9 March 2018
Dear Pat, dear Pro-Wardens,
Goldsmiths’ ethos is one of collaboration and mutual respect, and we have appreciated the way in which you have engaged with staff so far over the current dispute on pensions. We were disappointed, however, that Academic Board went ahead last Wednesday (7 March 2018), despite the absence of many academic members and of the student members, as this cannot lead to sound decisions on academic matters, and risks suggesting an implicit split between academics and administration. We invite you therefore to suspend any meetings of Boards, Committees or Sub-Committees of the College that are scheduled on strike days.
We also hope that, in that spirit of collaboration and mutual respect, you will trust Departments to make their own plans to support students once the action has concluded, through consultation and in the way departments deem most academically appropriate for their students and programmes, while respecting the rights of members that have chosen to take industrial action.
(In alphabetical order)
Vikki Bell, Claudia Bernard, Lisa Blackman, Lucia Boldrini, Rebecca Cassidy, Henrike Donner, Kevin Jones, Betty Liebovich, Richard Noble, Simon O’Sullivan, Raj Pandey, Maggie Pitfield, Marsha Rosengarten, Anamik Saha, Astrid Schmetterling,Jasna Dragovic Soso, Joanna Zylinska
15 March 20218
I am sorry that you were disappointed that Academic Board went ahead last Wednesday. SMT spent some time considering whether main committees of Council scheduled on strike days should go ahead as planned. We concluded that they should do so because of the difficulties with re-scheduling prior to Council on 12th April, bearing in mind how many days in March were being lost to strike action, and because our Standing Orders make provision for decisions to be made in the absence of a quorum. I made it clear to members of Academic Board who did attend that while, in line with our Standing Orders, any decisions would be deemed Chair’s decision taken on the advice of the members present, in practice I would expect to circulate the full Board for comments on any non-routine matters before ratifying any urgent decisions. Any non-routine issues which were also non-urgent would be deferred to the next meeting. In the event, no items before Academic Board fell into these categories, and the meeting was brief. The Students’ Union had previously indicated that they would attend, and notice that they would not was not received until after the start of the meeting. The detailed comments they supplied indicated that they expected that the meeting would proceed.
As an SMT we are very clear that the decisions on how to ensure students do not suffer detriment as a result of industrial action must rest at Departmental level, and this view has informed the work of the Strike Mitigation Working Group (SMWG). We do, however, have a number of reasons for requesting that Departments supply information on how this is being achieved for detailed review by that Group. We have a responsibility to ensure parity of treatment for all students across the College; we need to ensure that alternative provision meets the requirement of the QAA Code; we need to ensure that requirements which need to be met centrally are communicated (such as suspension of regulations); we need to make sure we are aware of any central resourcing requirements are identified and, where appropriate, prioritised (such as pressure on timetabled space); and we need to make sure we have a comprehensive log of mitigations to support us as we deal with the many student complaints we are receiving, so that these may be dealt with fairly. I very much hope that you will remain supportive of members of the SMWG as they carry out this work.
Goldsmiths, University of London