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 for more.

Heidelberg Talk 6 August 2010

“Stereotypes that Are Knocked Down just Get Up again: Music and Repetition in World War Three”
by John Hutnyk
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.

9.30am Friday August 6th 2010
Karl Jaspers Centre, Conference Room 212
Voßstr. 2, Building 4400, 69115 Heidelberg
Free Admission.
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

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)

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:

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: ‘:)’

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.