Monthly Archives: July 2010

Save Goldsmiths Nursery

Reposted from:

Closure makes no sense

Below are the reasons for closure put forward by Goldsmiths’ Senior Management Team.  As we have challenged each one, they have simply produced another, showing the irrationality of their decision.  We demand that the nursery provision at Goldsmiths continues to run until the time when a bigger, better and fully sustainable nursery can be built.

1/ The nursery must be subsidised by 70K per annum – WRONG
A working party set up by SMT identified 50K of savings, reducing this to 20K per year.  The nursery management staff were excluded from taking part in the working party, and no domain experts took part.  The only external member was a visitor from Greenwich college, who advised Goldsmiths to keep the nursery open and supported the working party’s findings.  It is clear that an expert consultant working in the nursery could identify other savings, perhaps reducing the subsidy to zero.

2/ There was not space in the nursery for the working party’s recommendations – WRONG
The working party’s recommendations included extending provision by three community places.  Measurements conducted by Estates clearly show that there is space for these extra places in the room under consideration.  SMT however misinterpreted these figures by including other rooms.  This misinterpretation was wilful, as the error was pointed out by a working party member prior to the announcement of closure, but disregarded.  Further, the figures were never sent to OFSTED for consideration as was promised.

3/ The nursery only supports a tiny fraction of parents through 23 places; users are a ‘privileged few’ – WRONG
The nursery actually supports around 30 children, due to the flexible part time provision.  Of these several children have two parents who are staff/students at goldsmiths.  The exact figures are unknown by SMT who have not investigated the number of student and staff parents at Goldsmiths.  However the nursery is estimated to support 15-20% of all student and staff parents with children at nursery age.  This could be improved but is a highly significant and highly valued provision.

4/ The subsidy could be better spent elsewhere – WRONG
Parents need on-site provision so that they can breast feed, arrive at work and lectures in a timely manner and reach their child quickly in emergencies.  Students in general do not need money for childcare — of the current users 75% have their nursery fees paid for by the state.  It is impossible to imagine what kind of provision the college could provide apart from an on-site nursery — a creche would be next to useless for staff and most students, who need more than an hour or two here and there. A campus nursery is also best placed to meet the needs of students and staff as it is able to cater for sessional use. By contrast private nurseries charge (often at full cost) for holiday periods and occasional daily use.

5/ Building a new, larger nursery is untenable – WRONG
Recent investigations by SMT have found that a new, much larger nursery could be built and supported by economy of scale.  This makes it clear that the earlier attempt at a build in 2006 was naive, as SMT have themselves admitted.  The chosen site was unsuitable, a result of not consulting properly with anyone with experience in either construction or of nursery provision.

6/ The nursery has been subject to long, detailed review – WRONG
The construction attempt in 2006 was hopelessly naive.  This was followed by an outsourcing attempt that was doomed to failure, giving providers only a couple of months to find places for 30 children — showing complete lack of knowledge of the market, where quality care is already oversubscribed.  The later working party was greatly lacking in domain expertise, but nonetheless came up with highly constructive recommendations which were disregarded by SMT without proper investigation.  Domain experts in Goldsmiths, including John Wadsworth with extensive experience as nursery teacher and OFSTED nursery inspector, have not been consulted throughout the process, and see no justification for closing the nursery.

7/ The unions and users will not consider any alternative until the nursery is closed – WRONG
No alternative has yet been proposed and so cannot be considered.  The parent users have however been open to suggestions, including a business plan for cost neutrality put forward by nursery management staff.

8/ The impact on equality has been assessed – WRONG
The equality assessment produced by SMT is profoundly lacking, not considering the full impact on current users, and not considering the impact on staff or future users at all.  Building a new, larger nursery, subsidised by College would benefit equal opportunities, but closing down current provision and providing no continuity with the new project goes against all equality of opportunity.  It exposes SMT’s review process since 2006 and raises the question of real motive.

9/ The nursery must close due to lack of DDA compliance – WRONG
This was an early claim by SMT, but if it were true, much of the University would have to close tomorrow.  This is an issue for the college as a whole, but is not by any stretch a reason for closure of the nursery.  The current nursery building is not ideal, although OFSTED found no issue with it in their highly positive reporting of the nursery.

10/ ‘It’s not about money’ (Warden Pat Loughrey, 18 June 2010)
What is it about?  If all the evidence points to an on-site nursery as the best childcare provision the College can offer, if the subsidy can be brought down towards zero, if interested parties and domain experts are willing to be involved in making current provision more viable and more available, if we agree that the nursery is crucial to promoting equal opportunities, if the Campaign to keep it open keeps growing in numbers and strength, what is it all about?

