As it runs a ballot (closing 4 November) for industrial action over job cuts, the University and College Union (UCU) at Goldsmiths university in London is gathering wider support.
An Open Letter to Frances Corner (the top manager at Goldsmiths), signed by over 3,000 alumni, academics, local community and other supporters of the UCU, including novelists, artists and so on, was covered by the Observer on 24 October.
The letter highlights the fact that the cuts in Professional Services and to English and History are only the first round. Goldsmiths has a number of groundbreaking areas of specialist study and research which could be trashed by the current management. These include the Centre for Caribbean and Diaspora Studies, the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, the Decadence Research Centre, the Centre for Comparative Literature, the Centre for the Study of the Balkans, the Centre of the Body, and the Centre for Queer History.
The cuts at Goldsmiths are part of a broader Government drive to shrink Arts and Humanities. The fight at Goldsmiths will be key to asserting the importance of critical thinking, diversity, and humanism.
Meanwhile the UCU is working hard in the next week to get all members to vote, and to vote yes for strike and action short of strike in the ballot. Outdoor rallies are being held every Friday, staff-student assemblies are planned and testimonials for threatened staff, especially frontline admin staff, are being gathered. A campaign to get support among students is going to become very important.
Goldsmiths managers are rattled. Last week they published a page on the college website to dispute the necessity of action. They have very little credibility. Staff and students know no course and no department at Goldsmiths is safe from the cuts.
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