Boycott Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell's visit to SoSS

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To the attention of students of the School of Social Sciences, the President and Vice-Chancellor, the Head of the School of Social Sciences,

The President and Vice-Chancellor Nancy Rothwell will be making her annual visit to the School of Social Sciences on Monday 16th April and we have been asked to attend in good numbers. However, given her position with regard to the ongoing strikes, we propose a boycott of this meeting.

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We want to demonstrate our discontent and disagreement with the University administration’s poor handling of the situation with respect to the pension scheme. We at the SoSS have been heavily affected by the loss of contact hours especially as most of our courses are discussion-based and require a constant engagement with the teaching staff. Other faculties within the University were not affected similarly by the strike. For us in Social Sciences, however, the vast majority of students had weeks of classes cancelled. Nonetheless, the Vice-Chancellor met with students from other Schools who suffered less disruption, and showed no regard for our plight. However, no stakeholders from within the University administration have made any attempt to contact students at SoSS to clarify the situation or ask for our concerns. This upcoming visit is a regular annual occurrence and would have happened regardless of strike disruption. Her hitherto neglect for our distress does not motivate us to use our precious time to attend what would most likely be a sterile discussion.

During this confusing period, we have relied solely on our individual professors for updates and information and as the only medium through which we could voice our grievances. In her statement issued at the end of February, the Vice-Chancellor reassured us that our degree progression would not be challenged – however, more strike action is planned for the remaining weeks of teaching/grading. This entire semester has been marred by a lack of clarity and communication about the timescale and progression of our academic careers. We do not believe it is the academic staff’s responsibility to mitigate the issues that have affected students so harshly.

In her statement, students’ wellbeing was presented as the primary concern. The suggestion was to use savings from strikes for students’ benefits, but any concrete proposal has failed to materialize thus far. Therefore, any meeting at this point is too little, too late. It is one of her primary duties to connect with the most affected groups in the student community.    

For these reasons, we invite all students of the SoSS to support our boycott of this purely ceremonial meeting which is unlikely to foster any constructive dialogue about the issue at hand.


 *This statement has been written by Sariyah Mohammed and Cosimo Mati, third-year Politics & IR students with the support of their peers. The views expressed in this petition are ours and do not necessarily reflect the SoSS staff’s stance.