We wanted to remind you that UCU is calling on all our members that have voluntary positions with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to resign.
This followed UCU’s letter to UKRI calling on it to reverse its decision to suspend its advisory board on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) by the end of Friday 3 November, which UKRI refused to do. UCU conveyed its anger and disappointment at UKRI’s capitulation to Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Skills Michelle Donelan’s interventions. The letter also criticises the Secretary of State for seriously misrepresenting the views expressed by two members of the advisory board.
Attacks on academic freedom
We know that many members are concerned about attacks on academic freedom or freedom of speech. UCU encourage affected members to come forward so they can build up an effective picture of where issues are developing. Please let us know if you have been affected.
Following recent events UCU are also aware of a rising number of cases of antisemitism and Islamophobia, including in colleges and universities. UCU opposes all forms of discrimination, support is available when experiencing discrimination, bullying or harassment. Please contact the branch if you need support.
Since the make-up of our 2023/24 committee was confirmed at our AGM, we have found ourselves bidding a fond farewell to a remarkable advocate while simultaneously welcoming two new faces to the team.
Firstly, we would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Ellen Nicholls, our tireless Equality Officer. Ellen’s unwavering dedication, passion and hard work have been instrumental in advancing the cause of equality within our university. As Ellen embarks on new adventures at Nottingham Trent, we wish her all success and happiness.
But while sad to lose Ellen, we are delighted to welcome Kerry Featherstone, our new Equality Officer, and Anthony Kevins, our newest committee member. Kerry brings fresh perspectives and a wealth of experience to his role, and we are pleased to see him leading this important work for us. Kerry will be sitting on the EDI Ops Committee (on behalf of all campus unions) for this academic year. Likewise, we are delighted to have Anthony with us.
Kerry and Anthony have written brief introductions below:
Kerry Featherstone,School of Social Sciences and Humanities, LUCU Equality Officer
I am a lecturer in Creative Writing. I’ve been teaching at Loughborough since the early 2000s, and full time since 2009. My teaching involves giving students creative skills as well as industry knowledge: I am the Programme Lead for the MA in Creative Writing and Writing Industries. My research ranges from representations of Afghanistan to creative responses to English landscapes. I have also translated texts from English to French. I’m on the EDI committee for SSH and served for fifteen years on the board of Apples and Snakes, a poetry organisation that aims to amplify unheard voices. I have ADHD, so am writing this at the last minute.
Anthony Kevins, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, LUCU Committee Member
I’ve been at Loughborough University since September 2019, when I took up a lectureship in Politics and International Studies, and I’ve also worked in Canada, Denmark, and the Netherlands. I’m a political scientist by training, and most of my research relies on statistical analysis of survey data, often with a focus on social policy, inequality, and democratic influence. As a co-opted ordinary committee member, I’m looking forward to helping the branch committee get things done and work toward improving the working conditions of all Loughborough employees, members and non-members alike.
We would like to thank Reps and members for their tremendous support for the action so far: our success is driven by your creativity, time, and energy!
An additional day of action has been called by the HEC for 15th March in order to increase pressure on the employers during the ongoing talks. Upcoming strike dates, pickets and teach-outs as below:
Strike action date
Wednesday 15 March
11am-12pm: Organising and Power – Rose Pesotta
Thursday 16 March
Lboro Picket: 8:30 – 10:30 Main Gate
11am -12pm: Memories of anti-racism
Friday 17 March
2pm-3:30pm: Organising for Power Workshop
Monday 20 March
Lboro Picket: 8:30 – 10:30 Main Gate
11am-12pm: Starting conversations about race and racism
Tuesday 21 March
Wednesday 22 March
Teach-Out Details: Please advertise the three of these events that are open to all students and colleagues.
The “Organising and Power” teach-out will be held online. Ruth Kinna will give a talk about Rose Pesotta (1896–1965), anarchist, feminist and labour organizer in the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union: Teams link
The “Memories of anti-racism” teach-out is hybrid. Emily Keightley will introduce the Migrant Memory and Postcolonial Imagination exhibition at: Charnwood Arts (27 Rectory Pl, Loughborough LE11 1UW) and will talk about histories and memories of anti-racist protest and experiences of racism in Loughborough and East London. All are welcome to attend in person or via Teams link.
The “Organising for Power Workshop” will be held online. Alexandre Christoyannopoulos will lead the workshop introducing methods from the Organizing for Power training that some members attended last year, with time for discussion about how they could work within Loughborough UCU. This workshop is for LUCU members only, and you can attend via Teams link.
