Its been a little while since I let out a good blog!! This isn’t because of a lack of reasons to get on the proverbial soapbox and have a good rant, but because I have just been a busy bee, so for that I apologies. To make up for it, this will be the first of two posts today. Lets start with getting this pile of horse off my chest!
Late Last week it hit the press that a group of history undergraduates had organised a series of “student-led lectures” that caused controversy by replacing any lectures that had been canceled due to the ongoing strike action the teaching staff were taking due to their working pay and contracts. The group who had organised the lectures stated that their “objective is not ideological but rather seeks to address the concerns of students who are missing lectures on which they will be examined”
The lectures were delivered by students who had previously taken the modules and knew the subject. They delivered the lectures to students who would have been taught if not for the strike disruptions. Normally students taking the initiative and action to teach themselves and take part in independent learning should be praised, but unfortunately, in this situation, these actions have been used as a political message and those involved have been accused of “Strike Breaking”
One of the organisers was quoted in the press defending the initiative: “If a friend of mine had happened to take a module last year that I currently study and had gone over with me the topic of a lecture I had missed due to a strike, his help would not constitute ‘anti-strike behaviour. This is exactly what we are doing, only on a larger and more universal scale.”
Now I have to agree with the first part of his statement, a friend helping a friend is one thing and I personally have no problem with this, its normal and I know I did it when I was studying my degree, helping out my peers in subjects they didn’t understand and in return they would support me in the areas of work I was weak in. It’s the latter part of this that has rubbed many up the wrong way…”A larger and more universal scale.” That my friend is strike Breaking.
A colleague of mine and an elected student representative was less than impressed with these replacement lectures. She felt they showed a lack of respect to university staff.
“Unfair pay and an increasing reliance on casual, short-term contracts for teaching staff fundamentally devalues the contribution tutors make to our university education. I understand that it is disappointing to miss a contact hour, but to camouflage what might otherwise be interpreted as a laudable action under the auspices of campaigning for ‘our fees’ and ‘our experience’ is infuriatingly selfish.”
I don’t think I could have put it better myself. By all means, help your friends out. It must be frustrating missing contact hours when you are just trying to get on with your education. But don’t cross a picket line and undermine your fellow students (Post Grads who teach if you didn’t know lecturers could also be students!!) and staff for your own political self-righteous gains!
I cant help but feel that the lectures would be less controversial if they had been put on when things had calmed down and weren’t so politically charged. Doing them in the middle of the strike action is nothing more than a political statement that undercuts all the work that these teaching staff and students have done so far to fight for fair pay.
Just in case you needed any more proof that what was happening here was nothing more than a political statement, Katie Hopkins took to twitter to jump on the bandwagon:
The same colleague of mine that spoke out against these lectures further up this post made it extremely clear how she felt about Hopkins’ “Let’s face it, when Katie Hopkins praises you on Twitter, alarm bells should start to sound.”
If you want to help and get teaching staff back in the lecture halls, why not take a stand of solidarity and lobby the Vice-chancellor to reopen the communication streams with your lectures and their unions to talk about a fair pay system?!