The Reporter
Issue 515, 27 March 2006
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Letters

Send your letters to editor of the Reporter, Vanessa Bridge. Email the.reporter@leeds.ac.uk or send by internal post to press office, 12.67 E C Stoner building.

All letters will be considered for publication. We will not as a rule publish 'round robin' letters, letters that have been published elsewhere or letters that have also been sent to University colleagues for action. Letters may be cut (for space) and we will indicate where this has happened. If writers have asked questions, we will attempt to answer them. If they assert things we know to be untrue, we may add an editor’s note.

BIKE LOCKERS (from Rik Brydson, LEMAS) Having cycled to the University for ten years, I was extremely pleased when a portion of the University transport budget was allocated to providing cycle lockers and reinstalling shower facilities (previously removed in our building) for staff. To access the lockers, a deposit must be paid as well as a weekly charge of £25 a year.

Imagine my surprise when I find that the bike lockers are not wide enough or deep enough to actually properly fit large bikes. Furthermore, there is no intention to replace any of these lockers which are currently unfit for their purpose. In light of the car parking problem on campus, we have got to come up with imaginative solutions which are actually implemented properly.

Transport co-ordinator, Steffi Hasse replies: New lockers installed in October 2005 are designed to fit a wide range of bikes and are used in many places throughout the UK. We are surprised to find that the lockers are too small for Professor Brydson’s bike; we’ve received favourable comments from other staff and all the lockers have been hired without any problems. The £25 annual charge will provide secure cycle storage and encourage everyone who hires a locker to use it regularly. A new cage could be installed near the Houldsworth building if a suitable space can be found, perhaps in conjunction with adjacent schools. We would advise any staff interested in this option to contact their environmental co-ordinators.

CONTENTIOUS VIEWS (from Professor Carl Lawrence, school of design) Following the various reports in the local and national press concerning the contentious views of Frank Ellis, I feel compelled to add my voice to our University’s expressed abhorrence and condemnation of his outrageous comments on race, religion and sexuality. I am a strong supporter of ‘freedom of speech,’ particularly because it often reveals ‘what lies beneath,’ but surely in a democratic society we must ensure that safeguarding one person’s freedom of speech does not disadvantage another’s human rights. The question that must be answered is, “Is the University of Leeds the right platform for Frank Ellis to promote such views?” By continuing to do so whilst being a member of staff, indeed a senior member of staff, he has placed our University in the invidious position of having to defend his freedom of speech in the light of a perceived breach of its policies on ‘equality and diversity,’ policies which, by his remarks, Frank Ellis appears to disparage.

Our University’s response to the situation was, correctly, to explain that there are practised procedures which facilitate fairness in student assessment. However, there remain the students’ concerns about their academic development and the equality of opportunity to aspire to ‘one’s full potential.’ This latter point is fundamental to the tenets of student tutelage and totally depends on trust and professionalism: the trust of students in their tutor and the trust of the academic body in its members to exercise responsibility for student learning and development in a professional manner. If a member of the academic body holds the view, let alone openly expresses it, that black people are of inferior intelligence to white people, can one then reasonably expect black students to have trust in any given assurance that they can achieve their full potential under that person’s tutelage? It is inconceivable that such an academic could practise equality in developing black and white students; the staff member would expect a lower level of achievement for black students. Is it not a fact that the effort given to a task depends on one’s level of expectation for the outcome? Would that member of staff therefore expend the same effort in tutoring a black student as a white? What goals would be set for their perceived abilities?

Frank Ellis’ views are discriminatory and would destroy the trust of black students in the fairness of his tutelage. Yes, he has the right of freedom of speech to hold such views, but I strongly believe our University is not the platform from which he should promote them. He has clearly worked hard to achieve esteem among white supremacists. Unfortunately, such esteem cannot reflect well on the international standing of the University of Leeds. We are a university that welcomes and values students from many races, creeds and cultures, and therefore it would be even more unfortunate if there were to precipitate from this outrageous situation a perception of tacit acceptance of such discriminatory views. As a member of the professoriate and therefore a colleague (clarification: a black colleague), I would call on Dr Ellis to be more aware of the best interests of our university and consider his position.