11/  The campaign to save the nursery is motivated by a small group of parents wanting to keep their privilege – WRONG
Some of the most active people in this campaign won’t have their children in Goldsmiths nursery next year any way -either for various personal reasons or because their children will be too old for nursery. The commitment of present parents to save the nursery comes from their experience of the service provided and their awareness of its importance for past and future generations of students and staff. Furthermore the campaign has full support from the Students Union, UCU and UNISON, who together represent the interests of all students and staff in the college and not only those with kids in the nursery.

12/ The current nursery users have found alternative provision – WRONG

Many parent nursery users are now faced with leaving their jobs, curtailing their studies, giving up studentships and postdocs and associated research council funding.  Some have found alternative nursery provision though making major life changes at short notice and risking unsettling their child’s development.  Student services promised parents a list of places in local nurseries some weeks ago but this has not been forthcoming — probably because the places do not exist.  Desperate parents have been promised phonecalls by student services only to find they have gone on holiday without fulfilling their promise.  Further, as far as we know, those on the Goldsmiths nursery waiting list who hoped to start their child at nursery in September have not been offered help.

See http://savegoldsmithsnursery.org/ for more.

Heidelberg Talk 6 August 2010

As part of the  workshop STEREOTYPING, DOMESTICATING ANDINVENTING POPULAR MUSICS IN/OF ASIA, a talk called:
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“Stereotypes that Are Knocked Down just Get Up again: Music and Repetition in World War Three”
by John Hutnyk
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Stereotypes are nasty. Despite critique of the often evident simplifications involved, knocking them down can tend to reinforce them. This has been the case with the controversy, somewhat contrived, that surrounds Sri Lankan rapper Maya Arulpragasam’s recent Romain Gavras-made video promo for her track ‘Born Free’, from the new MIA album /\/\/\Y/\. Consideration of transliteration and repetitions in music – from Edgar Varese’s (mis)understanding of Hinduism, through Adorno and Twelve Tone, the work of Zappa, South Asian Hip Hop, up to Slavoj Žižek’s appreciation of Freudian witticisms – can set the political context of the track in relief. In the video the reference is to immigration crack-downs in the USA; on the album the association is with Sri Lankan army execution of Tamils. Can we think music (musicology, hip hop scholarship, pop) without addressing a wider syncopation? The predicament of Samina Malik, the UK’s ‘lyrical terrorist’, arrested in 2007, will also be noted.

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9.30am Friday August 6th 2010
Karl Jaspers Centre, Conference Room 212
Voßstr. 2, Building 4400, 69115 Heidelberg
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Free Admission.
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FB group where you can follow discussions:

Mr Pip

Radio New Zealand, 26 July 2010

Hopes Mister Pip movie will be filmed on Bougainville

Posted at 03:32 on 26 July, 2010 UTC
An actor and dramatist in Papua New Guinea says many locals are hoping the film, Mister Pip, to be shot on location in Bougainville.
Auditions for the roles have begun in Solomon Islands, before heading to Port Moresby and Bougainville.
The film, based on an award winning book of the same name by New Zealand author Lloyd Jones, is set in 1991 during the decade-long Bougainville conflict.
William Takaku is helping to organise the PNG auditions, and says it will depend on the film’s budget as to whether it will be filmed on Bougainville, but he and many other locals remain hopeful.
“I hope that the movie, because its a story about Bougainville, its not going to be authentic if it is filmed in any other place rather than Bougainville. So I hope that the film’s decision will eventually be made for it to be made here on Bougainville.”
William Takaku says there’s already much excitement about the film’s potential to draw attention to Bougainville and its people.
News Content © Radio New Zealand International
PO Box 123, Wellington, New Zealand

http://www.rnzi.com/pages/news.php?op=read&id=54918

Points-Based Immigration System in Context: 16 October 2010

Points-Based Immigration System in Context: Research and Campaign Strategies
10am-6pm, Saturday 16 October 2010, University of London Union, Malet
Street, London WC1

This conference will present new research on issues related to the
points-based immigration system (PBIS) as it affects Further and Higher
Education. The conference will assess:
a) the wider significance of immigration;
b) the full consequences of PBIS;
c) the characteristics  of new systems of regulation and surveillance in
universities and colleges.

The conference aims to offer both expertise in
research but also a focus for campaigners who object to the fundamentally
discriminatory nature of the rules.

Supported by UCU, ULU, Centre for Cultural Studies, Department of
Politics, Department of Media & Communications (all at Goldsmiths)

Speakers:
Les Back (Goldsmiths)
Tom Hickey (Brighton)
Georg Menz (Goldsmiths)
Liz Fekete (Institute of Race Relations)
Edgar Whitley (LSE)
Valerie Hartwich (Manifesto Club)
Joel Heyes (UKBA worker and PCS rep)
Susan Robertson (Bristol)
Andy Goffey (Middlesex)
Su-Anne Yeo (Goldsmiths)
Clare Solomon (ULU)

Facebook event:
http://bit.ly/PBISconference

Two Docs: Jeff Kinkle and Chin Fang Chang

All smiles at CCS as two more find their way to the bar.

