Will HMC accusers stand up? 1

November 14, 2003

I am alarmed at the accusations and innuendoes surrounding Harris Manchester College, Oxford, and its principal Ralph Waller. What began as a legitimate complaint by disgruntled graduates and their backers about the decision to scrap history appears to have become a crusade to besmirch the character of Waller and, indirectly, the reputation of the college.

The leaking of highly confidential material ("Oxford college in survival fight", THES , September 24) suggests a "hidden agenda". Why can't these complainers come out into the open and state their case to past and present college members?

What are they really complaining about: the scrapping of history or the college's alleged dire financial troubles? According to unsolicited emails being circulated to us, the organiser claims The THES investigation highlighted other worrying issues.

To quote: "It looks as if HMC may have started to move away from its original brief - to offer opportunities to mature students to study for a first degree at Oxford."

The organiser points out that "we have attempted to obtain assurances as to the continued viability of Harris Manchester and an ongoing commitment to wider access to higher education for mature students at Oxford. We have received no such assurances. The only person with the authority to investigate the background to this worrying situation is the visitor, Sir Eric Anderson." Interestingly, even the visitor claims that the shadowy campaigners are mistaken.

Victor Lal
Former president, Harris Manchester College Junior Common Room

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