Tag Archives: sabbaticals


The nominations for the next batch of LUSU Sabbatical Officers have closed, and it has the potential to be historic. The winners will have been announced by the time subtext’s next issue is out, and readers can expect a full analysis of LUSU’s new lineup. For now, we will focus on the Presidential race, which is a 3 way dance between Josh Woolf, Rhiannon Jones, and Siri Hampapur.

It is not unheard of for a sitting officer to re-run, and while Vice-Presidents have re-run for the same positions with varying degrees of success, Josh Woolf is the first sitting LUSU President to re-run for his position in nine years (the last being Michael Payne, who was successfully re-elected for a 2nd term as LUSU President in 2009). Rhiannon Jones, on the other hand, is the first former LUSU sabbatical officer (not just President) to complete a term of office, return to their studies, and then re-run for office after a year out.

It is already an unusual election, but what can we expect from the candidates? Last year we criticised current President Josh Woolf for his non-committal, light-on-policy manifesto which, as we predicted, translated into a docile Presidency. It hasn’t gone down well with students – even the Lancaster Labour club, many of whose members backed his candidacy, have publicly spoken out against Woolf’s unwillingness to pick a side during the strike action.

But Rhiannon Jones cannot reasonably claim to offer an antidote, given her similar politics-lite approach that Woolf inherited and built upon. Siri Hampapur, meanwhile, is lacking in any kind of representative experience, aside from having led LA1 TV, the student television station. So much for the talent, now let’s turn to their manifestos.

Hampapur promises to address soaring rents, fees, and parking costs. With no political experience within LUSU, and no evidence that she knows how to engage with the university’s structures to effect change in these areas, we have little confidence in her ability to deliver this – current President Josh Woolf was similarly inexperienced when he ran on the same promises, and his record speaks for itself. She also promises to ‘hold truth the power’, which we assume is her way of saying ‘speak truth to power’ – we admire the attempt to invoke George Fox’s famous phrase, at least. She goes on to promise greater consultation with PG students (we’ll believe that when we see it). In particular, she wishes to lobby for the option for postgrad students to stay in their undergrad college, an option which has already existed since the official College review of 2015. The rest of it is perfectly honourable – less sexual harassment, better mental health provision, and being available to students are fine things, but when the opposite would be to advocate for more sexual harassment, worse mental health provision, and being less available to students, you have to wonder if there’s much substance here.

Woolf’s manifesto opens by telling us how hard he’s been fighting to keep down the cost of living, improve communication, and speed up the completion of the Spine refurbishment. What he doesn’t mention is any of his successes in these battles. Woolf is very proud of how visible and approachable his officers have been since he took office, and how he wants to introduce more structures to hold LUSU to account. Since he hasn’t even effectively wielded the existing structures (see above) , and has presided over a very opaque year for LUSU, we struggle to see why he should be trusted to deliver on these promises. People reading his manifesto (the thinnest of the three on offer) might also ask why he can’t achieve any of these things in the four months he has left in office. His (lack of) stance on the strike action has also not done him many favours with a group of students that is quite large and well mobilised at the moment. But then, the sitting President always has the steepest climb, we’re sure.

Jones’ manifesto is the only one to focus on achievements. While she is quick to highlight the high voter turnout in the 2017 General Election, she doesn’t mention the December 2016 council by-election, and its glorious turnout of 7.12%. Furthermore, while she illuminates LUSU’s lobbying over the 2017 Higher Education Bill being mentioned by members of the House of Lords, she was less willing to support an NSS boycott – an NUS-endorsed act of disobedience which would have have a far more palpable effect on lawmaking if more institutions had got on board. The most promising part of Jones’ manifesto is a pledge to address its appalling democratic structures(discussed elsewhere in this issue of subtext.) That she failed to discard them in her first year of office, when it was already clear that they were destined for failure, doesn’t fill us with confidence that she’ll be any more willing this time around.

Candidate hustings take place at 6.00 pm on Monday 5th March in Barker House Farm. Voting opens on Wednesday 7th March and closes Friday 9th March.


Dear subtext,

Why is it that every time I contact the central Travel team for some bookings I find that they cost much more than I thought they would? I’ve been consistently finding the quotes that Travel get to be more expensive than what I could find anywhere online. This is especially true for airline tickets, which are at least 10%-20% more expensive booked through Travel than through any respectable airline website.

