Sunday, April 01, 2012

Shouting in an Empty Room: How Northampton Deals with Dissent

My email to the careers officer was, predictably, ignored. It seems to be the way Northampton University deals with dissent. I've just had a whole load more 'meet the employer' emails from the university delivered to my inbox.

I did have what looked like another chance to raise the issue of Tibet last week. Every year at the university - it's probably the same everywhere - they send out 'student satisfaction' surveys and these go back directly to the office of Nick Petford, the Vice-Chancellor. I'd had mine lying in my inbox for a few days and I'd done nothing about it. I don't, for the most part, believe these things are a legitimate exercise in improving the student experience. But when Mr. Petford failed to answer my email and the university's Facebook page also ignored me, I realised the survey might be a golden opportunity to get somebody to acknowledge my concerns. How naive could an old man be.

With all my usual flaming indignation I filled out the survey online, adding a long paragraph in the optional section at the end about how disturbing it was not only to see my university hosting visits from representatives of a brutal dictatorship, but also to be treated with disdain by the university hierarchy because I dared to protest about it.

When I clicked the 'send' button on the computer I felt good. For some reason, despite my scepticism about the student surveys, I felt as if I'd finally made my point. Someone, at least, would read what I'd written, searching the way they probably do for quotable plaudits to go into the next promotional brochure. At the very least I would create that moment of seething annoyance when they realised I hadn't shut up yet.


The next day, opening my email looking for something else, what did I find but an invitation from the university to fill out one of their annual student satisfaction surveys. Receipt of my previous one had been acknowledged by the automated system, but somehow it had vanished into the ether with all my other attempts to raise a lone voice of protest about the university's love affair with China.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just read this as came here by accident. I was looking for 'shouting in an empty room' for something I was tackling.