MEN letter on academic freedom, #MMU and the skills and knowledge we need for the rocky road ahead

UPDATE: Campaigners are asking you to “LOBBY Ian Parker’s disciplinary hearing – Wednesday 7th November, 08.30am, ORMOND BUILDING. (Please check  on the day – last time management changed the venue at a few hours’ notice).”

The Manchester Evening News published a letter of ours on Tues 23rd.  We wrote it to support Professor Ian Parker, who has been suspended by his employers for, um, thinking critically. You can read more about it here, and, if you wish, sign the petition.

We had to read Thursday’s article “Manchester Metropolitan University professor suspended over email criticising bosses” twice, because we didn’t believe our eyes. Your reporter writes “Bosses took action after [Professor Ian Parker] emailed colleagues, including his line manager, questioning the way in which senior staff had been appointed. The message is not thought to have contained offensive or abusive language.”

So, MMU have suspended Professor Ian Parker because he thought and spoke… critically? What message do they think their action is sending to their students? That critical thought is important, as long as it fits with what those higher up the food chain want?

If we are to deal with climate change and other daunting challenges of the twenty-first century, we are going to have to start speaking up when we see stupid things being done.
MMU prides itself on its green credentials, but with this action, they are undercutting the very skills and attitudes that are going to be needed.

A businessman interviewed in the Financial Times once said that he judged an organisation’s healthiness and resilience on how quickly bad news travelled upwards. On that basis, MMU is not nearly as healthy as it would like to think it is.

Arwa Aburawa and Marc Hudson
Editors of Manchester Climate Monthly

PS The “believe/believer” typo was accidental, and our fault.

It is now common knowledge that Ian Parker has been suspended from MMU, and that he is prohibited from discussing his case with colleagues there, entering university premises or accessing his work email. At least this much is known to people inside and outside the university, but secrecy surrounds what exactly it is that he has done. Lest he attracts another charge of failing ‘to comply with a reasonable management instruction’, he cannot yet say exactly what has been happening. Not only have people declared their outrage at what has happened but they have made a leap of faith to do that. In some cases people have been concerned that they do not have all the facts, they are understandably reluctant to stand by Ian if there is a possibility that he has really done something terrible that merits the suspension, and the suspicion that the suspension breeds will already have had direct effects on his work. The secrecy surrounding his case is seriously damaging not only MMU but Ian’s reputation. Ian has made it clear that he is happy for all documents, letters and emails relating to his suspension and disciplinary process at MMU to be released to the public. As a first step to repairing his reputation, and reassuring those who have any doubts over this case, we call on MMU to desist from simply repeating that external speculation around the reasons for the suspension is ‘wholly inaccurate’ and to state openly what the charges are. Anyone who would like to support him, despite or because of lingering worries about what he may have done, could now simply demand of MMU that they tell the truth.

Letters to this effect can be sent to the Vice-Chancellor John Brooks ( and of the Department of Psychology Christine Horrocks ( These messages can be copied as messages of solidarity to the MMU UCU chair Pura Ariza ( and it is imperative that, at the same time, support should be stepped up to support Christine Vié ( the MMU UCU vice-chair who has been singled out for redundancy.

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in academia, Signs of the Pending Ecological Debacle and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to MEN letter on academic freedom, #MMU and the skills and knowledge we need for the rocky road ahead

  1. I do not rate there ‘green’ credentials at all, they are nothing but ‘green-wash’. As for the way the MMU treats it staff, in the past it has disciplined staff, complaining about students passing their exams, without attending any lectures. Basically, dumbing down the educational standards required to pass. Also, I have been informed by a reliable source, of bullying by management of junior staff with disabilities. And the unions representatives not doing anything to protect them. And the last figures posted, they are 23% short of students enrolling this term (or is it called semester). This will mean MMU’s funding will be cut, so any further ‘green’ initiatives will be cut.

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