February 14, 2007
Sally Hunt or Roger Kline - Tweedle Dum & Tweedle Dee [and yes, there is a third candidate - Peter Jones]
It is almost certain that Sally Hunt will win the election for General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU). She will have done so without mentioning at all the 'B' word (Bullying).
The vote of course is not compulsory and chances are that since none of the two candidates (Sally Hunt, Roger Kline) have 'excited' us with their promises, the turn out (return of ballots from the membership) is likely to be low. An early indication of this is the following:
'...it is a shame only 12 of the 600 UCU members at Westminster have turned out to hear them. But professional troupers perform however small the house. And Kline and Hunt are used to it: attendance at hustings everywhere has been worryingly low, though 50 turned up at Sheffield...' The Guardian
As members of the union (UCU), we have a number of options:
1. Vote for Sally Hunt.
2. Vote for Roger Kline.
3. Don't vote at all - as some argue, if we vote we are only encouraging them - or
4. Write on the ballot paper 'WHAT ABOUT WORKPLACE BULLYING IN ACADEMIA' - which of course will make the vote invalid.
Since it is a foregone conclusion that Sally Hunt will win the election, our position is to vote for none of them and to 'spoil' the ballot paper by writing your own statement on the ballot paper against workplace bullying in academia. This may not change the course of history, but it may - it just may - get the scrutineers on both camps to think - we hope - about the issue for twenty seconds. Of course the more spoiled ballots they count, the better.
Ballot papers have to be returned by March 7, and the result is out on March 9. No newspaper, no union official, no representative of Sally or Roger will ever acknowledge such spoiled ballots, but a statement has to be made. In effect, both candidates are fighting a turf war with plenty of uninspiring rhetoric for us the docile voters.
If you are concerned about workplace bullying in academia, then make a statement. Don't abstain. Don't vote for either one of the candidates, it only encourages them. Vote against workplace bullying in academia. Use your ballot to make a principled statement - this is our position.
We have received a number of posts, comments, emails reminding us that there are in fact three candidates for the position of general secretary of UCU: