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Friday, June 01, 2007

Of brass monkeys and boycotts

Two scenes from the annual conference of the University and College Union...

1. UK profs reject plan to spy on students

The government thinks academics should keep an eye open for students who may be drifting towards terrorist groups. Nothing doing, says conference.

'Critics said the plan unfairly singled out Muslims for surveillance and threatened free speech and academic freedom.'

Even if a lecturer catches a student watching bomb-making videos in the college library the three brass monkeys approach is mandatory...

'"Lecturers want to teach students," said Sally Hunt, general secretary of the union. "If they wanted to police them, they would have joined the force."'

So presumably if Ms Hunt was being assaulted by a student she wouldn't expect any lecturers to come to her assistance.

What's more...

'"You want them to be radical. That's the whole point: universities are where you encourage people to think outside the box."'

... says union spokesman Dan Ashley, in whose case our presumption must be that the more students sign up with the British National Party the happier he is. Or is that by any chance the wrong kind of radicalism?

What's particularly inane about this soundbite is that 'thinking outside the box' is not only a mindless managementspeak cliché, and as such an instance of not thinking outside the box, but also the precise opposite of the reality of most student radicalism. For a student radical such as I was some time towards the end of the Wars of the Roses, it's about finding a small, snug box where all the thinking has been done for you and where you can shelter from the terrifyingly large and open-ended box which is the university. I don't believe for a moment that the appeal of Islamist groups today is any different; the difference lies in their ability to act as ideological conveyor belts leading towards the groups where you really do learn about making bombs.

2. Boycott motion passes at UCU conference

'UCU conference just passed a motion to support the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel.'

Clearly, no danger at all that this will threaten free speech and academic freedom, or that Jewish students will feel unfairly singled out by the singling out of the Jewish state for demonisation.

Thank goodness the students are wiser than their teachers...

'Responding to today's University and College Union (UCU) boycott vote, NUS National President Gemma Tumelty said:

'“NUS does not support the principles behind an academic boycott of Israel. Such a boycott undermines the Israeli academics who support Palestinian rights, and hinders the building of bridges between Israelis and Palestinians. Retaining dialogue on all sides will be crucial in obtaining a lasting peace in the Middle East '

(from - and there's lots more at the Engage site)


Malthebof said...

However if they were asked to monitor 'right wing' activists, they would be falling over each other in their enthusiasm.

Cyrus said...

To the person whose comments I have removed: I acknowledge that your first comment was positive, however the name you use advertises the organization to which you belong, and it is not one whose publicity efforts I am prepared to assist in any way. This site uncompromisingly rejects anti-Semitism; that alone is reason enough to bin your comments.

Cyrus said...

PS to last comment: for example, you don't seem to have booted this gentleman out: