Claire Locke, president-elect of London Met students’ union, received the email today from Clive Jones, the chairman of the board of governors, who is a former chairman of GMTV and senior ITV executive.
The email came in response to an open letter she sent to Malcolm Gillies, London Met’s vice-chancellor, in which she expressed concern about student representation and the institution’s handling of a recent protest against course closures.
The message reads: “Malcolm, Logical, but tricky. Kill her with information and kindness. C.”
Ms Locke said the email had left her in “complete shock”.
“I’m really concerned that the university is planning to do something to either discredit me or to get me out of the post. It is an attack on the students’ union.”
She added: “I would never expect somebody of that level to behave like that.”
The email exchange will worsen already troubled relations between London Met’s senior management and its students and staff.
Professor Gillies has announced a plan to shut down a swathe of courses including history, philosophy, performing arts and modern languages.
Students on the courses to be closed have been left in limbo, with the university yet to assure them that they will be able to complete their studies. Staff expect hundreds of redundancies as a result of the changes.
After receiving the unexpected message, Ms Locke emailed Professor Gillies and Mr Jones. “It appears that I am the recipient of an email that is not addressed to me,” she writes. “The content of this email has left me feeling intimidated and victimised and for this reason I have copied in the recipients of the original email.
“Can you please explain what it is that is ‘Logical, but tricky’ and why it is that you want to ‘Kill her [me] with information and kindness’?”
Mr Jones told Times Higher Education: “I am on holiday and drafted a note, which was never sent because on reflection I had not phrased my views very well.
“I inadvertently then copied it to Claire. It was entirely my fault and I have apologised unreservedly to Claire. I wanted London Met to fully inform Claire about the new appointment [of a dean of students] and explain it was not going to affect student representation at the university in any way.”