Psychology lecturer suspendid after claims of secrecy at MMU.

Posted: October 11, 2012 in Education, UK

Psychology lecturer Ian Parker has been suspended from his position at Manchester Metropolitan University. This action has happened unexpectedly and students and staff at the University have been given minimal explanation as to the cause.

What is known is that Ian was suspended from work after having been unable to arrange, with barely 18 hours notice, for a union official to come with him to hear a charge that the university said amounted to ‘gross professional misconduct’. What this is believed to suggest is that following Ian raising concerns within the University about the problem of secrecy and control in the department in which he works, he was suspended for doing so. Ian has had to leave his office and key, been told not to contact University staff and students, and his access to his email has been suspended. For his students Ian has simply ‘disappeared’ overnight, and while he is keen to continue supervising and teaching, he is not allowed to.

Ian’s sudden, shocking and completely unjustified suspension will be a cause of much distress for students at MMU, who must now deal with the removal of a lecturer part way through their academic studies, and for the wider international academic community, who will recognise this as a firm message to all. Ian’s suspension is happening against a wider backdrop in the UK where while universities are now charging students £9000 a year (and much more for international students), they are also cutting essential resources, often meaning staff have to work harder and complain less. This means that that staff that defend University as a space for open and democratic deliberation are often put under pressure to remain silent. In fact another member of staff at MMU and another member of the University and College Union, UCU, Christine Vié, is also being victimised, and has been made compulsorily redundant (and there is an ongoing campaign to defend her).

In an open message student China Mills said “We are in shock, but only if we speak openly together will we be in a position to challenge and change what is happening to all of us. Openness and democratic debate are the hallmarks of good education. Yet secrecy and silencing are key issues here. Ian has been silenced but his work continues to speak.”

In 1994 Ian helped to set up ‘Psychology, Politics, Resistance’, a network of people who were prepared to oppose the abusive uses and oppressive consequences of psychology, to support individuals to challenge exploitation, to develop a collective active opposition to oppression, and to make this a key element in the education of all psychologists.

The postgraduate students at MMU are sending a letter to Vice Chancellor John Brooks, expressing their collective disgust at what has happened. Messages of protest can be sent to the Vice-Chancellor John Brooks and the Head of the Department of Psychology Christine Horrocks. These messages can be copied as messages of solidarity to the MMU UCU chair Pura Ariza and it is imperative that, at the same time, support should be stepped up to support Christine Vié.

In her message China as told readers to feel free to email her for any further information on the case.

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