- University of Leicester UCU Branch Committee
- Dr Furaha Asani, University of Leicester
- Professor Simon Lewis, University College London and University of Leeds
- Professor Athina Karatzogianni, University of Leicester
- Dr Leon Rocha, University of Lincoln and UCU NEC
- Professor Martin Parker, University of Bristol
- Mandeep Rupra, UCU Black Members Standing Committee
- Professor Gavin Brown, University of Leicester
- Dr Jo Edge, University of Manchester and UCU NEC
- Dr Keir Milburn, University of Leicester
- Professor Jeremy Gilbert, University of East London
- Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins, University of Warwick
- Dr Claire English, University of the West of Scotland
- Stuart Braithwaite, Mogwai/Rock Action Records
- Yoni Wolf, Why?/Anticon
- Dr Camille Barbagallo, Women’s Strike Assembly
- Dr Craig Gent, Novara Media
- Professor Massimo De Angelis, University of East London
- Deborah Hermanns, Momentum NCG
- Dr David Harvie, University of Leicester and UCU NEC
- Dr Marco Checchi, De Montfort University
- Dr Janna Graham and Dr Susan Kelly, Goldsmiths, University of London
- Dr Hannah Boast, University of Warwick
- Dr J.T. Wolfenden, Durham University
- Dr Chris Grocott, University of Leicester
- Professor Nicky Priaulx, Cardiff University
- Dr Thomas Swann, Loughborough University
- Dr Susanne Hakenbeck, University of Cambridge
- Professor Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge
- Dr Mark Pendleton, University of Sheffield and UCU NEC
- Dr Sophia Lycouris, Edinburgh College of Art
- Dr Emma Kennedy, University of Greenwich
- Dr Eleanor Jones, University of Southampton
- Dr Chris Williams, Open University
- Liz Yeates, University of Leicester
- Dr Helen Eborall, University of Edinburgh
- Rob Clarke, University of Leicester
- Dr Maddalena Tacchetti, University of Nottingham
- Dr Rohit K. Dasgupta, Loughborough University/Labour and Co-operative Party
- Professor Steve Brown, Nottingham Trent University
- Dr Laura Chuhan Campbell, Durham University
- Dr Dave Ashby, University of Leicester
University of Leicester UCU Branch
Statement from Leicester UCU Committee, 4 August 2020
“We’re pleased to announce that the committee of Leicester UCU today [4 August 2020] endorsed branch co-secretary Gareth Brown in his bid to become UCU’s vice-president.
You can read more here about Gareth’s campaign and his vision for our union. You can also follow him on Twitter.”
Dr Furaha Asani
Migrant, researcher, teacher, mental health advocate, writer; currently project officer, University of Leicester; @DrFuraha_Asani
As a precarious migrant worker at the University of Leicester, I have been going through a very tough battle with the Home Office over the past few months. Once he heard about my case, Gareth sprang into action to support me. Gareth provided friendship, solidarity, and tangible help in the form of calling on support from University of Leicester colleagues and from the wider UCU community. Gareth oversaw the drafting of letters, he sat in many meetings with other activists who supported me, and he handled as many UCU administration processes for me as he could. Through my case, Gareth has demonstrated allyship towards migrant workers within Higher Education. Further, his philosophy of allyship extends to precarious migrants outside of the academy. Gareth has been a competent caseworker handling my case, and has shown genuine dedication towards resisting the Hostile Environment within Higher Education. I have every confidence in Gareth’s ability to be our UCU Vice President.
Professor Simon Lewis
Universities are a key player in the unfolding climate emergency. At their best, they foster research and teaching that both helps us understand and predict what is happening, and helps societies transition to a zero-emissions future and invest to adapt to climate impacts that are already locked in. But at their worst, universities perpetuate practices that threaten our collective future: infrastructure developments that pay little attention to energy-efficiency or wider sustainability; ongoing research for fossil-fuel extraction; USS’s continued investment in oil companies; curricula that serve the past, not the future; the list could go on.
Facing intersecting global crises, universities must become an unambiguous force for good. I believe our union must step up to this challenge too, forcing our employers to go further, to become more ambitious in their responses to the challenges we face. I am therefore delighted that Gareth Brown—whom I have known as an environmental activist for two decades—is standing to become VP of UCU. I have no doubt of his sincerity on this issue—and on other issues of social justice. I endorse his candidacy.
