Blogconfidential: The horror, the horror...

Each week, Dr Margot Feelbetter poses a dilemma and offers advice for readers to respond to online. This week: The horror, the horror...

April 14, 2011

Over the past few months, several of us at our university have been publicising the cuts to higher education, along with local and national responses. We have distributed posters around the campus and it has been very encouraging to see that so many students are motivated to help.

However, something has occurred that has been a little worrying. Several of us put up information about what is happening on our office doors only to find that when we arrived at work the following morning they had been taken down. We checked with cleaning staff, who were as confused as we were.

This went on for several weeks - we put the posters up, someone took them down, we put them up, and so on. We even asked security to let us view camera tapes, needless to say nothing in the offing there.

One evening when I was working late I overheard someone outside my door. I rushed over to find our academic lead in the process of removing an anti-cuts poster. I was about to reprimand him but the look on his face was such a picture. For a split second all the vulnerability in the world was captured in that expression of horror. He had taken the poster off and was about to dispose of it when I said (without thinking): "Put it back!" He immediately returned it to my door without saying anything and rushed away - it was quite a surreal moment.

I mentioned it to my colleagues in the morning. They all want to blow the whistle on him, but I think he has learned his lesson. I really don't want to make any more waves. All our posters remain on the wall, so we have won, right?

I am not sure I agree with you. What a snivelling little rat this individual is, undertaking his political work behind your back. He is an absolute creep and needs exposure to anyone and everyone. You have the courage to make clear statements in transparent and open ways and I say well done!

There is "something of the night about him" (as someone once said about a political figure). He seems devious, quietly malicious and intentionally provocative. He does not have enough courage to discuss matters openly with you, but in his weasel ways goes about his politics in the shadows and behind the scenes. What else is he doing that you do not know about?

I suggest that you type out a poster and put it on the outside of your door explaining that you would appreciate it if he did not remove them in the future. I think that will make matters very clear. Things are going to get very tough over the next few months and I think we all need to stand up and be counted - that includes all those academics who have their "comfort blanket" research grants and have lapsed into inertia.

We have to struggle to make sure we don't just become institutions for educational consumption. That sometimes means that we have to make a clear distinction between the people we can count on and those who, for whatever reason, choose a different path.

Email your dilemmas to margot.feelbetter@tsleducation.com

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