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Swansea Affair – Second Lecturer Resigns

Swansea Affair – Second Lecturer Resigns
In the News sections of RP 56 and 57, we
reported on the escalating row in the Phi10sophy Department at University College
Swansea, centred on allegations of malpractice in the examination of the M.A. in
Philosophy and Health Care. We also noted
the formation of the Swansea Three Defence Committee to support the lecturers
whose continuing requests for an independent enquiry into the Centre for Philosophy and Health Care had led to fears of
their victimisation. As the dispute has become increasingly public, with considerable coverage in the national press (see
right), such fears have unfortunately turned
out to be well grounded.

The beginning of the most recent series
of events dates back to October 6th last
year when The Guardian published an
article under the heading ‘LECTURERS
ENQUIRY.’ In the course of the article,
Anne Maclean, one of the five lecturers
from the Philosophy Department who
signed the original request for a formal
enquiry, was reported as saying: ‘It is
outrageous what is going on. If we cannot
stop this, then it is not worth anyone of
academic integrity staying on in academic
life.’ As a result of this remark, she was
suspended by the Principal of the College,
and a joint committee of representatives
from the College Council and Senate was
established to examine the case for her
dismissal. The charge: that she had attacked both the academic integrity of her
colleagues and the reputation of the College itself. (While the University is responsible for the maintenance of academic
standards, it is the colleges that employ
academic staff. Hence the bizarre situation
in which a member of staff following
University procedures for making complaints about academic standards can be
subject to dismissal proceedings brought
by a college, on the basis of making the
complaint. )
It is usual for the subjects of a complaint to be suspended while the complaint
is being investigated (in this case, Professor D.Z. Phillips, the Head of the Philoso50

phy Department, and Donald Evans, the
Director of the Head of the Philosophy
Department, and Donald Evans, the Director of the Centre for Philosophy and
Health Care). Here, however, it worked
the other way around. Under growing
pressure from the College, and without
any significant support from the A.U.T.,
Anne Maclean resigned; thereby becoming the second casualty of the affair. Almost immediately, the other two lecturers
at the centre of the controversy – Colwyn
Williamson and Michael Cohen – were
suspended: Williamson, under threat of
dismissal; Cohen under threat of a three
year ban on criticising the College.

Anne Maclean resigned. But unlike
Geoffery Hunt before her – who left the
previous academic year on grounds of his
lack of confidence in both the Head of the
Philosophy Department and the Director
of the Centre for Philosophy and Health
Care – her resignation had certain unusual
features. For not only was she effectively
forced out by the grossly unjust threat of
dismissal, but the terms of her ‘redundancy’ (at least, as revealed an unsigned
draft document) expressly forbid her:

(i) to take any legal proceedings or make
any claims against the College and/or
the University of Wales ortheirofficers, servants or agents in respect of
alleged cause or causes of action
(ii) to comment on or publish comment
or criticise the College, the Centre,
the University of Wales and/or its
officers, servants or agents, whether
publicly or privately
(iii) to keep the terms of this agreement
and its antecedent exchange of letters

It is this kind of ban which the College
now seems to be attempting to extend to
Williamson and (more temporarily) Cohen.

It is hard to think of a clearer example
of the enfringement of academic freedom.

As Professor John Griffith has written
with regard to the dismissal proceedings
against Anne Maclean: what we are seeing
is ‘the reaction of an authoritarian institution which seeks to defend itself by silencing its critics.’ In so doing, it is not only
violating the need for academic freedom
recognised in the 1988 Education Reform

Act section 202 (2) (a), it is also clearly
interfering with the education of students.

Thus, whilst Williamson and Cohen
remain suspended, pending the outcome
of the Enquiry finally announced by the
Vice-Chancellor (and promised nearly a
year ago), the students they have taught
will have to sit examinations for their
courses set by staff who did not teach
them. Nor, contrary to all examining procedures, will Cohen and Williamson be
allowed to take part in the marking of these
papers. It is rumoured, for example, that
Williamson’s Political Theory students will
be subjected to an examination set by
Professor Phillips, with whom he is in
dispute, and whose own approach to politics may in all fairness be described as
significantly different from Williamson’s.

How this can be fair to the students concerned, is hard to imagine. (Phillips, incidentally, is said to have had Radical Philosophy 56, with its initial report on
Swansea, temporarily removed from the
Support for Cohen and Williamson
from outside the University of Wales is
thankfully, growing. (The Philosophy
Departments at East Anglia, Kent and
Liverpool, for example, have given them
their unanimous backing.) But with doubts
about the character of the Enquiry, and the
College’s responsiveness to its results
should it not like them, remaining, it is
vital that the pressure is kept up. In particular, supporters are requested to help
encourage the A. U. T. to take a proper
interest in the affair, and behave accordingly.

