Far be it from the subtext collective to be inward-looking and disinterested in the goings on at other universities. Thanks to a source, we have frequently been able to attain private email exchanges between Mike M. Shart, the Vice-Chancellor of Lune Valley Enterprise University (LuVE-U), and various members of his staff. They paint a picture of a university in more scandalous times than our own.
In subtext 166, we revealed Prof Shart’s jubilation at LuVE-U being named Racing Post ‘University of the Year’, a clear act of aggression in response to Lancaster’s being named University of the Year by the Times. LuVE-U did differ from Lancaster in its response to Chris Heaton-Harris’s McCarthyite requests for Brexit teaching materials, by happily passing over the information. Like Lancaster, LuVE-U increased its on campus rents in 2017, and as our report in subtext 169 showed, Prof Shart’s response to student complaints was to highlight that their accommodation was still cheaper than at the Ritz Hotel.
The emails in our possession also reveal the shocking ineptitude of his staff, particularly his director of marketing (whose title seems to change on a weekly basis) Hewlett Venklinne, who was revealed to spend little time in his office despite being copied into nearly ALL of Prof Shart’s correspondence. Eventually, Venklinne was sacked by Shart for telling a Times journalist that he was sympathetic to striking academic staff. He went one further, and openly berated staff in an audio interview with LuVE-U’s student media (the first time we have heard Prof Shart’s voice in the three years we have been covering his activities). His Pro-Chancellor, Lord Rod E. L. Girdle, was revealed to have sent drunken emails suggesting that the disgraced ‘journalist’ Toby Young be appointed to LuVE-U’s University Council, something which Prof Shart seemingly welcomed. Shart’s gullibility was brought into even sharper relief when he was revealed to have taken lessons in public engagement from a notoriously slippery, superficially charming and dishonest Lune Valley County Councillor.
subtext prides itself on the fascinating light that our coverage has shed on the machinations of Lune Valley Enterprise University, and you can read all of it below.
The so-called Gender Pay Gap is, in fact, a Sex Pay Gap and the efforts that the university are suggesting around maternity and childcare are woefully inadequate, the latter mainly consisting of signposting things that are already available (though in the case of preschool childcare, pretty inadequate – it’s impossible, for example, to get additional hours/days at the Preschool Centre if asked to work extra time by one’s department).
The pay gap is in place way before we have children. Women are less mobile due to tending to have professional partners (while men are more likely to have partners in more portable and less professional jobs, since men earn more than their partners across society). Lancaster could make it easier for women to take a job if they have a professional partner, and advertise this. We could make it more flexible to, for example, take a sabbatical or a non-sabbatical career break so partners can move temporarily together. I had a big struggle when I wanted to take two terms’ sabbatical because it was the right time for my husband and me – he’d just been made redundant but apparently ‘we don’t do that in Psychology, we only take a full year’. One male colleague on hearing this said ‘oh I suppose my wife just gave up her job when I went on sabbatical’.
Women have more other caring responsibilities, not just children. My husband and I needed to stay locally for a number of years – at a time when other colleagues were getting promoted by moving jobs – because my husband’s mother was elderly and needed care. Few men help with care of their mother in law because that’s not what they’ve been taught since childhood.
Travel for work is often impossible for women with caring responsibilities – I couldn’t really travel for the first couple of years after we had children and the only reason I can now is because my husband’s work has become more flexible, not my job (he’s gone part time through choice but also his employer has pushed and enabled working from home a lot more. There’s been no change at all in the help Lancaster has given and no substantial change in the availability of childcare). Even a full day travel is impossible for me (London and back in a day for example) if I’m relying on outside childcare. This means not only could I not go to conferences at first but I also couldn’t go to e.g. a government meeting or grant meeting.
Because of Lancaster’s location, talented postgrads who want to stay in the area have to move into a professional services job – there are few commutable academic jobs if you don’t get one in Lancaster. This is more likely to affect women – men just move for work, while women stay put with, as I’ve said, a professional partner, non-childcare responsibilities or children.
Women have always been taught (since birth and, these days, before) that they are supposed to be less assertive. Obviously if you’ve managed to get a job in academia, you must have managed to push yourself forward to some extent. We recently had an excellent small workshop on promotion for women but previously the University has run workshops where at one a female professor just told us ‘it’s easy to be a professor, you just have to publish a lot and get grants’ (I can hear the hollow laughter of men and women echoing round campus!) and at another senior women just said ‘oh I’ve never experienced any discrimination’.
From the moment the doctor says ‘It’s a girl!’ or ‘It’s a boy!’ society treats us differently – our sex determines what gender roles society thinks we should take, following a partner as a trailing spouse, not speaking up to creepy supervisors, not putting ourselves forward for keynotes and promotions, taking on caring responsibilities for older and younger people – and that in turn determines how much we are paid.
– Issue 177
Did you know that the university has changed its policy on eye tests?
When I had my work glasses two years ago, I had a refund of £74 from the university – £24 for the test and £50 for the glasses. I went to my preferred optician which was Specsavers.
Now you have to go through something called SEE to get your voucher. This entitles you to a free eye test but only at the opticians listed, so not my opticians then, which I’ve been going to for years. It also entitles you to a free pair of their frames which quite frankly I wouldn’t be buried in, nor does it seem you can try them on before deciding.
Or – and this is the really shitty part – £25 towards your glasses, that you require to be able to do your job, partly because your eyesight has been wrecked by the tiny text and screenwork that you have been doing for the past 23 years. The two options in Kendal I could use are Boots, their range starts at £50, or Vision Express, and their range starts at £39, so whichever I choose I still have to put money to the glasses that I require to do my job. Interestingly Specsavers start their range at £25 but they aren’t allowed to join the scheme as I’ve been in contact with my branch and they have looked into it.
Thought you might be interested as I’m spitting feathers at this moment in time.
Best wishes for a summer of blindness.
Timetabling & Room Bookings
This survey from the group Unis Resist Border Controls researching hostile environment policies in British Higher Education might be of interest to you and your readers. Would encourage folks to fill it in and share it around.