King’s College: Broader Problems Still There

Shalom Lappin and Wilfried Meyer-Viol, two of those whose posts were being cut, but who have now been reinstated, have written an important letter to read.

We wish that we could tell you that the crisis at King’s has fully passed and that all is now well throughout the College. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The College management is continuing to pursue restructuring plans in other Schools, where the academic staff have been forced to re-apply for their positions. Not a few of our colleagues in these Schools remain at risk of dismissal, and some are being pressured to accept “voluntary” severance. Moreover, the events at King’s are by no means unique. They are an acute instance of a pattern that we are seeing, in one form or another, in many other universities throughout the UK. As Britain’s new government embarks on deep cuts in public spending in order to deal with the country’s large deficit, we think it likely that processes of the sort that we have been experiencing at King’s will be widespread across the entire UK university sector within the next few years.

The way in which King’s, and other universities here in the UK have been responding to the financial challenges that they are facing raises at least two fundamental issues of principle. First, in dealing with a budgetary crisis does one treat forced redundancy as the last resort, to be invoked only after all other possible methods of cost reduction have been exhausted, or does management reserve the right to dismiss academic staff at its discretion in order to optimize its revenue?

It’s worth noting, though, that philosophers’ efforts played a crucial role in turning things around for philosophy. When we’re mobilised, we can make a difference for our colleagues. The fact that we can still have such effects is some reason for hope.

SGRP keeps you up to date!

Symposia in Gender, Race and Philosophy has begun posting links to recently published work in philosophy of gender and race, with abstracts. This seems like a great thing to me. But it’s just a trial run. Sally Haslanger would like folks to check it out and let her know if you find it useful– also to use it as a forum for friendly discussion of the pieces discussed. I was quite excited to find out about this Symposium on the Responsibility to Resist Oppression.

‘Pinkwashing’ KFC

KFC has had a bad press of late. A while back, there was all that fuss about the extreme cruelty inflicted on the chickens by the Colonel’s employees, caught on camera by an undercover PETA crew. Then there’s the constant barrage of criticism directed at the unhealthiness of the food – an artery clogging combination of fat and salt. In an attempt to sort out its image problem, KFC has jumped on the breast cancer awareness wagon with their pink buckets, sales of which include a 50 cent donation to a breast cancer organisation, Susan G. Komen for the Cure. The problem is that a high intake of fried food increases the risk of developing breast cancer, and the American Institute for Cancer Research tells us that 60 to 70 per cent of cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes, which include eating a predominantly plant based diet with minimally processed starchy staples. That sure ain’t buckets of fried chicken. Read more from the Huffington Post.

The WHO and the distribution of healthcare workers

Healthcare workers are unevenly distributed across the world, concentrated – surprise, surprise – in the richest countries, such as the UK and the US. Part of the reason is that healthcare workers from poorer countries are regularly employed in the richer countries. The World Health Organisation has been trying to do something about the situation, and after six years of negotiations, health ministers have finally agreed on a code of practice for the international recruitment of healthcare workers. You can read more here.

Protest the homophobic equality minister

Sign the petition calling for her resignation here.

In the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat cabinet Theresa May has been appointed as Minister for Women and Equality.

Prior to this appointment her voting record on gay rights has included:

– Voting against further discussion on the repeal of section 28, preferring to let it stand;

– Voting against lowering the age of consent in homosexual relationships to 16;

– Voting against gay adoption rights; as well as numerous other votes that have offended both homosexual and heterosexual communities. For these reasons we do not feel she is appropriate for the post of Minister for Equality.