The “Starting conversations about race and racism” teach-out is hybrid. Denise Coles and Amanda Harrington will talk about how to start conversations about race and racism, with fellow workers and students, in meetings, corridors, formally and in informal exchanges. All are welcome to attend in person at: The Council Chambers, Loughborough Students Union, or via Zoom Link.
ASOS: We would also like to remind members that ASOS is ongoing.
It is vital that the union returns a Yes vote to further action to give our negotiators the necessary mandate and leverage to succeed in discussions with UUK and UCEA. Your ballot must be received by 31 March, and the last safe posting date is 28 March. If you have not received a ballot, please contact UCU directly: replacement ballot request form.
Thanks to Saul Albert and Anthony Kevins we have some inspiring videos that showcase student support for our action. Please support UCU Rising by circulating these videos via your social media. We are very grateful to Saul and Anthony for creating these valuable resources. To see the videos on our various platforms please click the links: YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.
Local Strike Fund
We would like to acknowledge grateful receipt of a £100 donation from Leicester Workers Support Group, which will allow us to make another donation to the UCU Fighting Fund, directly benefitting our members in the coming months.
EDI: We are pleased to report that there will be direct union involvement on the new University EDI Operations Committee, led by the new PVC-EDI Charlotte Croffie. This recognises union members as a key stakeholder constituency, and our participation in the work of the committee will enable us to inform the direction and implementation of EDI initiatives. As this is not a space for negotiation, the three campus trade unions will rotate sending a delegate to serve for one year. There will be regular meetings with Unite and Unison to consolidate the unions’ perspective.
LUCU is currently in the process of expanding our representation on LUCU committee by seeking multiple equality officers. Our aim is to maximise our engagement with relevant university EDI projects and working groups and to prioritise aspects of EDI in line with national campaigns. We have expressions of interest from two members to stand for the following officer roles: Disability; Women & LGBTQ+. We are keen to hear from other members who may wish to join committee and lead on BAME. We would like to assure members that we recognise the importance of an intersectional approach to EDI, and we envision our EDI officers and other committee members working together to ensure our approach to EDI is aligned with best practice.
REF: LUCU will also continue to have a voice on the REF Code of Practice Working Group, which is chaired by the PVC for Research and Innovation. The group works to ensure the fair and transparent identification of staff and selection of outputs for REF. We ask that members feedback any issues of concern about the REF process in their schools so that they can be raised either at a working group meeting or ARSNC.
Professor Dan Parsons, PVC – Research and Innovation, attended ARSNC to discuss items we had put forward for discussion following concerns raised by our members about the internal review of REF outputs at school level, as well as grant capture and EDI. It was agreed that schools should ensure they approach the review with parity and transparency in mind; the process should be developmental in focus, and internal scores will not be used as a measure of performance during PDRs. The University also recognises the inherent biases in the grant process in terms of applicants with protected characteristics, and the PCV was keen to ensure that the University aims to mitigate as much as possible these external factors when, for example, considering applications for university fellowships and promotion.
Restructures: We have been in consultations with management about restructures in IT Services, the Research and Innovation Office, and the School of Aeronautical and Automotive Engineering. We can report that no redundancies are planned, and where individual members have requested it, a caseworker has been assigned for support.
WAMS and Workload: Members have raised concerns about the timing of workload allocation, which, in some schools, has come too late for efficient planning of teaching and research. Steve Harris, Change Portfolio Manager & Process Improvement Lead, has agreed to review WAMS to explore how workload allocation can be managed in a timelier manner.
Members’ views were canvassed regarding a further 10 days of strike action and a marking boycott as voted for at the recent HE sector conferences on USS & 4 Fights. An emergency motion was tabled that instructs branch officers to communicate to UCU HEC the following:
LUCU does not agree with the timing of a marking boycott in May/June;
LUCU will hold our strike days in reserve at this time;
LUCU believes that national actions require a majority to be participating, and we are in favour of aggregated ballots.
The motion was passed with a majority of 84%. We have shared the motion with Paul Bridge, Head of UCU HE. The EGM revealed strong support for the strategy proposed by Jo Grady to delay action in order to build broader support throughout the sector (you can find her position paper here), but which was not supported at the sector conferences. At the meeting on May 10th for branches that have a mandate for action, our delegates will report members’ views as expressed in the motion and recommend that HEC give further consideration to Grady’s recommendations.
Throughout the dispute, the LUCU committee has kept the channels of communication open with management. We reported to members on a joint LUCU-Lboro statement that syncs with the recent statement between Glasgow UCU & management (click here for the Lboro statement). It is hoped that the statement will encourage other institutions to come forward and publicly support a fair resolution to the USS dispute. LUCU will now work to secure a joint statement on 4 Fights.
