Frequently Asked Questions
In the lead up to calling for a Vote of No Confidence, staff asked one another many questions. As the Vote of Confidence has now been launched, we hope to address these and more.
Who can vote in the VoNC?The vote is open to all academic, professional, administrative and technical staff currently employed in academic departments.
We have chosen to scope the vote in this way as it best represents the members of Collective Change and the Professors Forum who are calling the vote, and because we are on the front lines of delivering Goldsmiths’ teaching and research.
What is the point of the VoNC?A successful VoNC will exert enormous pressure on the SMT and Council to establish fairer, more transparent and effective consultation mechanisms.
It is common for VoNCs to lead to changes of senior personnel, often because those people themselves reflect on whether their position is sustainable after losing the confidence of staff. However, this is not our focus. Instead, Council must reflect on the distance between SMT and staff, and the disastrous decisions taken by SMT, along with their disregard of and lack of respect for staff. At the very least, Council must institute new governance structures that give staff a voice in all major decisions (see below). In calling for a VoNC we aim to force a ‘pause’ to allow for meaningful discussion and consultation with staff and students. More transparent and effective consultation is crucial to ensuring staff have the support needed in the form of better outward facing communications, flexibility to grow existing programmes and develop new ones. Obstructive management approaches are impeding student recruitment, future student employability and research funding.
Won’t voting that we have no confidence in the SMT lead to reprisals against individuals or departments?No. The vote is anonymous, and cannot be tracked by departments.
You can safely vote as you see fit, because there is no way of tracing votes to individuals or departments. Your email has been obtained from academic department staff lists including all academic, professional, administrative and technical staff in academic departments. The votes are protected by Choice Voting Ltd using 256bit encryption that keeps the ballot secure. They only report vote tallies, so there is no way to tell how individuals or departments have voted.
Isn’t it dangerous to have a vote of no confidence now, and potentially damaging to the college reputation, recruitment and so on?It’s more dangerous to wait – we need to act before the SMT takes a loan that locks in its ‘Recovery Plan’ as a condition.
SMT is planning to table a plan for a large loan to the University Council on November 26, along with a ‘Recovery Framework’ that will lock us into far reaching and dramatic changes. As usual, they have released no details about this plan, but will include extensive job losses and further centralisation along the lines foreshadowed by Evolving Goldsmiths (now renamed under ‘Recovery Plan’). Losing staff, cutting courses and departments, and centralising management will all damage Goldsmiths’ culture and reputation far more than a successful VoNC. Once a large loan is taken from the bank and commitments made to restructuring, any subsequent action on our part can only be defensive. That is why the vote is being called now.
If the loan and restructuring doesn’t go ahead, won’t Goldsmiths be unable to pay its bills?No. The College could apply for a smaller bridging loan while consulting with us about the way forward – including the size of a follow-on load
The situation around a loan is very unclear because SMT is so uncommunicative. In our understanding, the loan being proposed a) is inflated – for instance, it includes the budget for the Enterprise Hub @£8.8 million – and b) this more-than-needed amount will lock College into unnecessary and irreversible restructuring obligations. The VONC is asking for a pause to recalibrate our financial position and options in the immediate and longer term. This requires Management to be absolutely clear and open with us about the exact level of deficit predicted for 2021, and the required level of loan therefore – it is clear already that this could be much lower than originally predicted. Whilst time is short, we believe that proper consultation will defend our future and demonstrate our collective recognition of the need to recover our financial stability and ensure our ability to grow our way out of debt, whilst too many cuts will effectively make growth impossible.
Without leadership at this critical time won’t College face even greater difficulties?We are not asking for resignation, we are asking for proper consultative process, and immediately.
What is your alternative to SMT decision-making, and when you insist on consultation, what is it that you propose?We are calling for an inclusive, accessible, rigorous, participatory and accountable consultation process that can really influence SMT decisions.
Any form of meaningful consultation on a Recovery Plan that impacts on the future of Goldsmiths and the entirety of its community must adhere to the following key principles: Be open and inclusive of all staff and students; Be fully accessible in content and timing, taking account of equality and diversity concerns; Be fair and rigorous, making use of evidence, listening to and seeking to understand differing expertise, experience and perspectives; Enable genuine participatory decision making rather than weak forms of consultation based on predetermined decisions; Include mechanisms of accountability so that consultation is formally part of Goldsmiths structures of governance; Seek to save jobs and advance the teaching and research integrity of Goldsmiths in a manner that builds on staff expertise and will grow the institution.