Many of you may have learned that the Senate, which along with Council is the supreme governing body of the University of Warwick, was supposed to vote on June 14th on whether to support the proposed reform of statute. This vote did not happen due to objections to the reform. While some may see this as a victory, the tactics that senior management used at this Senate meeting, and the position that the Senate adopted make it absolutely clear that those who oppose the draft statute need to continue escalating the fight to stop it from becoming reality.
Thanks to the extensive lobbying of members of Senate by students and staff members, along with multiple large mobilisations of staff dissent (like the Assembly and the UCU Emergency General Meeting) opposition to the changes has achieved a foothold in the Senate. However, members of senior management were aware of their weakened position and came prepared to this Senate meeting.
At one point a small group of senate members proposed a motion to completely reject the proposed changes to statute, but senior management managed to make sure that this new motion was not voted on and instead forced a “compromise”: a small working group of Senate members would review the draft statute.
We have seen again and again that senior management have been unable to give legitimate reasons for why the proposed changes to statute will improve the university. This was most blatantly seen at the recent Assembly where administrators did not put up a single person to speak up in defense of the proposed changes; instead, their strategy was to ignore the Assembly.
Management have tried their best to push the battle on to another day by forming a working group which will most likely propose cosmetic alterations to the proposed changes and then claim that staff and student concerns have been resolved.
While we are grateful for the courage of those members of Senate who tried to kill the draft statute outright, we must recognise that we did not win anything tangible on June 14th. We have not defeated the proposed changes, we have only forced Senate to promise to discuss the proposed changes amongst themselves. We have still not been heard.
That’s why it is crucial to continue lobbying members of Senate to completely drop the proposed draft statute and to join the Emergency Action on June 24th called by the Protect Academic Freedom at Warwick coalition.
To find out more about the reforms and how to help stop them, see here. To read an in-depth analysis of the likely impact of the reforms, and how similar proposals have been defeated at other universities, see here.