Laurie Taylor Column

April 23, 2004

"Universities are deeply embedded in... managerialism and are just about the last place where you might encounter dissenting opinions" - Geoff Andrews, THES , April 16.

Ah, Mr Odgers. Welcome to the staff disciplinary committee. Please take a seat. Directly under the light. You have been summoned under Article 6 of our new Constitution, which forbids all behaviour incompatible with the university's strategic managerial goals of consensus, teamwork and cooperation. Let me turn to specifics. In January, a letter from you about the alleged illegality of the Iraq invasion was published in The Times ?

It was.

You publicly associated the University of Poppleton with a controversial position?

If other people at Poppleton disagreed, they had the right to say so.

You are seriously suggesting others should have followed your example? This is dangerous individualism. Always remember, Mr Odgers, that there is no 'I' in 'team'. I also understand that on several occasions you raised doubts about the Iraq invasion in the senior common room.

That's true .

And thereby further jeopardised the staff consensus that is such a critical element in realising our future goals.

I was only exercising my right to freedom of speech.

Good heavens, Mr Odgers. Neither myself, nor the Bursar, nor the three other members of this committee who represent local business, have anything against freedom of speech. Heavens, no. Our concern is only with the context in which that freedom is exercised. In your case, you have used the inappropriate contexts of the popular press and the SCR. You will therefore be fined three increments.

But where on earth is the appropriate context?

That has now been designated. You'll find it on the far side of the staff car park, opposite Nelson Mandela College. One last thing, Odgers. If you opt for that.

Yes.

Not too loud. There's a good chap.

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