Super congratulations.

Who is next??

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And the line up for both the September and January ceremonies (depending on corrects/paperwork times) just gets bigger and better.

Still More Dragnets

Stopping to quiz yet another bus dragnet gang with a colleague, this time we are  referred immediately to the public relations London Transport operative ‘Dan’. This sort of discussion, reproduced below, has become a perverse kind of sport. I know it does little, and now I know the cops see public complaints as a kind of sport as well. Nevertheless, as they say in the Homeland – ‘If you see something, say something’.

A conversation between ‘Police Liaison Operative Dan’ and two unidentified subjects of the realm, designated as ‘US’:

US: ‘Why are you stopping this bus here today?’

PLOD: ‘We are arresting people without tickets, booking them for crimes’

US: ‘Is it really an arrestable crime to go without a ticket?’

PLOD: ‘Most people without tickets commit other crimes’

US: ‘So this is a kind of entrapment? You could just hand out fines’

PLOD: ‘We are keeping the buses safe.’

US: ‘They are not unsafe because people don’t have tickets. Why are these officers armed? Are those guys immigration officers?’

PLOD: ‘Look, we could be out catching terrorists in the ethnic suburbs’

US: ‘Sorry, which suburbs, how could you tell? Do they teach you about profiling?’

PLOD: ‘Oh, I know the profile very well thank you. Is there anything more I can help you with?’

US: ‘How can we make a complaint about over policing and inappropriate profiling?’

PLOD: ‘You can complain to me, Sir’

US: ‘:)’

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/about-us/freedom-of-information/released-information/foi-archive-immigration/929-immigration-checksa8cf.html?view=Html

See also here, here and here.

Methods and Ethnography

OK, asked for references twice in two days on the same thing, so started thinking what I might reread if I was going to think about methods and ethnography now:

Mitchell Duneier, “Sidewalk” – a thoughtful study of magazine vendors in New York. A bit too worthy and street, but some good stuff on doubt.

James Agee and Walker Evans; “Let us now praise famous men” – if you have not read it, get this first. Simply great. (Try to get the Violette edition, hard back, not the penguin classics ed – though that has an essay by Goldsmiths own Blake Morrison).

Michel Serres; “The Troubadour of Knowledge” – Serres is unique, thinks through parables, does not refernce, says he does not repeat. Makes stuff up, each line a gem. Dunno what its like in French!

Claude Levi-Strauss; “Tristes Tropiques” – speaking of the French – died at 101 last year. This is the classic. Then read part 2 of Derrida’s “Of Grammatology”.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; “Death of A Discipline” – between the lines of a lament for the cold war area experts who have become extinct, a plea for deep language learning that is more than just grammar.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; ‘Righting Wrongs’ from “Other Asias”.

Avital Ronell; “The Test Drive” – Ronell is perhaps the only living American currently possessed by genius, besides Gore Vidal, and she wears great hats.

Michel Foucault; “The Archeology of Knowledge” and “The Order of Things” – never to be forgotten.

Mao Zedong; ‘Report from Hunan’ in “Selected Writings Volume One”. Mao does fieldwork!

Michael Taussig; “My Cocaine Museum” – a latter day arcades for the war torn, drug crazed, exploited and exploiting realm that is now.

Klaus Peter Koepping; “Shattering Frames” – his collected essays on anthropology, a great teacher.

Rao/Hutnyk eds; “Celebrating Transgression” – essays in honour of Klaus Peter Koepping, with my mad musings on William Burroughs included.

Wolff, Kurt; “Surrender and Catch” – not well enough known but worth a look – was Prof at Brandies from 1959 – 1992.

More to come.

A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise by Richard Francis Burton

Note to self:  Four years before the “Indian Mutiny” (first all India war of Independence), Richard F Burton published “A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise”, writing:

The Sepoy has not learned to trust to his musket as a European soldier does. The former, being inferior in physical strength, finds the firelock a cumbrous weapon, and perhaps he feels himself deficient in that dogged courage which must animate those who fight sturdily under a serious disadvantage. Consequently the Sepoy would often, if permitted, throw away his musket, & trust to the sword or dagger, the handling of which is more familiar to him. But Indians are not so adverse to innovations as they are popularly supposed to be.”