Professor Athina Karatzogianni
As an active member of several digital activist networks, I found myself in hot water with my university. I shall not forget Gareth’s invaluable support as my case worker during that period. It was only due to his crucial, well-informed, and impeccably timed interventions that the case was swiftly dropped. An anecdotal moment I always mention in my own retelling of this story is Gareth handing out a printed copy of the whistleblowing policy to Human Resources! Gareth is an ethically sound, open-minded and truly charismatic colleague, with a solid record of union activism, and proven strategic leadership. His support to several of our colleagues over the years is legendary, and he is respected widely across our institution, as well as the activist community in Leicester. It would be a significant asset for our union for Gareth to be elected in this post.
Dr Leon Rocha
Senior Lecturer in Chinese History and Society, University of Lincoln; Lincoln UCU branch committee; co-founder of USSbriefs; UCU National Executive Committee, HE UK-elected; Member of the #Gareth4VP campaigning team; @acupunctureUSS
As a member of staff at a Post-92 university, I am endorsing Gareth Brown to be the next Vice President of UCU. As Gareth points out, the presidential team undertakes several crucial roles in our union, including taking part in negotiations with our employers as well as informing members on pressing issues in our sector. I am tremendously impressed by Gareth’s breadth of knowledge of our sector; he takes an evidence-based approach to political change and understands how problems with workload, stress, and mental health are especially acute at Post-92 institutions. I trust Gareth that, if elected to UCU VP, he will protect the interests of our most vulnerable colleagues and universities.
Two-thirds of our universities are likely to fail their 2020 targets for the reduction of carbon emissions. UCU has an enormous role to play to safeguard the future of our next generation—their education and their very existence—and I would like to see Gareth bring his wealth of experience as an environmental activist to drive the union forward in confronting frankly the biggest threat looming over all of us—irreversible damange from climate change.
Professor Martin Parker
I worked at Leicester in the School of Management for many years and got to know Gareth first as a PhD student, then colleague, then UCU rep. His practical, friendly and effective approach to organising won him many friends and I am very happy to endorse him for VP of UCU. The privatisation of the UK Higher Education has been largely unopposed for decades, and we need a strong union to push back against the idea that universities are merely players in markets for students, for grants and for academic publications. Higher Education should be a right for all, and universities should be producing and sharing knowledge that will help our society thrive in an uncertain future. In order to help to deal with the challenges that face us today we need principled and smart people like Gareth at the forefront of our union.
Working in the academy, as a woman of colour, comes with a range of challenges in relation to navigating systemic racism and whiteness. As a race equity specialist, my experience of the academy consisted of daily microaggressions and racial harassment, which resulted in me seeking support from my local UCU branch.
From my first conversation with Gareth I knew how seriously he took his role as a case worker and that he was a dedicated trade unionist. He demonstrated care, allyship and was extremely thorough in his advice and support. He understood my experience contributed to wider issues of institutional racism in the academy and ensured that I was given all the possible options when considering what to do. Gareth really does live his values of believing that the sector should treat students and staff with care and compassion and as someone who has worked to champion social justice issues for over two decades, I’m pleased to support Gareth’s candidacy for UCU Vice President. I believe Gareth will work to create real change and ensure social justice issues are at the core of UCU’s work.
Professor Gavin Brown
As a branch officer, Gareth provides exactly the kind of leadership that UCU needs at the moment. He is a hard-working and supportive case-worker, an excellent negotiator, and plays a vital role in developing the strategy of the branch at the University of Leicester. Gareth’s trade unionism is rooted in the grassroots of our union, but draws on a long engagement with a wide variety of social movements. I have witnessed close at hand his capacity for thinking creatively about how to run successful, vibrant campaigns and industrial action in the sector. We need a leadership that is committed to developing creative new tactics, alongside and beyond traditional strike action, which can help to win a more equal, healthy, and just education system. I’m very happy that Gareth Brown is standing for the UCU Vice President (HE) position and I’m delighted to endorse his candidacy.
Dr Jo Edge
Manuscripts Cataloguer, University of Manchester; UCU National Executive Committee, Representative of Women’s Members (HE); co-organiser of MadCovid; Member of the #Gareth4VP campaigning team; @hagenilda
I should have met Gareth in person by now, but COVID-19 came along and changed things so quickly, and so profoundly. Earlier this year, he told me he was going to run for VP. Quickly, we followed each other on social media, and had soon met up via video to discuss his campaign. I am proud to be on Gareth’s campaign team and I endorse him wholeheartedly for the role of Vice President, at a time when the challenges facing our sector and our union are unprecedented.
What I have learned about Gareth from the few months we’ve been communicating digitally is that he is first and foremost extremely kind. Whether it’s leaping in to help colleagues with union advice, or asking after people’s wellbeing during lockdown, or spending time with his kids—Gareth is there to help his friends and comrades. Kindness is an extremely underrated quality. As a member of the academic precariat with serious and enduring mental illness, having someone like Gareth as Vice President of our union would place people like myself in very safe hands.
