Do better, Feelbetter 1

July 22, 2010

The advice dispensed in the Blog Confidential columns has been so consistently obsequious - "take care, keep your head down, do nothing" - that Dr Margot Feelbetter could only be a representative of Poppleton University. But isn't this nonsense getting beyond a joke?

I have no idea whether the letters published in the column are authentic, but if their tales of corruption, bullying, exploitation, harassment and discrimination hint at genuine anxieties among academics today, universities face a crisis more profound than any funding squeeze. Such a predicament would be greatly aggravated, not averted, by the guidance proffered. After all, how could systemic problems be redressed by small-minded self-interest and stifling paranoia?

As educators, we are expected to have principles that uphold individual dignity and collegial integrity. But we must also have the courage to apply them. Margot's maxim of "say nothing, do nothing" fails to make anyone "feel better"; it has no place in any publication that "loves" higher education.

Katy Hayward, Queen's University, Belfast.

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