Minutes: General Meeting 19th January

Goldsmiths UCU General Meeting
12:00-13:00, 19 January 2017
Room 109, Deptford Town Hall

  1. Attendance and apologies
    Tom Henri (chairing as outgoing President) welcomed the meeting. Apologies were received from Natalie Fenton and Gary Riley-Jones.
  2. Previous meeting and matters arising
    a) No matters from the previous General Meeting required follow-up.
    b) TH noted with sadness the death of Mark Fisher and invited members and students present to speak. GUCU members and two of Mark’s students paid tribute, with several contributors speaking about workload, the pressures of working for the College and the need for the Branch to act on workload. Des Freedman proposed the Branch make a donation of £200 to the memorial fund for Mark’s family which was agreed. It was further agreed that colleagues from Visual Cultures lead on a further Branch response.
  3. College Strategic Plan
    DF led a discussion on the Strategic Plan. Members and students present noted the lack of meaningful consultation and the inherent difficult of engaging with what appeared to be a cuts agenda. It was noted that Gholam Khiabany had been asked to formulate the Branch response.
  4. National Student Survey (NSS) boycott
    It was noted that:
    >> Goldsmiths Students’ Union (GSU) and the NUS had both passed motions supporting boycott
    >> GUCU colleagues had met with GSU to discuss a plan of action
    >> The NSS will inform the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and that a boycott of the NSS helps to undermine the TEF
    >> 33 students’ unions are supporting a boycott
    >> Lecture slides supporting boycott are available
    >> Sabbatical officers and Departmental Student Co-ordinators (DSCs) were available to attend lectures to encourage students to support the boycott

It was agreed that:
>> Colleagues should inform GSU of any third-year undergraduate teaching taking place in the next week or two so a sabbatical officer or DSC could attend and encourage students to participate in the boycott
>> Members should keep departmental colleagues informed and call meetings with finalists where possible to explain the reasons for the boycott and build solidarity
>> Where members faced the prospect of administrative colleagues attending classes to encourage NSS participation that GSU be informed of the time of attendance in order that sabbs/DSCs could be there at the beginning of the lecture to the deliver the briefing

The following motion was passed nem con:
This branch notes that:
1.     The NSS is a methodologically flawed instrument for measuring teaching quality (Gibbons 2012).
2.     The NSS encourages gender discrimination in Higher Education (McNell, Driscoll and Hunt 2015)
3.     The NSS is a key metric for the Teaching Excellence Framework, the government’s instrument to increase managerialism and marketisation inside higher education.
4.     The NUS and Goldsmiths SU, along with many other student unions, have called for a boycott of the NSS on the grounds that the TEF is divisive and will be utilised to increase student fees.
5.     UCU has produced a written statement of support for the NSS boycott
https://www.ucu.org.uk/boycott-the-nss

This branch resolves to:
1.   Support the NUS and Goldsmiths Students’ Union in boycotting the NSS.
2.   Work with Goldsmiths Students’ Union to raise awareness of the NSS boycott.
3. Share materials with members in support of the NUS boycott.

  1. Gold Paper update
    Susan Kelly noted Gold Paper-related work could now move forwards with a new Branch Administrator in post, and reported on the following progress:
    >> The wording of the three demands has been agreed by the Branch and GSU
    >> The Branch and GSU have agreed to meet print and design costs for petition publicity equally
    >>GSU are happy to host the petition on their webspace
    Colleagues further noted the need to secure widespread student participation in the petition.
  2. Workload update
    Marion Carty noted that some people had completed the Workload Survey sent to all members already and encouraged colleagues to get together and discuss and complete it together. It was also noted that the data collected would be used to present information to Pro-Wardens regarding widespread workload concerns. SK noted the need for qualitative information; MC emphasised that questions 22 and 24 were helpful in this regard. It was further noted that the message had been sent to many members’ ‘Clutter’ folder.
  3. Election of Branch President (casual vacancy to 2017 AGM)
    Patrick Moûle as Returning Officer for the election noted that two valid nominations had been received for Marion Carty. No nominations were received for any other candidate and therefore MC was elected nem con.
  4. UCU Annual Meeting of Staff on Casual Contracts: election of two delegates
    DF proposed that Oana Parvan and Mijke van der Drift were sent as delegates to the meeting pending their availability; this was agreed.
  5. UCU Annual Meeting of Academic Related, Professional Support (ARPS) staff: election of two delegates
    No nominations were received, and it was agreed that the Branch Executive elect delegates if possible.
  6. Any other business
    >> DF noted that College HR had provided GUCU with promotions data from the last four years on the basis of which the Branch would undertake a promotions survey led by Angela Phillips.
    >> A member from Cultural Studies noted the forthcoming dissolution of the Centre and the need for PhD students and staff to retain academic autonomy in new circumstances and departments; DF noted that he and MC would represent UCU in consultations during March and February and that whilst there were not redundancy implications for Academic or Academic-Related staff, the Branch would not accept any redundancies.
    >> The meeting thanked TH for his service to the Branch as President. PM was also thanked for filling in as Branch Administrator.