GUCU Teach-out Conduct Motion

Passed at GUCU Branch Meeting, 17 Nov 2021 

This branch notes:

  1. That Goldsmiths UCU (GUCU) runs a collaborative teach-out series during strike action that so far has lacked a uniform code of conduct and a set of organising principles. 
  2. That the teach-out series is usually planned, organised, and logistically run by a small number of staff (who are majority Black, PoC, women, queer, trans and non-binary, and precarious) and by student activists and sabbatical officers.
  3. That the organisers listed above have repeatedly raised the following issues – GUCU members have created a burden of work for all those involved as well as for SU staff, campus workers, and various students activists; GUCU members have treated workers, students, and fellow GUCU organisers badly throughout the process and previous strikes; that some GUCU members who have joined the organising team have treated others in the team poorly; that the work that goes into organising teach-out spaces has been unacknowledged and invisibilized; that students have raised concerns around student-staff solidarity being one-sided.
  4. That the issues raised by organisers of teach-outs, students, and sabbatical officers have been ignored in GUCU meetings (including student-staff assembly in strikes), belittled openly, and not adequately addressed.
  5. That the SU staff have compiled a document that details the ways in which GUCU members have behaved during previous strikes (2019 and 2020) and how they have treated students and SU staff poorly. 
  6. That very few teach-out spaces organised by GUCU members are student-lead or student centred and many GUCU members have suggested or carried out teach-outs that are a repetition of their academic work and repeatedly ignored student-led teach outs.
  7. That only teach-out spaces run by students and a few colleagues (majority Black and PoC, queer, trans and non-binary, and precarious colleagues) have followed any code of conduct and nurtured student-staff solidarity. 
  8. That staff and GUCU members need to actively support student-led spaces and teach-outs and treat students, sabbatical officers, SU staff, and teach-out organising members with respect, equality, and dignity.
  9. That unless organised with anti-racist and feminist principles and disability justice in mind, teach-out spaces replicate the ableist, marginalising and exclusionary spaces of the university.
  10. That we cannot have student-staff solidarity without addressing these concerns and listening to GUCU members, students, and sabbatical officers who have been raising them consistently. 

This branch believes: 

  1. That teach-out spaces should be run in line with the collective organising principles put together by Goldsmiths Community Solidarity (GCS), an alliance of students, staff, and community members collectively organising in Goldsmiths and Lewisham. These principles are ever-evolving and need to be re-visited regularly. 
  2. That teach-outs should be primarily student-led and student focussed and not a repetition of academic work and lectures by staff. 
  3. That teach-outs should focus on political education, liberation, justice and a radical re-imagining of teaching and learning. 
  4. That the wellbeing and safety of SU staff, students, sabbatical officers and campus workers should be a priority during the organisation and delivery of teach-outs. 
  5. That GUCU members leading teach-outs should be responsible for figuring out the tech support they need, running their teach-outs, and following pandemic guidelines in all these spaces. 
  6. That GUCU members should leave any room they use in the state it was found, putting back chairs and tables and any furniture used.
  7. That GUCU members leading teach-outs should not ask students sitting in the SU to move or to take away chairs from them but instead try and involve these students in the teach-out and inform them about the strikes with patience and respect. 
  8. That GUCU members leading or attending teach-outs should not make demands of sabbatical officers and SU staff,  treat them with respect, and be mindful when asking for their labour. 
  9. That GUCU members should listen to the concerns raised by teach-out organising groups, students and sabbatical officers, SU staff and address them in order to nurture student-staff solidarity. 
  10. That GUCU members leading teach-outs should be responsible for creating an inclusive and accessible space where they should be mindful and attentive to power dynamics and their social location at all times. 
  11. That respect must be shown to campus workers, especially colleagues and students whose labour is invisibilized and minoritised. 
  12. That the exploitation and/or dismissal of labour of minoritised and casualised campus workers and staff working on/delivering the teach-outs will not be tolerated. 
  13. That the exploitation and/or dismissal of labour of Black and PoC staff and students, particularly women and non-binary members, working on/delivering the teach-outs will not be tolerated.  

This branch resolves: 

  1. To prioritise student-led activities in the teach-out programme and focus on the themes outlined above. 
  2. To actively support student-led activities in the teach-out programme and include/speak to all students in the SU. 
  3. To be as self-sufficient as possible in delivering teach-outs and not demand the labour of teach-out organising team, students, sabbatical officers, and SU staff.
  4. To treat all students, campus workers, sabbatical officers, teach-out programme organisers and SU staff with respect and dignity and listen to and address their concerns that have been raised for the last few years.
  5. To circulate this motion as a code of conduct alongside the collective organising principles put together by Goldsmiths Community Solidarity (GCS) to union members and staff ahead of the planned teach-outs.
  6. To adhere to these principles and motion at all times. 
  7. To keep a record of any harmful behaviour by GUCU members in teach-out spaces during the upcoming strike using an incident book. 
  8. To challenge and take seriously harmful and/or extractive behaviour towards minoritised students, campus workers, staff and sabbatical officers and actually nurture student-staff solidarity in practice.