Gareth’s story from precariously-employed to successfully making the case to his employers to be made permanent—and doing the same for countless other colleagues at Leicester as a union rep—is nothing short of inspiring. He has lived and survived precarity in the neoliberal university, so he understands the precise nature of the challenges that precariously-employed staff like myself are facing. But Gareth is not new to this: he has a long and successful history of activism in a variety of fields; and the creative methods of mobilising he suggests in his ‘Our Union, Our Sector, Our Society’ document (which I encourage you to read at your earliest convenience) show precisely why he should be our next VP.
Dr Keir Milburn
The last few years has seen a fundamental reshaping of politics. Young people have moved to the Left and a new generation Left activists have fought to develop a new approach to politics adequate to their own experiences. Something similar has been happening within UCU as a new generation of activists emerged during the 2018 USS strike.
Gareth Brown, who I have worked with professionally and politically for twenty years, has been central to that emergence. He epitomises that generation’s strategic but pragmatic approach to politics, activism and workplace organising. He will bring the same tireless, good natured attitude to UCU Vice President as he has displayed as my UCU branch secretary, case work officer and one of the lead negotiators with management. I wholeheartedly endorse Gareth Brown for UCU Vice President.
Professor Jeremy Gilbert
Professor of Cultural and Political Theory, University of East London; author of Twenty-First Century Socialism and Common Ground: Democracy and Collectivity in an Age of Individualism; co-host of the #ACFM Podcast; @jemgilbert
I know Gareth Brown through both his academic work and his activism. Indeed, in 2016 I examined Gareth’s PhD. It was a highly original and thoughtful exploration of some key concepts in radical thought and practice, and exemplary of the kind of thinking that a twenty-first century labour movement needs. Gareth’s politics are democratic, libertarian and socialist; and we need an energetic union executive that is willing to stand up for such principles without falling into old-fashioned left sectarianism.
Dr Leon Sealey-Huggins
Assistant Professor, Global Sustainable Development Department, University of Warwick; @leon_ayo
I am delighted to be able to endorse Gareth who I have known for over a decade from my days of activism and organising in Leeds. We have shared organising spaces on migrants’ rights; anti-racism; climate justice and workers’ rights, among many other things. I have always found Gareth to be a warm and compassionate comrade who retains these qualities at the same time as fostering a resolute dedication to navigating the nuances of progressive political action. His capacities for genuinely grassroots organising are evident in the number of organisations and campaigns he’s helped to build and successfully win. His commitment to consensus approaches to political organising is exactly what we need as we face down attempts by our employers to further sabotage our pay and conditions as this crisis continues to unfold. I am certain that Gareth would fulfil the role of VP with gusto, helping to embed inclusive organising principles into UCU’s practice.
Dr Claire English
Lecturer in Management and Organisation at University of the West of Scotland; Women’s Strike Assembly & My Mum Is On Strike organiser; @clairelouenglis
Now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, more than any other time in my memory—we need to keep care at the centre of our politics. As we watch our casualised and fixed term colleagues with caring responsibilities, often women and people of colour, get thrown under the bus for the sake of the bottom line, we need to keep a politics of care at the forefront of our union work.
Having organised with Gareth Brown for most of the last decade in political groups that want a societal wide revaluing of care labour, I’m urging you to vote him in as UCU Vice President. His undeniably strong record defending colleagues at the University of Leicester, using a real generosity in his case work, shows us that union work is on the picket, in the workplace, and in the way we care for each other.
I couldn’t be prouder to support him in his campaign.
Mogwai/Rock Action Records; @plasmatron
I have known Gareth Brown in a professional and personal capacity over the last few decades working in music and found him to be a trustworthy and dependable character.
I have no doubts that he would excel in this role and be a credit to the organisation.
Photo Credit: Alberto Garcia.
In the time that I’ve spent around Gaz, he’s always been a vibrant, creative and positive force. I remember the first tour we did together in like 2001 I think, the band he was in at the time was in some tumult, having shouting matches and even I remember the bass player kicking the drummer in the family jewels—or maybe it was the other way around? Anyway, Gaz never seemed to be a part of the drama. And in fact, he seemed to be a benevolent force for healing and reconciliation. I don’t see Gaz too often since we live across the world from each other, so he mostly lives in my memory. When I think of him, he’s always got a smile and is always wide awake and ready to do what needs to be done.
Photo credit: SanderSpek.
