The ceiling will cave in

May 30, 1997

I HAVE read with some concern the case of Gill Evans at the University of Cambridge and her long fight for an objective and transparent promotion procedure for all academic colleagues (THES, May 9). I do not envy her the demoralising task of tracing a thread of justice through the labyrinth of ancient statutes, courts, senates, regents, visitors and commissaries in which certain academics entangle their personal and political interests (and vendettas) designed to induce conformity and subservience.

My concern is that these sad male souls who choose to while away their state-funded careers blocking, deflecting and discriminating against almost invariably female colleagues such as Dr Evans are being joined by administrators with an assumed authority previously withheld. This is a worrying trend. As the lines of academic and administrative authority merge how can we guarantee that academic freedom and particularly standards are being safeguarded even at this our premier university?

Dr Evans may perceive some flattery in the credit for the changes (claimed by an administrator) she has effected to date. Her case signals the need for a radical root and branch reform throughout these institutions in order that the historical overgrowth of closeted agreements are no longer allowed to masquerade as "tradition" in stifling equal opportunity. An open, accountable process is too long overdue: when it comes, we will have lone voices such as Dr Evans to thank. Let us hope it does not come too late for justice for her.

James Carruthers

Dartmouth Park Hill, London N19

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