Email from the Vice Chancellor today:

Prior to the formal start of [Enterprise Bargaining] negotiations, members of the Executive would like to meet with staff to discuss the challenges and opportunities on our horizon, how the Our Future projects will address these and to provide you with the opportunity to comment on how our enterprise agreements should be structured in the weeks and months ahead. We are finalising some dates and venues to host forums with staff during December and February. A follow-up email will confirm these and invite you to attend. We look forward to regularly communicating with staff throughout the negotiation of the new agreements and will regularly seek your input. A website which will serve as the focal point for information for staff throughout the negotiations is currently in development.

Dear Jan,

The life of a institutional blogger is an interesting one. Here at Dissenter we receive many contributions that we just cannot publish. They describe scandals and misdeeds and we have no way of knowing if they’re truth or fiction. We decided the blog would not be a forum for personal vendettas and, because we are so tied up filling out forms and reading Rhonda’s policy bulletins, we have no time to be investigative journalists. So we put these contributions to one side and stick to what we do best: building an on-line community for the staff of the university of the people and encouraging them to express their thoughts and frustrations freely and without fear of reprisal . And we’ve achieved that. In the last week UWS Dissenter has had more than four thousand hits and more contributions than we can use. On one day alone last week more than 1500 people clicked on us.
So good on you for emerging from the bunker ; for trying to prove the university is not a war zone; for reaching out to the people. But with all due respect you really shouldn’t waste your valuable time (which we’ve costed at $465 per hour), not to mention the valuable time of others in the executive, taking the circus on the road again. Because hardly anybody will come. And hardly anybody will post anything on your silly website. Why? Because we are not interested in being ‘consulted’. We’ve had enough of this sham. So what are we interested in? Firstly, in being given some resources to once again do the tasks that this university claims it is doing: teaching our wonderful students and doing our research. Give the Schools a decent portion of what they earn from undergraduate teaching. Stop starving them and forcing them to sack people. Stop hoarding all that money because, let’s face it, you’ve really made a bit of a hash of things in recent years. Secondly, we’d like you to trust people to make decisions. For example, when you ask a group of people to choose someone to fill a job vacancy then trust their decision. Don’t just veto it. What a waste that is. When I go to any sort of meeting, I should be able to know that it has the power to make a decision that will count for something. I’m sick of yelling into an institutional vacuum. Thirdly, get a few more people inside your circle who understand academic work. Dispense with the cookie-cutter careerists, the groomed social climbers, the back-slappers. And get someone to lead the enterprise bargaining with academics who actually has some experience working as an academic. That is very important.

So if you really want some ideas from us about Our Future, keep reading this blog. We will keep receiving contributions and publishing them. And please feel free to write to us yourself – this would be time better spent than attending a bunch of failed campus forums in December and February. Of course this might mean you’ll lose some face. You’ll have to acknowledge our existence. But if you really want to heal the place, to reconcile with staff, then enter a genuine conversation.

John D’Oh