In an exclusive interview with our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), Professor Gordon Lapping of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies has spoken frankly about the need for academics to “stand up and be counted”.
Lapping said he’d been “moved to action” by a number of developments. He instanced the treatment of Thomas Docherty, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Warwick, who has now been banned from the Warwick campus for the past nine months, even though the university management had still to provide any public account of the reasons for “such McCarthyite treatment”.
His concerns had also been raised by an article in Times Higher Education by Fred Inglis, honorary professor of cultural history at the University of Warwick, which had lamented the manner in which the current pusillanimity of academics was preventing their “noticing that the end of the world is nigh”.
The final straw had been an essay by novelist and historian Marina Warner in the London Review of Books in which she described her recent decision to resign from the University of Essex as prompted by the spectacle of arrogant and ignorant managers imposing their will upon academics in a manner that reminded her of the world of Chinese communist corporatism.
It was for these reasons, said Professor Lapping, that he had decided to stage “a radical personal protest”. At precisely midday this Friday he intends to stand directly behind the university’s principal cooling tower and make a clear-cut V-sign in the direction of the vice-chancellor’s office.
Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, said that he was unable to comment as, according to his records, Professor Lapping had long ago been banned from the campus for his persistent failure “to salute senior managers”.
Hello, good morning and welcome
A new “student welcoming programme” is to be introduced at Poppleton following the recent analysis by research consultancy YouthSight, which found a strong correlation between students’ perception of their university in their first month and the likelihood of their dropping out at a later stage.
Our Deputy Head of Student Experience, Nancy Harbinger, announced that this year’s new student arrivals would no longer be herded into large unventilated rooms and made to wait for over half an hour before being required to listen to an unnamed academic telling them that they were no longer at school and so must stand on their own two feet and find their own way to the library.
There would also be additional proactive measures. Large illuminated signs would inform new students of the ready availability of suicide counselling services, and academics who still enjoyed the use of their own teeth would be encouraged to smile at any young person they failed to recognise.
Ms Harbinger also confirmed that this year’s new arrivals would all sport a distinctive “L” badge. This would replace the traditional yellow armband that had been abandoned on the grounds of “historical sensitivity”.
Thought for the week
(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)
This week’s seminar will be addressed by a senior member of the administrative staff from the University of Plymouth who will clarify the current position of the vice-chancellor and the chair of governors and the acting chair of governors. Venue: The Personal Development Suite. Time: 7pm to midnight.