See here: A Complete System of Bayonet Exercise by Richard Francis Burton

See also here for Burton Archival stuff: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=P4334.

and here for online books:

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/search?author=Burton+Richard+Francis&amode=words&title=&tmode=words

including the thousand nights and a night:

http://www.burtoniana.org/books/1885-Arabian%20Nights/index.htm#supp

Afzal farce in Delhi

Gadkari not sorry about ‘son-in-law’ remark on Afzal Guru
Press Trust of India, Updated: July 09, 2010 13:04 IST

Dehra Dun/New Delhi: Taunting the Congress over the delay in hanging Afzal Guru, BJP President Nitin Gadkari asked the party whether the Parliament attack death row convict was its “son-in-law”.

In comments that could stoke a controversy, Gadkari thundered at a BJP rally in Dehra Dun last night asking Congress leaders “Is Afzal Guru the son-in-law of Congress? Have you (Congress) given your daughter to him (Afzal). Why is he being given special treatment?”

Congress reacted with disdain to Gadkari’s remarks saying he has lost his mind and scoffed at the BJP chief.

When asked by reporters today whether he would apologise for his controversial remarks, Gadkari said he stuck to his stand.

“I have said nothing wrong. I stick to my stand and so there is no need (to apologise),” Gadkari told reporters in Dehra Dun.

In this regard, Gadkari said Congress government of Delhi was sitting on the file related to execution of hanging of Afzal Guru for four years and when asked Chief Minister Sheila Dixit said it was done on the instructions from the then Union Home Minister.

Now the decision is pending with the President, he said.

“I have not made a wrong statement. They (Congress) should rather give the reply as to why they are not executing the orders of the Supreme Court,” he said.

Gadkari made a reference to the Afzal Guru issue while slamming the Congress and the UPA for the delay in the hanging of the death row convict, bringing the focus back on the Afzal case file.

Congress said Gadkari has lost his mind and sarcastically said he needed serious help.

“The remark smacks of obscenity, obnoxiousness and obtuseness,” Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari said in New Delhi

Tiwari further said, “it is very obvious that the esteemed president of the BJP has lost it completely. The BJP should take pity on him and deposit him into a psychiatric facility. The man needs serious help.”

Targeting Congress, Gadkari had said, “It (Congress) is a party full of fearful people. They can never fight with terrorists and can never get rid of terrorism. It is a party which will bow down in front of terrorists and can never protect India.”

The Supreme Court upheld Afzal’s death penalty in 2005. Since then, the Opposition has attacked the Congress for delaying his hanging, saying if Afzal is not hanged India will be seen as a soft state. Afzal is on death row for over eight years after he was convicted of masterminding the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament.

Four years after its opinion was sought, the Sheila Dikshit government in Delhi finally gave its opinion to Lieutenant Governor Tejinder Khanna recently saying that it supports the Supreme Court’s decision to give death sentence to Afzal Guru, but added a rider saying that the implications of the execution must be taken into consideration.

Within hours of this, Khanna returned the file asking the Delhi government’s stand on Afzal’s mercy petition. The Delhi government sent back Afzal’s file saying that it stood by the Supreme Court verdict.

Story first published:
July 09, 2010 12:59 IST

Will pre course massive expansion be funded?

I haven’t been involved in this venture to offer year long fee paying access courses to potential international students. But still I am concerned as to how we can do this at Goldsmiths, how anyone could afford it, and when we would make our ‘expected’ contribution (course offerings and the like). CCS already works at optimum capacity plus some. Who could possibly consider spending any time on this?

The admin says this is largely an undergrad thing: “We are looking towards a suite of one-year International Foundation Certificates leading potentially to any of our undergraduate degree programmes”

Though the outline document does mention there will be a future postgrad component: “An important further consideration here is the role of (four-year) Extension Degrees and Integrated Degrees. There seems no imperative to change something that is working well, but we might want to review nomenclature and should certainly bring all the international routes under one heading for marketing and recruitment. We propose a similar suite of one-year Diplomas for pre-Masters students, but the extent to which we might want to customise these is up for discussion.”

No doubt quality will be assured by some quality review committee, but I have my doubts about its long term viability. Smells like a quick money grab to me.

Taking into account the imperative that a university provide for the greater uplift of all through education(!), do we even want to do this? I work in a research centre. I do not want to malign the job the LSC people do, or anyone else at Goldsmiths, but I wonder how long we can maintain standards with the potentially massive expansion this might bring – it would be so dodgy if we ended up with low quality hastily organised slapped together bits of courses, taught mostly by VTs I bet, with random samples of other courses haphazardly arranged, and no-one in the departments charged with (or paid for) oversight of quality, so no doubt leading eventually to constraints and stress, and in the end ripening us up for privatisation (all this eventually co-ordinated and taught by some unaccredited private company as was mooted but defeated two years back)?

Am I the only one who thinks this is a hostage to fortune scenario? at the very least, it does not seem to me to be something a research centre would want to do? We are hard pressed to get our own research done as it is. We need more time not less, we need space and staff. We are already over capacity, despite our successful ‘quality’ review.

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