us at any point during the weekend. You can contact us at savemdxphil@gmail.com or follow us on facebook.

program of events for this weekend is now being set up, with updates every hour.

LATEST UPDATE:
Saturday, 8 May 2010
3.00 p.m. – BAT (Anindya Bhattacharyya) – The History of Calculus
5.00 p.m. – Alex Callinicos, Professor of European Studies at King’s College London will be giving a talk.
6.30 p.m. – Presentations and Panel Workshop on the topic of VOTING: Alice Moss (CRMEP), Timothy Secret (University of Essex) and Steve Gormley (University of Essex).
10.30 p.m. – Film TBA

Sunday, 9 May 2010
Andrew McGettigan – Title and time TBD

If you want to help stop the closure of philosophy at Middlesex, there are two simple actions you can do right away. The first is to sign the online petition protesting the closure decision. We’ve had over 10,000 signatures already!

The second is to write to people responsible for the decision to tell them how you feel. Please send a brief email or letter to the following four people. Feel free to extract some points from the petition text. And if you’re happy for your letter to be posted in part or full on our blog, then BCC it to us at savemdxphil@gmail.com

The people to email are:
– Michael Driscoll, vice-chancellor of the university – m.driscoll@mdx.ac.uk
– Waqar Ahmad, deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise – w.ahmad@mdx.ac.uk
– Margaret House, deputy vice-chancellor, academic – m.house@mdx.ac.uk
– Ed Esche, dean of the School of Arts & Education – e.esche@mdx.ac.uk

You can just copy and paste this list into your email program:
m.driscoll@mdx.ac.ukw.ahmad@mdx.ac.ukm.house@mdx.ac.uke.esche@mdx.ac.uk

The Save Middlesex Philosophy campaign has received hundreds of letters of support from across the world opposing the closure of the department as described here in The Guardian. We’ve published some of them here for you to read.

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Their Clutter, Our Future (Occupy California)

The Occupy California blog is where it’s all happening these days. Let’s start with this:

Call for Statewide Days of Action Around UC Regents’ Meeting, May 18-20

In Chile and Puerto Rico, in Austria, Greece, Italy, and Croatia, and in 33 states in the US—all over the world we are experiencing the systematic dismantling of education systems that supposedly serve the public. Students all over the world have begun to respond, through occupations, strikes, shutdowns, blockades, and other forms of direct action. We are starting to take back what is ours.

The UC Regents have formed the UC Commission on the Future: a body that will be meeting May 18-20 at UC San Francisco and again this summer to solidify the current cuts. This means more fee increases, larger class sizes, and the introduction of 3-year degrees and online courses. Despite widespread opposition, the regents are making their decisions behind closed doors during the summer months, when school is out of session. If we do nothing, a UC undergraduate entering school five years from now could be paying $22,700 per year for overcrowded classes. We cannot stand by and watch as our public education system is being destroyed due not to a budget crisis but to a state that stakes education as the lowest priority.

The privatization of our universities is a piece of a larger statewide attack on education and other public services. Across California and especially in urban areas public K-12 schools are facing debilitating cuts: teachers are being laid-off and having their salaries reduced while students are getting less attention and lower quality education. UC workers are having their hours cut and are therefore being forced to do more work in less time. Campus resource centers that were intended to address the needs of under-represented communities have been the first on the chopping block. Under the guise of an economic crisis, the state is allocating resources in a way that further privileges the upper class and further disenfranchises those who are already marginalized. This is apparent in Schwarzenegger’s decision to find funding for education by privatizing the prison system; the future of public education should not be contingent on heightened incarceration. We can win this only by rejecting this logic of competition for resources and by refusing to be complicit in a racist, classist, and discriminatory state agenda.

We began this on March 4. In Santa Cruz we successfully shut down campus, which proved that when we organize autonomously we can fight back against this repressive institution that denies us power. We can continue by targeting the university administration and by making it absolutely clear that these backroom deals will not stand. We are calling for students, workers, and all allies to mobilize around the Regents’ meeting in San Francisco on May 18-20 and shut it down. We specifically urge Bay Area campuses to focus their energies on this. We are calling for direct actions at schools and universities that shut down business as usual. We also welcome everyone to join us in Santa Cruz for a full campus shutdown. These actions are a warning that if the administration approves the Commission on the Future’s recommendations, there will be escalated actions and the possibility of a longer-term strike in the fall. Nothing will be won unless we take it for ourselves.

Join your friends and allies to reclaim what is yours.

-UC Santa Cruz Strike Committee

If that isn’t enough to inspire you, then read their posts about the UCSC Strike Committee’s demands,  the May Day party in Santa Cruz, the ongoing occupation at Middlesex University, and the ongoing strike at the University of Puerto Rico.

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