Contributions to the Campaign should
be sent to the Swansea Three Defense
Committee at: 17 Bristol Road, Brighton
BN2 lAP. Cheques should be made payable to the Academic Standards Fighting
Fund. (It is hoped to launch a National
Campaign For Academic Standards and
Academic Freedom, to provide help for
others experiencing similar problems in
the current educational climate, next year.)
Pamphlets, by John Griffith and Cohen &
Williamson are available from the same
address. More pamphlets are forthcoming.

Peter Osborne
Radical Philosophy 58, Summer 1991



Saturday M !AN
arch :


, qu.ryint

deg served’


Radical Philo sophy 58 , S ummer 1991

Western Mail 12 DeC 199






Parataxis: modernism and modem writing
is a new journal devoted to the critical
rethinking of modernism and the publication of contemporary writing.

At a time when the concept of modernism has come to seem merely historical, and when the critical vocabulary of
modernism itself has been collapsed into
that of postmodernism, Parataxis aims to
aprovide substantial discussion of the
legacies of modernism, while refusing to
characterise modernism as that which is
simply past.

The journal will appear three times a
year: the first issue in Spring 1991.

The editors welcome ideas for potential contributions. These and other enquiries should be sent to the editors:

An International Conference
on Rights in China

Because of pressure of work, Martin Barker
has resigned from the Radical Philosophy
Editorial Collective, on which he has served
since 1977, including a long stint as reviews editor.

Readers may remember his articles on
‘Kant as a Problem for Marxism’ (RP 19);
‘Racism: The New Inheritors’ (RP 24);
‘Empiricism and Racism’ (RP 33) and ‘Mass
Media and Ideology’ (RP 46).

Martin’s editorial skill and energy is
now being focused on the new Magazine
For Cultural Studies.

Members of the editorial collective will
miss his incisive and sometimes controversial interventions in our debate. And all
of us are grateful for his many years of hard

Simon Jarvis, Sidney Sussex College,
Cambridge CB2 3HU
Drew Milne, Department of English,
Edinburgh University, DavidHume Tower,
George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9JX

Friday and Saturday, 21-22 June 1991
The School of Oriental and African
Studies, University of London
Organised by June 4th China Support
Group and The Contemporary China
Institute, SOAS
Sessions on: The Concept of Rights in
China; Censorship and Propoganda; Eastern Europe, the USSR and China; Chnia
and the UN.

For further details, please write to:

Rights in China Conference
clo The Contemporary China Institute
Thornhaugh Street
Russell Square

Dear Radical Philosophy,

Dear Radical Philosophy,

Dear Radical Philosophy,

I suppose a book as consciously against the
stream as my Socialist Reasoning can expect hostile and tangential reviews, and
perhaps I should not expect that, in a single
paragraph on it, any of the three main
arguments of the book should be mentioned
– viz. that the analysis of capitalism is the
argument for socialism, that this is logically
kosher since facts can imply values, and
that classical Marxism must be revised to
show the vital place of issues of peace,
ecology and thoroughgoing democracy in
that argument today. But David Archard’ s
claim (in ‘Friends and Enemies of Liberalism’, Radical Philosophy 57, p. 32) that
the book is ‘mainly directed at the left’ is
grossly misleading. All its criticisms of the
left are to be found on about 10% of its
pages, and, I hope, couched in language a
good sight more comradely than that habitually used by post-Marxists against those
of us who believe in class politics.

I regret but am not too surprised that
Andrew Collier objects to my review of his
Socialist Reasoning. He does himself describe two of his six chapters as ‘mainly
aimed at utopian currents on the recent left’

(p.175). However, my main argument was
not so much that his book argues with the
left, as that it argues on the left. In choosing
to show how we should argue for socialism
Collier presupposes rather than presents a
case for socialism. My own feeling – which
is not necessarily rooted in ‘post-Marxism’

or a scepticism about class politics – is that
this kind of attitude is a luxury political
philosophy cannot at present afford.

Thank you for the obituary of Louis
Althusser, written by Gregory Elliott in
Radical Philosophy 57. Lyrical, short and
profound. I would dedicate the following
lines from Fran<;ois Villon to our 'doux
maitre a la science pure et dure':

David Archard
Department of Philosophy and Politics
University of Ulster at Jordanstown

Pretentious maybe. But there are more
people around who deeply feel his loss
than one might imagine.

Je congnois que pauvres et riches,
Sages et fous, pretre et lais,
Nobles, vilains, larges et chiches,
Petits et grands, et beaux et laids,
Dames a rebrasses collets,
De quelconque condition,
Portant atours et bourrelets,
Mort saisit sans exception.

Andrew Coates
Ipswich, Suffolk

Andrew Collier
Department of Philosophy
University of Southampton

Radical Philosophy 58, Summer 1991

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