Tuesday 25 May 2010

New Statesman on Middlesex

Another article on the goings on at Middlesex, this time on the New Statesman website.

I felt compelled to post this comment:
In recent days I have begun to think this but now I am completely convinced: The only possible next step for the resistance to this decision and its aftermath is legal action against the administration.

The administration has made clear that there are no depths it will not stoop to in order to crush entirely peaceful dissent. It is willing to evade, delay, go to the High Court, spread disinformation, lie and even suspend (and, it seems likely, expel) entirely innocent staff and students with no semblance of due process or reason (let alone justice) whatsoever. Brian Leiter commented on his blog that this sort of behaviour from an institution in the US would result in law suits being filed - and won. John Protevi in his email to the administrators mentioned the possibility of financial, legal and political action from the relevant professional organisations.

It might be about time for philosophers and other concerned citizens to put their hands in their pockets and set up a legal fund (particularly for the cases of students who may be expelled but also for resisting the closure as a whole).

So long as this fight remains legally asymmetrical (i.e. one side have lawyers and the other side don't) it will continue to be a situation where the big institution can unilaterally bully and intimidate with impunity. It is sad that protest alone is so impotent without establishing legal connections but that is how it is, it seems.

Also, a petition should be formed and circulated allowing people to declare that they are completely and totally boycotting Middlesex until the decision is reversed, students and staff are reinstated and unequivocal apologies are issued (if there is no such thing set up already). They haven't responded to countless declarations of outrage but they might respond to being told that a whole swarm of senior academics won't have anything to do with the "University" for the rest of their careers and will do everything in their power to discourage others from doing so if they don't retreat from their present position.

Philosophy at Middlesex is not the first case of this kind and it won't be the last but it could well be a tipping point. The fight simply must be won.