The Reporter has also received the following open letter to the University:
As members of the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Leeds , we the undersigned wish to condemn categorically the racist, sexist and homophobic comments made in the press by a lecturer in our School, Frank Ellis. We are proud of the multicultural, anti-racist and egalitarian ethos of the School, and are offended by his comments. We also believe that Dr Ellis is not in any way an academic expert in any of the matters with which he has brought the School's standing into disrepute. Furthermore, we note that this is not the first time that Ellis has courted the far-right: five years ago he spoke in the US at an ‘American Renaissance' conference, well-known for its Ku Klux Klan connections. We therefore support fully the University's decision to consider its obligations before the law with regard to equality of opportunities, and urge the University not to waver in this matter, and to act swiftly and decisively.

Signed,

Hussein Abdul-Raof
Aquiles Alencar Brayner
Charlotte Armstrong
Nigel Armstrong
Rowena Armstrong
Rhian Atkin
Jessica Bradley
Cécile Brich
Claire Buxton
Cécile de Cat
Pascale Cheung
Paul Cooke
Emma Cordell
John Cowey
Rhiannon Daniels
Bethan Davies
Stephanie Dennison
Don Dunmore
Syd Donald
Jo Drugan
Ruth Drury
Jonathan Ervine
Jan Evans
Federico Federici
Frank Finlay
Mark Flynn
Alessandra Flore
David Frier
Teresa Fuentes-Peris
Maria Garcia-Florenciano
Paul Garner
Russell Goulbourne
Sabina Grahek
Stuart Green
Maggie Guntrip
Laura Gurney
Judith Hanks
Rochelle Harris
Tony Hartley
Barry Heselwood
Diana Holmes
Chris Homewood
Sierk Horn
Jim House
Peter Howarth
Richard Hughes
Jo Jackson
Brian Jenkins
Sally Johnson
Catherine Kaiserman
Jill Karlik
Richard Knight
Maria La Sala
Mustapha Lahlali
Elodie Laugt
Patrizia Lavizani
Ruru Li
Imogen Long
David Looseley
Jen Low
Anne Macklin
Andrea Mammone
Antonio Martínez-Arboleda
Louise Mauborgne
Anne-Charlotte Midy
Helga Mitterbacher
Jose-Juan Munoz-Lopez
Lucia Nagib
Ian Netton
Liz Newton
Julia Nowosilyc
Alan O'Leary
Catherine O'Rawe
Mark Ogden
Julia Palacios
Mick Parkin
David Pattinson
Tim Peace
Gracie Peng
Patrice Pinchart
Thea Pitman
Dave Platten
Karen Priestley
Bernice Richardson
Brian Richardson
Roberto Rodriguez-Saona
Caroline Rose
Paul Rowe
Nigel Saint
Kamal Salhi
Pablo San Martin
Annette Seidel Arpaci
Ingrid Sharp
Joanne Shiel
Maggie Sillito
Max Silverman
Angel Smith
Helen Smith
Andy Stafford
Gigliola Sulis
Stuart Taberner
Jadzia Terlecka
Martin Thomas
Sarah Thomas
Matthew Treherne
Alan Turton
Sarah Waters
Frances Weightman
John Weste
Louise Williams
Mark Williams
Russ Wilson

FRANK ELLIS (From Ian Akeroyd, Property Assistant) Universities have historically debated and challenged controversial views, and indeed have been the catalyst for change in our society. They have certainly not capitulated to "Politic Correctness" as this University has. We are supposed to be a society that defends free speech, and Universities more so that anywhere else.

But time and time again when someone offers an opinion that does not accord with the establishment they are castigated, belittled or as in this case called a racist.

 

Page owner: pressoffice@leeds.ac.uk | Updated: 27/3/06

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