Not in our name

December 13, 2012

Regarding "Words louder than action" (Letters, 6 December). In it, Chris Pearson, director of human resources at Queen Mary, University of London, welcomes the decision by the University and College Union to cancel strike action at the institution. He writes that Queen Mary "had dates in the diary" for meetings, describes how "we" view appraisals and assures readers: "We think it's simply our duty, as employers, to be as clear as we can with colleagues about expectations wherever we can."

In Pearson's short letter, the royal "we" occurs 11 times.

Acting both individually and collectively, we, the undersigned, dissociate ourselves from Pearson's remarks. They are in error.

We defend the right of any individual to express his or her personal opinion. Unfortunately, Pearson presumes to write on behalf of Queen Mary, which means that he claims to write for us. He does not. We have not given him permission to speak on our behalf: indeed, he has not requested it. If he did, we would not grant it.

One aim of the Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) is to "maintain the principle of institutional autonomy, to encourage academic self-government and to ensure that the function of managerial and administrative staff is that of facilitating teaching and research".

The urgent need for the adoption of CDBU's recommendations is amply illustrated by a member of support staff having the audacity to claim the role of spokesman for an entire academic institution.

We suggest that there is just one person qualified for such a role: the college principal.

John F. Allen, professor of biochemistry; Brendan Curran, senior lecturer in genetics; Adrian Dobbs, senior lecturer in synthetic chemistry; Norbert Krauss, senior lecturer in structural biology; Jon Nield, lecturer and principal research fellow; and Ralf Stanewsky, professor of neurobiology, Queen Mary, University of London

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