Rally Report and Campaign Update 13/12/23

Dear members,
A lot happened last week, so here is a report from our event and the student protest. Please find below also an update on our upcoming actions, most urgently the need to vote in the consultative e-ballot by 12 NOON on Thursday 14 December, and how to support the campaign. Thanks!
– Report from ‘Stop the SHAM cuts’ launch rally and student protest on 6 Dec 2023
Brookes UCU organised a very well attended event on campus last week with 80 people present from both the staff and student community. Dr Jo Grady (General Secretary, UCU) spoke passionately about what is happening at Brookes and around the country in terms of terrible managerial decisions and attacks on the arts and humanities. Aberdeen and Stafforshire universities are also facing redundancies at the moment, and we witnessed large redundancies earlier this year at Brighton, Liverpool, and Goldsmiths, for example. Jo pledged to help and support the campaign through a national fund for campaigning, as well as the national strike fund, if things had to sadly get to that stage. We are not alone, and we will not fight this alone, was the key message.
Members of our negotiating team updated us on the very frustrating obstacles, delays and challenges they are facing when asking management for clarifications and rectifications due to problematic calculations.
A very eloquent student representative of the Save Our Lecturers campaign spoke and reported from their communication with management, which left students feeling patronised and ridiculed, and even more angry against the decisions which, in spite of management’s claims, will necessarily affect them, especially postgraduate cohorts, which seem to be always be scandalously forgotten, in spite of the unique and long-term contribution they make to our institution.
Dr Barbara Eichner (Reader in Music), Prof Alex Goody (English and Creative Writing), and Dr Tom Chambers (Senior Lecturer in Anthropology) made emotional and powerful pleas for supporting them as directly affected staff. They related specific info about the research and pedagogical merits of their departments, and why these cuts are morally shameful, financially challengeable, and ridiculously shortsighted.
Chris Jarvis, Oxford City councillor and Leader of the Green Party Group, spoke first as an alumnus of the Brookes MA History cohort, and reminded us of the value of providing education to local students, in small cohorts, who otherwise would not be able to attend university. The decisions to cut staff and close departments directly affects Brookes’s ability to carry out this social mission of resisting an increasingly elitist university offer. We need to keep post-1992s teaching arts and humanities! Let’s not go back in time, again! Sadly, these cuts are ideological, and another symptom of a short-sighted and managerially quantified neoliberal society.
On the same day, students from the Save Our Lecturers campaign staged a sit-in protest inside JHB forum. You can read a report of the protest here. Thank you so much to the students who are leading the way in terms of campaigning against these cuts!
– The Brookes UCU consultative e-ballot will close at 12 noon on Thursday 14 December. Don’t forget to vote! We have requested access to UCU’s national strike fund in case our ballot returned a vote in favour of industrial action in the new year. If action is decided, there will be financial support for it.
– Wednesday 13 December: STUDENT PROTEST IN JHB FORUM AT 12PM! This is the students’ last chance to get attention before everyone leaves, go support them!
– Students are also lobbying students to contact the SU to voice how they are affected by the cuts, and show their support for the campaign, as otherwise the SU cannot do much in terms of support for us.
– The Branch is meeting on Thursday 14 Dec to discuss the results of the e-ballot consultation.
– The Branch’s campaigns officer (Maia) is meeting reps from other branches facing cuts (e.g. Aberdeen, Staffordshire) on Thursday 14 Dec (organised by UCU national and Jo Grady)
– ‘DON’T LEAVE STUDENT RECRUITMENT TO THE MARKET!’ We are contacting Oxford MPs Anneliese Dodds and Layla Moran to launch a campaign to re-introduce some kind of targeting and planning of student recruitment at national level to protect universities like ours from suffering unfairly from student recruitment problems. Please support this by also writing to your MP and demanding that student recruitment is not just left to market competition. We are working on providing a template for this, so we will be back in touch about this.
– We are continuing to seek support from the Chancellor Patterson Joseph, who spoke on Twitter about gathering information before making a statement. We hope to hear from him this week and will continue to lobby him.
– We are also requesting minutes from the Board of Governors meetings when the cuts were discussed.