Stop false rhetoric 1

June 8, 2007

Many of us who were members of the Association of University Teachers in the 1970s supported its decision to become a trade union under the law of the land. Hitherto, it had been a professional association, somewhat like the British Medical Association.

I wonder whether we were wise. Now, as the UCU, it has developed its own internal momentum of trade union posturing, the call for a boycott of Israel being only the latest egregious example, and yet has achieved little in improving the standard of living for academic and related staff over the past 25 years.

Many of us engaged in teaching, research and administration have neither the time nor the inclination to try to help cure it of the absurd view of the world embraced apparently by the majority of its activists.

Perhaps it is time for serious academics to call for the re-creation of a professional association whose main aim would be to secure the standard of living, terms and conditions of its members and leave deeply divisive, contentious political issues to others less committed to the academic enterprise and the time commitments it requires.

David-Hillel Ruben
University of London

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