The Chief Operating Officer, Richard Taylor, has responded to the 2 motions that were tabled for the General Assembly meeting that was postponed.
Concerning the request that GA does not take place during strike action: the date of GA was fixed before Lboro UCU fixed their strike dates. We do not routinely re-organise University events affected by strike dates.
On the second motion (the deficit), it is not clear if this is a motion to ask Council not to pay the deficit reduction now; if this is the case, we believe it would be beyond Council’s legal power to act in this way. If the intent is to push for a dispensing of the need for the deficit reduction payments in the future, this would be within Council’s powers, and therefore it could consider this. I believe it would be best to raise this following the next valuation.
I would like to note this point of governance: Council cannot be compelled to act by GA. The GA called and postponed, can still be reinstated at UCU’s request, but I would hope we could determine a better route. Management has no objection to the view of Loughborough UCU being shared with Council. If there are views/statements that Loughborough UCU wish us to bring to the attention of Council (which it could then choose or not choose to consider), we would be happy to do this.
Given this statement, should another GA be called on a strike day, LUCU will act to gather the 25 signatures needed to call another meeting, and the branch committee welcomes the opportunity to present members’ views to Council.
The Government Pay Gap Review 2017-2022 reveals little progress over the last 5 years on gender; for example, Lboro is in the worst position for 3 metrics compared to other East Midlands universities. Click here for Lboro data on gender pay gaps; click here for government data.
We will be raising the issue of pay gaps for all staff with protected characteristics at the JNCC on September 14th. Management agrees that more progress is needed, and they have agreed to invite Charlotte Croffie (PVC for EDI) to present her initial thoughts on closing pay gaps. LUCU will work to ensure that solving the pay gap problem at Lboro is high on her agenda.
Lboro University Council Elections
LUCU endorses the candidacy of Priti Meredith, who is standing for the role of non-academic member of University Council.
I have worked for five different Universities in the Midlands and in London since 2005. I joined the University in 2015 and currently work for the School of Science as a Development Manager in the Centre for Mathematical Cognition. I will take on a role in operations management this summer for a new, large-scale research centre in early mathematics learning.
Having worked for different Universities has enabled me to experience a range of organisational strategies, policies, and procedures. In addition, I am female and of Asian British Indian origin and a working mother. As a result, I feel that I would be able to make a unique and pragmatic contribution to Council. Furthermore, I am presently on maternity leave following the birth of my second daughter and becoming a member of Council would further contribute to my career development.
My experience overlaps with the remit of Council including advising in the development of strategy and vision and contributing to decision-making. In addition, I have worked collaboratively with colleagues to create risk strategies and helped identify and monitor Key Performance Indicators.
I have strong communication and presentation skills and regularly present to audiences, shaping my delivery to suit. Much of my career has involved encouraging academic colleagues to apply for external funding and I have a track record of achieving this successfully through my experience and ability to be honest and empathetic, which I feel are also important attributes for Council. I understand that good governance is critical to ensuring the organisation’s success and endeavours to make the most of available opportunities to move the organisation forward. I feel greatly enthused at the prospect of playing an active role in contributing to Council’s work and adding representation in terms of a professional staff member and one who is able to represent academic colleague’s views and experiences, thus bringing an exclusive and valuable insight –Priti Meredith
It can happen to men, women and people of any gender identity or sexual orientation, and it can be carried out by anyone of the same sex, a different sex or anyone of any gender identity. See ACAS definition.
Sexual harassment is usually directed at an individual, but not always. Sometimes there can be a culture of sexual harassment in a workplace which is called ‘joking’ and ‘banter’. Sexual harassment can include:
flirting, gesturing, or making sexual remarks about someone’s body, clothing, or appearance
asking questions about someone’s sex life
telling sexually offensive jokes
making sexual comments or jokes about someone’s sexual orientation or gender reassignment
displaying or sharing pornographic or sexual images, or other sexual content
touching someone against their will, for example hugging them
sexual assault or rape
Every day, people across the UK are sexually harassed at work. Our current laws put the onus on individuals to report such incidents but the TUC report that 4 out of 5 don’t feel able to tell their employer.
Local Points of Contact for Staff with Sexual Harassment Concerns
Two members of the local branch committee have agreed to be points of contact for staff with sexual harassment concerns. Marie Hanlon (primarily for staff in professional services) and Sue Hignett (primarily for staff in academic departments). Their contact details can be found here. Please do get in touch with either of the contacts if you have any concerns regarding sexual harassment.
