Don’t worry, I didn’t really

Let me respond to this email, that I, and every other UG non-finalist, received today:

“As you may be aware, one of the campus trade unions, UCU (which represents academic and some professional services staff), has called on various sections of its members to take a series of one-day strikes with action scheduled for a number of days between Friday 18 June and Thursday 24 June.

UCU action through the year to date has been called on the grounds of opposition to any compulsory redundancies arising from the implementation of the University’s Proposal for Change.  The University has been working together with the three campus trade unions to avoid such redundancies.

Throughout this process, the University has been doing all we can to safeguard the interests of our students. And although this UCU action explicitly seeks to disrupt the assessment process, we are taking appropriate steps to prevent this disruption.

We are working with all our academic Schools and providing advice and guidance to ensure all exams and assessment continues as normal. Assessment and marking continues to proceed on the normal schedule.   At time of writing, we intend and expect that non-finalist progress results will be published as normal via Sussex Direct – ie 20 July (for 2nd years) and 21 July (for 1st years).

In the meantime, it is important that you continue to attend all scheduled assessment activities on campus and submit work by the due dates. Examinations scheduled in the remainder of this term will go ahead as normal, as will the schedule of marking and Exam Board processes.

We appreciate that some students will have concerns about crossing picket lines in coming days, but please note that UCU have said that their action is not intended to prevent students from taking scheduled examinations and students should feel entirely able to do so. It is very important that you follow this guidance, because the University’s mitigating evidence processes will not accept unwillingness to cross a picket line as an acceptable reason for condoning absence from exams, or for missing or late submissions.

In the meantime, we have posted some frequently-asked-questions here:
http://www.sussex.ac.uk/sas/examsanducuaction

If you have any queries about the exam processes that are not answered by these FAQs, please contact your School Office. We are also keeping the Students’ Union in touch with all developments.

In relation to UCU’s concerns which gave rise to the action, we have today announced that we are hopeful that the changes can take place without the need for any compulsory redundancies.  We are therefore asking UCU to stand down their action, as the grounds on which UCU initiated its action earlier in the year was the avoidance of compulsory redundancy.

Professor Clare Mackie
Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning)”

And here is my response:

“Prof. Mackie,

Thank you for leaving this in my inbox, in your (the pro-vice-chancellors’) anonymous yet almost endearing tone. However I have a few issues with its contents. Let me elaborate:

Firstly, aside from the attempt to turn your students against their lecturers and tutors, which I understand the importance and necessity of, was the length of this correspondence entirely necessary, as it appears the majority is copied ad-verbatim from the F.A.Q. you have linked to. Should I wish to see what possible effect this industrial action has on me, if I wasn’t already learned enough from previous correspondence in a similar vein, and I’m glad to see you presume I do, I could simply follow the link you have provided to gather all the information I desire.

Secondly, the message you deliver in this latest correspondence is that you are “taking appropriate steps to prevent this disruption [to the assessment process]”. Unfortunately I find this impossible to believe. As I’m sure you are aware, the UCU is threatening a full academic boycott of the University as of September. I fail to see how this will not disrupt assessment processes across the University in most if not all departments in some form. Whilst on the topic of disruption, I again fail to see how essentially scaring 13 staff from my department out of their jobs, thus eliminating the necessity for compulsory redundancies, will not disrupt my learning. However, that so many staff are being pressured into leaving their jobs or early retirement is a ((saturated blood-stain on your colleagues’ hands)) testament to your ability as managers to push the Proposals for Change through, and I sincerely hope you ((collectively and imminently follow them out of the door and, to be quite honest, change your career paths to ones that avoid having any sort of authority over anyone)) continue your successful management of the University for many years to come.

Thirdly, come next year, would ‘not having enough seats in a lecture theatre and consequently not being able to access this term’s lectures’ count as mitigating evidence, or would that be considered a perk of the course?

In anticipation of a swift ((resignation)) reply,

Yours”

How does that sound? Like a bitter, resentful student that abhors the way my university is being run. It should do.

Update (17/06): I’ve altered it slightly. It now reads dually bitterly and with praise. Choose which you prefer.

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About Jack
A small-time traveller in a big-time world

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