Category Archives: event

Challenging Everyday Sexism

In connection with the launch of the new Centre for Gender and Feminist Studies that I am several others are involved in, there is to be a day of talks, workshops and debate about challenging sexism in public and private life.

The event is free (though you do need to register as numbers are limited), and is open to students and staff at Stirling University, and anyone else who wishes to attend.

The programme has a number of sessions:

  • Laura Bates (founder of Everyday Sexism Project) and Kezia Dugdale MSP on ‘Challenging Everyday Sexism’
  • Workshops on challenging street harassment, porn culture, men challenging men, sexual violence prevention education
  • Gail Dines (author of Pornland) on ‘Sex(ism), Identity and Intimacy in a Porn Culture’

The detailed programme and registration form is available to download here.

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Why I am on strike today

If Stirling staff or students email me today, this is the out-of-office message they will receive, explaining why I am striking today.
—–
Thank you for your email.

I am on strike today as called for by UCU and two other unions, and am therefore not responding to emails.

I do not take this action lightly, and offer an explanation of why I am striking below.

I will endeavour to respond to all enquiries as soon as possible.

Note that I will not be paid today, but our union executive has urged senior management to use any deductions of pay from strike day for student hardship funds (specifically suggesting the Discretionary & Childcare Fund).

Stirling Student Union, in a vote on 29.10., voted overwhelmingly in support of the academics’ strike.

WHY I AM ON STRIKE
Unite, UNISON and UCU are calling for industrial action in support of a pay claim. Note that this explanation deals solely with the academics’ position, but a similar situation exists for staff represented by the other unions. The strike is seeking to rebalance normal academics’ pay in light of the strikingly healthy financial position that universities are in. The union explains this for the UK as a whole here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=6759.

In summary: since 2009 normal academics’ pay has fallen by around 13% in real terms. This is not because the employers cannot afford to pay more, it is because they choose not to. The sector as a whole (www.hesa.ac.uk) has over £1 billion in operating surpluses. According to HESA, in 2011/12, universities committed only 55.5% of their expenditure to staff, compared with 58% in 2001/2. Income from students continues to be robust: admissions are up by 7% on last year and level with the record year of 2011/12. What is happening? Many institutions have been building up cash reserves over recent years and paying their senior staff exorbitant amounts, and they are doing so at the expense of normal academics. Attacking staff in this way seriously undermines the investment in student teaching and academic research.

Specifically in the Stirling context, normal academics’ pay is being continually squeezed, whilst the university records large surpluses and senior management pay rockets:
– in 2011 the university recorded a £5,292,000 surplus (5.2% of income), staff costs of £57,650,000
– in 2012 the university recorded a £3,519,000 surplus (3.6% of income), staff costs of £57,660,000
Staff receiving high salaries have increased dramatically:
– £70,000 – £79,999 2011: 16 2012: 17
– £80,000 – £89,999 2011: 13 2012: 16
– £90,000 – £99,999 2011: 5 2012: 12
– £100,000 – £109,999 2011: 2 2012: 2
– £140,000 – £149,999 2011: 1 2012: 0
– £190,000 – £199,999 2011: 1 2012: 1
Total number of high earners 2011: 38 2012: 48
In 2011 and 2012, the Principal, Gerry McCormac, received a total of £224,000 (salary/benefits: £193,000, pension: £31,000).
(All this information is from the University’s Financial Statement: http://www.stir.ac.uk/about/publications/)

In contrast, academic pay for Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Readers (pay for Professors is not public) has decreased in real terms by 13% since 2009. Details of rates of Stirling’s pay are available here: http://www.personnel.stir.ac.uk/salary-payroll/salary-scale.php – Lecturers start on Grade 7, and gradually move up the scale, usually year by year (I am on Grade 8, for example). Increases have been paltry: in August 2009, someone on point 37 (bottom of Grade 8) received £36,715 and four years later received £37,382, an increase of just under 1.82%, when average inflation month by month was about 3.45% (http://www.rateinflation.com/inflation-rate/uk-historical-inflation-rate?start-year=2009&end-year=2012) – so that is a clear pay cut in real terms. As I have shown above, the university can easily afford to pay more (and senior management are clearly doing that for themselves), but in common with other UK universities, Stirling is choosing not to do so for normal academics. National negotiations between the union and the universities have ground to a halt over the universities’ intransigence.

In order to further this pay claim we therefore, regrettably, need to engage in industrial action. I hope that you will understand why I am doing this, and whether you are a colleague or a student, I and my union colleagues would appreciate your support. I love working with my colleagues and my students, and I regret that the universities are forcing the issue to this extent.

If you are a member of academic staff who wishes to join the union and support the industrial action, click here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=2283.

The Naked Soul

Friday, 10.5. lunchtime: Please note that the location for this evening’s event has had to be changed to Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge (map), after one Council department refused permission at the very last minute – and after repeated attempts to contact them – after another two had given the green light.  We have moved the time to 20:00 to allow people to make their way there in good time.  This will be explained more fully this evening.

The Naked Soul is a film by Syd Krochmalny. Ostensibly about Stephen Gough, better known in the UK as the Naked Rambler, the film explores essential questions about freedom and liberal modernity. This is not just a film, however, but a more expansive performance art event. This is suggested by the location of the screening (the Old Calton Cemetery, Edinburgh), and as might be guessed following Krochmalny’s comments at a seminar in Edinburgh recently. At a time when debate in Scotland over questions of freedom and the kind of society we want to live in are at the fore in the context of the independence debate, this event promises to offer some alternative ways of reflecting upon and engaging with key topics. Krochmalny’s artistic background in Argentina gives him insights into these issues that are very relevant to contemporary Scotland, as the seminar discussion demonstrated.

The screening will take place on Friday 10. May at 19:00 – all are most welcome.

Here is Krochmalny’s description of the film (click the image to download a large version of this leaflet):

The Naked Soul, by Syd Krochmalny

The Naked Soul, by Syd Krochmalny

Please share this posting and the leaflet widely – and I look forward to seeing you on Friday!

Visual Cultures in Scotland and Argentina: an interchange

I have been involved in the organising of a seminar by the University of Stirling (Centre for Scottish Studies; Languages and Literature; Social Science) and the University of Edinburgh (Department of Sociology).

The Argentinian artist and scholar Syd Krochmalny will be in dialogue with Simon Yuill, a Scottish artist and writer.

This seminar will bring together artists, academics and interested others from Argentina and Scotland in an exchange around contemporary developments in visual culture. The focus is the relationship of visual art to local communities and broader cultural institutions at a time of uncertainty, debate and change in both countries, in broad terms and specifically in relation to cultural policy.  The seminar is being chaired by Scott Hames and Sarah Wilson from the University of Stirling.

Thursday 25 April, 5-7pm

Seminar Room 3, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LD (just off Middle Meadow Walk)

All are most welcome!

A poster with more details is available to download here (PDF).

Whilst in Scotland, Syd Krochmalny will also be involved in an art installation under the heading The Naked Soul, exploring issues of freedom and control.  I will post more details about this at a later stage.

Update, 27.4.2013 I wrote a short piece about this event on my photography blog.