Campaign for 16 days in 16 ways
From the 25th Nov until the 10th Dec UCU are contributing to a campaign run by The Centre for Women’s Global Leadership, a feminist human rights organisation. For more information please see the UCU website here. Members who wish to get involved in organising and contributing to this campaign on a local level please get in touch with the branch by clicking here.
Continuing Professional Development
We are offering members a webinar course “Challenging Sexual Harassment and Violence” at a date TBC. Our branch Equality Officer has recently completed the pilot session for this webinar and reported back “It was an excellent session lasting just under 1.5 hours”. The course aims to help you; identify what we mean by sexual harassment and violence, understand how polices can protect staff and explore how we can all challenge sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. At this point we are requesting Expressions of Interest, please click here to send an EoI to the branch.
In the UK, we need role models in all areas of society. An All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Women in Parliament is running a series of discussions and debates about:
modernising Parliament to advance gender equality
amplifying the diverse voices of young women from across the country; giving them a seat at the decision-making table.
Call for Safe Spaces (part of UN Women): stopping the sexual harassment of women in public spaces, including online platforms
During the COVID-19 pandemic women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment, and poverty. Despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global COVID-19 policy spaces.
The UN has published a report on ‘COVID-19 and women’s leadership: From an effective response to building back better’ to shine a light on the critical role of women’s leadership in responding to COVID-19 and preparing for a more equitable recovery. It recognizes pre-existing and new constraints to women’s participation and leadership and advocates for measures to facilitate women’s influence over decision-making processes.
This includes creating opportunities to ‘build back better’ by including and supporting women, and the organizations and networks that represent them, in the decision-making processes that will shape the post-pandemic future.
Complaint as Diversity Work: Thursday 25th March 1-2pm
Our discussion group this week explores issues in Sara Ahmed’s lecture ‘Complaint as Diversity Work‘, which takes a critical (though not hostile) approach to management-led diversity agendas in Higher Education, with a particular focus on the gendered and racialized forms of labour they require. With Equality at the heart of UCU’s national #FourFights campaign and local work, our discussion will be led by members’ responses to the lecture. You can watch the lecture, which is an hour long, ahead of the session here and/or read a shorter blog post which introduces its main themes can be read here.
Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day (IWD2021)
International Women’s Day (IWD) was started in the 1900s when women’s oppression and inequality spurred them to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change in working hours, pay and for voting rights. The first National Woman’s Day (NWD) was observed in the United States on February 28, 1909, followed by the establishment of International Women’s Day in 1911 in Europe and the US. International Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975.
Over the last 110 years, there is more equality in legislative rights in many countries, and an increased visibility of women role models. However, the gender pay gap persists, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women’s education, health, and the violence against them is worse than that of men. https://www.internationalwomensday.com/Activity/15586/The-history-of-IWD).
To celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, LUCU will be sending weekly emails with information about women in the workplace and also holding 2 free events on:
#ChooseToChallenge bias. A workshop with Marie Hanlon to empower people to identify and challenge bias head-on.
Complaint as Diversity Work reading group discussion with David Bell and David Wilson. This group will discuss the complexities that emerge when institutions take on the mantle of ‘diversifying’ themselves, and the struggles of those who complain about gendered and racialized issues in the workplace.
We all have complex identities made up of intersecting characteristics such as race, gender, sexuality and much more. We may face prejudice against our gender, while experiencing privilege because of our race, or vice versa. It’s important that we listen to the experiences of those around us and think about how they compare to our own, in order to help us understand this complex picture. Sharing our personal experiences, especially painful experiences, can make us feel vulnerable. Indeed, such experiences can make us materially vulnerable. It is a privilege when someone is willing to let us see into their lives, and it gives us an opportunity to learn and grow.
We are therefore very grateful to our colleague David Roberts, who recently shared an intimate account of his life on the University Equality, Diversity and Inclusion blog. In ‘Recollections of a racial past in a racist present’ David paints a vivid picture of the challenges he’s faced, and continues to face, and those who have helped him achieve the success he has. We urge you to find time in your busy lives to read it – especially if your race is not something you’ve ever thought much about.
When a baby is born, or indeed more often these days long before it is born, we ask “what is it?” The gender of the brand-new human becomes their defining feature before they have drawn their first breath – determining the choice of clothes in which they will be dressed and the colour of the toys on which they will dribble and chew. In the short piece “What are you having?”, David Wilson explores why we’re so keen to answer this burning question, and what problems it might cause.
If you would like to have a piece of writing on EDI circulated among the membership, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org