Speaking out against Professor Ian Parker’s Suspension at MMU

Dearest friends,

Something incredibly shocking has happened.

Professor Ian Parker has been suspended from Manchester Metropolitan University. It has happened suddenly and unexpectedly, and students and staff at the University have been given little to no explanation as to why.

Ian was suspended from work after having been unable to arrange, with barely 18 hours notice, for a union official to come with him to hear a charge that the university says amounts to ‘gross professional misconduct’. What this seems to mean is that Ian raised concerns within the University about the problem of secrecy and control in the
department in which he works, and was suspended for doing so. Ian has had to leave his office and key, been told not to contact University staff and students, and his access to his email has been suspended. For his students Ian simply ‘disappeared’ overnight, and while he is keen to continue supervising and teaching, he is not allowed to.

I could never fully express what effect Ian’s sudden, shocking and completely unjustified suspension might mean for students at MMU and for the wider international academic community. Ian’s suspension is happening against a wider backdrop, where while UK universities are now charging students £9000 a year (and much more for international
students), they are also cutting essential resources, often meaning staff have to work harder and complain less. This means that those staff who defend University as a space for open and democratic deliberation are often put under pressure to remain silent. In fact another member of staff at MMU (and another member of the University
and College Union- the UCU), Christine Vié, is also being victimised, and has been made compulsorily redundant (and there is an ongoing campaign to defend her).

We are in shock, but only if we speak openly together will we be in a position to challenge and change what is happening to all of us. Openness and democratic debate are the hallmarks of good education. Yet secrecy and silencing are key issues here. Ian has been silenced but his work continues to speak. Yesterday I looked at the principle aims of ‘Psychology, Politics, Resistance’, which Ian helped to set up in 1994 as a network of people who were prepared to oppose the abusive uses and oppressive consequences of psychology, to support individuals to challenge exploitation, to develop a collective active opposition to oppression, and to make this a key element in the education of all psychologists. So, let’s act together, and follow Ian’s example, and speak out – tell as many people as we can, and  come together collectively as an international critical community to call upon the management of MMU to come to a resolution of this problem and to reinstate Ian.

Please sign this petition to protest Ian’s suspension and call for his reinstatement.

Messages of protest can be sent to the Vice-Chancellor John Brooks
john.brooks@mmu.ac.uk and c.j.green@mmu.ac.uk and the Head of the
Department of Psychology Christine Horrocks (c.horrocks@mmu.ac.uk).

These messages can be copied as messages of solidarity to the MMU UCU
chair Pura Ariza (p.ariza@mmu.ac.uk) and it is imperative that, at the
same time, support should be stepped up to support Christine Vié
(c.vie@mmu.ac.uk).

We will keep you posted about further action, and do let us know if
you have any ideas for how we can fight this together (because we can
fight this together). Please feel free to email me
china.t.mills@gmail.com.

In solidarity,
China Mills (alongside many of the students at MMU)

—-
Also make sure to sign up to the EAN Conference at SOAS on Sunday October 28 here

About educationactivistnetwork
The education activist network provides national coordination for trade unionists, academics, university workers and student campaigners fighting to defend jobs and education in the UK.

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