Corridor conversations always stumble upon them providing ‘additional care’, but I did not find this to be true at all. I recently needed help during 2 conference trips where there were misunderstandings about the booking with the hotel. It was extremely difficult to get in touch with either Travel or Key, their provider, which resulted in frustrating experiences that required many non-fun hours of undoing with Travel and the Expenses admin team upon return.

Furthermore, I find that many times the bookings Travel make are expensive but not necessarily better. Even when I do the homework of researching hotels, flights, etc, I often end up with a sub-optimal itinerary from Travel that costs much more than expected. So on top of wasted time, I find that my hard-earned research funds are unnecessarily depleted by an aloof team that seems indifferent about spending taxpayers’ money.

Name withheld


Dear subtext,

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it? Your drones could assist Lancaster’s current management a little by unearthing the story of Lancaster’s first experiment in importing a head to a thriving department.

In an attempt to suppress the young revisionists in Sociology (such as Nick Abercrombie, the late John Urry and John Hughes) in 1972 Vice Chancellor Carter recruited Michelina Vaughan, an author of a letter to The Times attacking the 1968 LSE student protesters, to the first chair and to take over as head of department.

The rest is history…

John Wakeford


Dear subtext

Show me the way to go! How exciting the new high-tech, illuminated maps that have popped up all over campus are! I’ll be even more excited when the second phase is completed – and the magnifying glasses are attached so I can read the text…

Joanne Wood


Dear subtext,

Regarding your piece on sedentary professions (subtext 168). Television weather presenters. I have never seen, in this country or abroad, anyone present the weather forecast sitting down. I wonder why this is?

Best wishes

Cheryl Simmill-Binning


Dear subtext,

Lancaster University Contracts of Employment have referred to ancillary documents relating to sabbatical leave entitlement. With that detail ever changing, a request went from the VC’s forum on sabbatical leave (May, 2015) for a time-line of contractual changes. Having kept no records, HR was unable to provide that information, so leaving it for individuals to inform HR of their contractual terms. Effective from August 2017, this ‘embarrassment’ has been resolved. All earlier statements are now void. For example, an entitlement to sabbatical leave ‘as of right’ (PS/97/782 March 2007) is replaced by ‘the granting of Academic Research and Education Leave which is not an automatic right’ (http://tinyurl.com/ybxxxb2f). That it is still possible to download ‘Sabbatical Leave – 10 Question and Answers’ and ‘Lancaster University Application for Sabbatical Leave (HR111)’, shows that there is some tidying-up to do. The legal implication of losing an entitlement ‘as of right’ is beyond the layperson, whose best guess (in the case of this writer) is that the change is analogous to an individual being ‘innocent until proven guilty’, to one who is ‘guilty until proven innocent’. That the presumption of leave in the absence of any contrary argument is gone; replaced by the presumption of no leave without the approval of an HOD.

Gerry Steele


Dear subtext

You may be interested to learn of the recent UA92 meeting (9 November) for Stretford residents. I attended in that capacity.

Your own Prof Sharon Huttly was in attendance as well as Gary Neville. They both gave bland presentations then we proceeded to question.

The background is that as part of UA92 they want to put high rise student accommodation on a small site which is currently a well-used car park. The proposed building would be out of scale with the rest of the area and right next to our two listed buildings, Stretford Public Hall and the Essoldo building. It is true that some people support the idea, and Gary Neville’s fame no doubt contributes to that. We also have a dated shopping centre with a high vacancy rate, so some people believe the student accommodation will give that a boost. The whole project is being sold by the council as ‘regeneration’.

There is also much opposition among people who think the building will be far too overbearing in the proposed location and that it will have a detrimental effect on the area in terms of amenities, etc. It seems to be these people who are attending the meetings, including myself. Both Gary and Prof Sharon looked a little shocked at the negative reaction from locals.

Since that meeting, there has been a change of tone from the council in my opinion. There has been another meeting (21 November) to discuss Stretford Town Centre, were it was stressed that nothing is decided. There was more listening, and less of the ‘selling of their plan’ approach we had initially. There are, however, obvious concerns. The council will be landlords of the student accommodation, so there’s an obvious financial incentive for the proposed site to be as densely populated as possible. It is in a Labour ward of a Conservative held council, so there’s no political backlash for the majority of Councillors to worry about. We are now coming towards the end of the consultation so we will soon find out if the Council have listened to locals. To reiterate, neither I nor the locals I speak to are against students coming here. The concerns are the very high density accommodation proposed, and the prospects for the area if this is built and UA92 does not succeed.

Best regards,