Staff News or SMT News?

Back in July, departmental Change Rapporteurs contacted Communications to see if we could get an item on the Collective Change process in the weekly Staff News. In doing so, we aimed for “transparency, inclusivity and accessibility” within the College–and stated us much in our correspondence. We were keen to share our report as widely as possible with colleagues and build the momentum of this unique “ground up” initiative. Our request did result in an item in the Staff News, but it was not the item we were expecting. Read our response to the outcome of our request:

To: Deputy Director of Communications; CC:  GUCU; Professors’ Forum  

Dear Deputy Director of Communications, 

Representatives of the Collective Change Working Group are shocked and disappointed by how you handled our request to share a note on the Collective Change process in Staff News.  

To recount:  

  1. Rather than use the copy that we had provided to you —a succinct 2 sentences in which we describe the activity to be publicised to colleagues across the College—you wrote your own text, which you published without the consultation we had explicitly asked for (“If you make any changes to this text, please agree them with us beforehand”);
  1. You informed us of the content that was to be shared in Staff News, and in the Warden’s Update, at 5.18 pm, 9 minutes before this content was published across the College, and only in response to our pressing emails, directly disallowing any possible response before publication;
  1. In relation to the above, you have directly contravened and undermined the terms of our request, it appears, to control the narrative associated with the Collective Change process. You reframed our activity so as to substantially change its meaning, assimilating our narrative into one decided behind closed doors: 
    1. In the first instance, you wanted to “share the collective change proposals in Staff New when they have been discussed by Academic Board” in late September, even though the Collective Change consultations took place from May to July. This would have associated Collective Change with the centralised process of Academic Board, of which it is not a part as such;
    2. As a result, your copy misleads the Goldsmiths community in the following ways: 
      1. Collective Change is not part of the Warden’s Update “to consider change at Goldsmiths, and how we can ensure that all voices are heard as we begin a collective discussion over the future of the College.” 
      2. Collective Change is not an“independent group of colleagues” but a consultation process, as outlined in our documents. The Change Rapporteurs for respective departments and institutes constitute a Working Group, assembling ideas and making a communications process accessible and transparent. 
  1. You repeatedly dissuaded us from approaching Staff News as a forum for staff communication about our consultative process by taking a recalcitrant rather than co-operative communication style, effectively stonewalling our requests for communication and representation within the College. For example, you rejected our enquiry into Staff News outright, stating that “this isn’t something we’d look to publish on an institutional platform or include in Staff News”, without further clarification, enquiry or consideration (what isn’t “something”?). 

In this context we would like to point out that it is our understanding that Staff News—named as such—should represent our voice as staff of the institution, i.e. the legitimacy of Staff News lies with us.  

Moving forward, we reiterate that we want to work with Communications in order to create a transparent and democratic channel for college-wide communications. We suggest setting up a meeting to establish appropriate protocols to ensure this appropriation and misrepresentation will not be repeated, but also to establish some understanding of how our collective consultative process works and will be taken forward. (Details of this process so far are outlined in our first report.) 

On behalf of the Collective Change Rapporteurs  

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