Appalled by AUT on Ellis

June 2, 2006

I was appalled by Leeds University's craven capitulation to the vociferous and increasingly sanctimonious attackers of Frank Ellis and his views, but I am equally appalled by Gavin Reid's intemperate comments about Ellis at the Association of University Teachers meeting ("Council calls for Ellis to be sacked", May 19). For a professional body to allow such inflammatory rhetoric to remain unrebuked suggests that the meeting was a despicable orgy of self-righteousness.

Given that earlier in the controversy Roger Kline of lecturers' union Natfhe claimed that Ellis had failed in his duty to "care" for his students, I am now deeply pessimistic about the merger of the two teaching unions. After 17 years of loyal membership, I won't be joining the new one.

"Caring" and "teaching" are not synonyms and, sadly, "learning" is not always a painless process (that's indoctrination). If Ellis's views are as intellectually unsound as his detractors insist, then surely an undergraduate of even modest abilities should be able to cogently and persuasively disagree with them in a presentation or in an essay.

The students might have learnt something important from such an exercise; instead, they learnt that views that clash with the prevailing orthodoxy will not be tested in vigorous intellectual debate but instead will beruthlessly suppressed.

Kevin McCarron London

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