Protesting Ian Parker’s Suspension

Ian Parker

I have just received this statement about Ian Parker’s suspension from Manchester Metropolitan University via a Facebook notification, signed by China Mills. It is a shocking incident, of course, for those of us who know Ian or admire his work; but it certainly also demands much wider attention, outrage and solidarity. The significance of what is happening to Ian Parker right now extends far beyond our narrow ‘disciplinary’ or ‘subdisciplinary’ interests and collegial networks. It is a matter that should concern all of us working at universities today. The statement follows:

“Dearest friends, something incredibly shocking has happened. Ian Parker has been suspended from Manchester Metropolitan University. It has happened suddenly and unexpectedly, and students and staff at the University have been given little to no explanation as to why.

Ian was suspended from work after having been unable to arrange, with barely 18 hours notice, for a union official to come with him to hear a charge that the university said amounted to ‘gross professional misconduct’. What this seems to mean is that Ian raised concerns within the University about the problem of secrecy and control in the department in which he works, and was suspended for doing so. Ian has had to leave his office and key, been told not to contact University staff and students, and his access to his email has been suspended. For his students Ian has simply ‘disappeared’ overnight, and while he is keen to continue supervising and teaching, he is not allowed to.

I could never fully express what effect Ian’s sudden, shocking and completely unjustified suspension might mean for students at MMU and for the wider international academic community. Ian’s suspension is happening against a wider backdrop in the UK where while universities are now charging students £9000 a year (and much more for international students), they are also cutting essential resources, often meaning staff have to work harder and complain less. This means that those staff who defend University as a space for open and democratic deliberation are often put under pressure to remain silent. In fact another member of staff at MMU (and another member of the University and College Union- the UCU), Christine Vié, is also being victimised, and has been made compulsorily redundant (and there is an ongoing campaign to defend her).

We are in shock, but only if we speak openly together will we be in a position to challenge and change what is happening to all of us. Openness and democratic debate are the hallmarks of good education. Yet secrecy and silencing are key issues here. Ian has been silenced but his work continues to speak. Yesterday I looked at the principle aims of ‘Psychology, Politics, Resistance’, which Ian helped to set up in 1994 as a network of people who were prepared to oppose the abusive uses and oppressive consequences of psychology, to support individuals to challenge exploitation, to develop a collective active opposition to oppression, and to make this a key element in the education of all psychologists. So, let’s act together, and follow Ian’s example, and speak out – tell as many people as we can, and  come together collectively as an international critical community to call upon the management of MMU to come to a resolution of this problem and to reinstate Ian.

Messages of protest can be sent to the Vice-Chancellor John Brooks (c.j.green@mmu.ac.uk) and the Head of the Department of Psychology Christine Horrocks (c.horrocks@mmu.ac.uk). These messages can be copied as messages of solidarity to the MMU UCU chair Pura Ariza (p.ariza@mmu.ac.uk) and it is imperative that, at the same time, support should be stepped up to support Christine Vié (c.vie@mmu.ac.uk).

The postgraduate students at MMU are sending a letter to the Vice Chancellor, and there will be flyers and posters put up on campus, and call outs in lectures all next week. Please do send letters and emails, and tell as many people as you can.

We will keep you posted about further action, and do let us know if you have any ideas for how we can fight this together (because we can fight this together). Please feel free to email me china.t.mills@gmail.com.

In solidarity,

China Mills (alongside many of the students at MMU)”

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18 Responses to Protesting Ian Parker’s Suspension

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  4. To all those commenting on the lack of information-
    This is precisely the problem! The university has forbidden Ian from talking about the reasons for his suspension or contacting any of his collogues or students about this. As a student of Ian I know as much as you do- Ian has just disappeared from the university without any explanation from officials as to why this was done. This is of-course hurting us as students who depend on his supervision. This secrecy plays into the hand of the authorities as it obstructs our ability to act. We should at the very least (!!) demand an explanation for this. The very demand of not talking about the issue is weakening us all and is against human and workers’ rights. The university is currently targeting UCU (university and colleges union) activists and tries to hinder resistance by keeping us all in the dark. The only comment Ian was allowed to make appears in this link:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Discourse-Unit/147733115241781
    Please support the students of MMU in our struggle to get Ian back or at least be provided with a reasonable explanation as to why he was so abruptly removed from MMU- what are the allegations that justify such a harsh treatment and such a blow for our studies? why was it not possible to investigate this while Ian is still in place?
    In solidarity
    anat

  5. Julie says:

    Dear Desmond, No Carly Green is the VC’s secretary. It is better to send messages directly to the VC himself: john.brooks@mmu.ac.uk
    I am a union member at MMU and we are outraged by the shocking treatment that Ian has experienced. Bullying is the number one problem here and we have a managerial culture that is now out of control. We hope you can all support Ian and Christine Vie too: see https://www.ucu.org.uk/christinevie

  6. Ralph says:

    There is no info here on why he has been suspended. How can we protest when we don’t know the facts?

    • desmondpainter says:

      Ralph, one of the problems is that the university, and the head of the department in which Ian Parker works, are pleading ‘secrecy’. In other words, it is difficult, if not impossible to get more information; and Parker himself is not allowed to speak publically about what is happening. This gives the universitry much more power than he has; if we postpone protesting this until more information becomes available, we will just be playing into the hands of those who want to keep this a secret process. Therefore, the way I see it, one should protest this AT LEAST as an attempt to force the university to be transparent about this. If they believe they were justified in suspending Ian Parker, why not explain the situation to his colleagues?

      • Ralph says:

        Is there an official statement somewhere about this – either from Ian, or MMU? All I’ve seen is blogs making claims.

      • desmondpainter says:

        Ian Parker can’t make an official statement; the university won’t. I think this is part of what concerns people. The most official statement is the one by China Mills, quoted on my blog.

      • amanfromMars says:

        “Ian Parker can’t make an official statement” ……. desmondpainter says: October 8, 2012 at 5:06 am

        Of course he can make an official statement if he so chooses to be a standard for free thinking man. One ponders on the dilemma which has him choose to be otherwise whenever sharing ones’ voice and greater views, is so ridiculously easy …… just like as is being done here, and as Ian could so easily also do on any number of freely available supportive platforms.

        Whenever academe and research uncover fundamental power shifts in the nature of reality and man’s understanding of the greater and absolute unilateral control which can be applied and exercised with that understanding, is it always going to attract the attention of services and wannabe agents of national security and secretive power
        brokerage.

        And that is as much as one would need to know about such matters unless one needs to know more ….. and that will provided to one if it be deemed necessary.

  7. Ralph says:

    How can we protest when we don’t know what the reasons for the suspension are? Wouldn’t such a protest justifiably be seen as a knee-jerk reaction?

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  9. I have known Ian as a colleague at CFAR (Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research – a London based Lacanian school) for about 10 years now. I’m sure he would have no hesitation in speaking his mind if something was seriously amiss in the University’s procedures or whatever it it is. Do we have any more information yet regarding his ‘crime’?

  10. hannah says:

    one correction: the email for the vice chancellor is actually c.j.green@mmu.ac.uk

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