subtext 196 – wholly government-approved free-speaking subtext

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In this issue: editorial, campus update, rent strike, partnerships, freedom of speech, strategy, testing, still recruiting, a poem, letters.



Exactly one year ago tomorrow, UCU members up and down the country began 14 days of strike action over pensions and the four fights, just as the first wash your hands posters were going up on campus in response to what most thought would be a precautionary response to a new virus. This week, UCU members at Lancaster received ballot papers calling on them to support strike action over the University’s response to the ensuing coronavirus pandemic. As with other recent ballots for industrial action, the most important outcome may not be the actual result, but rather the turnout, as without at least 50% of local UCU members responding, the ballot will be null and void. For context, in just over two weeks’ time at least some in-person teaching is supposedly due to resume on campus, principally for courses with practical elements.

Meanwhile, the results of the January pulse survey of staff, released this week, showed that the majority of staff report that their wellbeing has been impacted as a result of the pandemic, with 250 reporting their wellbeing as poor or very poor:

Perhaps as a response to these findings, the Director of Human Resources reminded everyone, in an Intranet post on 12 February, that we should feel empowered to take breaks in order to manage your own physical and mental health:

So why not take a freshly-empowered break this afternoon to digest your latest edition of subtext? In a reflective issue, we’re looking at the largest student-led action in decades, the announcement of yet another partnership, and the proposed appointment of a freedom of speech champion for universities. We’ve also got a poem.

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