Dr Camille Barbagallo
Women’s Strike Assembly
The COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have a devastating effect on Higher Education. Now more than ever we need leadership in our union that is committed to building capacity for organising, fighting for the rights of migrants and precariously employed workers, and building a stronger alliance between students and staff. The next five years will see fundamental change in our sector and we need to be in a position to collectively influence and set the agenda for the future of higher education.
Having organised alongside Gareth Brown in radical politics, in feminist social movements and as a labour organiser, I can’t think of a better candidate for UCU Vice President. His dedication to supporting rank-and-file members, his commitment to and understanding of the potential of social movements and his decades of experience in organising are the skills and expertise that he brings to the role.
Dr Craig Gent
Gaz and I have known each other and organised together for many years and I’m really happy to endorse him for VP. We met in the anticapitalist movement, and he won’t mind me saying we didn’t always agree at first(!) but we had shared goals and Gaz always impressed upon me the idea that political differences should be valued and seen as something productive. During my years in UCU, before I left the education sector, I knew Gaz as a keen and dedicated organiser who was instrumental in galvanising and developing the branch at Leicester. We were both enthusiastic in the rank-and-file movement during the USS strikes and supporters of Jo Grady’s campaign for UCU General Secretary. Most importantly for a candidate for VP, Gaz understands the importance of understanding education struggles collectively and ensuring all corners of the union—FE, HE, ACE and Prison Education—have a stake and a voice.
Professor Massimo De Angelis
Professor of Political Economy and Social Change and Co-Director of the Centre for Social Justice and Change, University of East London; author of Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism
I know of Gareth Brown and his work through our mutual interest in the theory and practice of the commons and commoning. Universities and colleges in the United Kingdom are in desperate need of some commons thinking, so I’m really happy that Gareth is standing to be Vice President of our union. I will be voting for him.
Momentum (National Coordinating Group); @Deborah_Malina
I know Gareth Brown through his political education work. He is part of a collective that produces political strategy games and in my role as lead organiser of Britain’s largest political education festival, The World Transformed. I witnessed Gareth using those games to train hundreds of activists, union members and other ordinary people in thinking creatively and strategically. The union movement desperately needs to think creatively around its strategy and I feel sure that Gareth will facilitate this if elected UCU Vice President.
Dr David Harvie
Associate Professor in Finance and Political Economy, University of Leicester; Leicester UCU communications officer; UCU National Executive Committee, HE Midlands; Member of the #Gareth4VP campaigning team; @DavidHarvieUCU
I’m excited my friend, colleague and Leicester UCU comrade is standing to be Vice President—becoming President—of our union. In my four months as a member of UCU’s National Executive Committee, I’ve learned the importance of chairing to that committee’s functioning.
On many occasions at University of Leicester—in union meetings and in meeting with managers— I’ve witnessed Gareth’s patience, his calm-but-firm manner and his command of detail, essential qualities for competent and productive facilitation of discussion and decision-making in UCU’s governing bodies.
These qualities also make Gareth a superb negotiator. I doubt even he can count his casework successes—and he’s always the person I’d want next to me, when the Vice Chancellor’s sitting opposite. With so many disputes currently open with our employers at national level—casualisation, equalities, pensions, pay, not to mention the pandemic response—I want Gareth to be one of the people sitting on our side of the table.
Dr Marco Checchi
Lecturer in Business and Management, De Montfort University; De Montfort UCU Membership Secretary; @thisisntatweet
I met Gareth almost ten years ago. I had multiple precarious jobs at University of Leicester and I was very reluctant to join the union because I felt UCU was too busy defending their permanent members. Gareth showed me that grassroots action can turn things around: we all have to build our union from the ground. I’ve been an activist in UCU from that moment onwards.
Since I moved to DMU, Gareth has always helped and supported me and my branch. Branches in Post-92 universities often struggle to recruit active members and build a strong union: we need support and solidarity. In Leicester, we’re just a few miles away and yet we felt so far. Gareth was instrumental in bridging that gap and get the two committees together to coordinate struggles. This should become a model for UCU: building communities of solidarity and struggle!
During the last strike Gareth helped to organise a noisy gang of activists to come and support our picket. It was a wonderful moment of solidarity between our two branches. This is the kind of unity and solidarity that our union needs! I’m enthusiastic to see Gareth standing as VP. I’m sure all UCU members at DMU still remember Gareth leading our march with his megaphone singing ‘Solidarity forever’: we need activists like Gareth!
Dr Janna Graham and Dr Susan Kelly
Dr Janna Graham, Lecturer in Visual Cultures and Dr Susan Kelly, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art Critical Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London (@susanakelly)
UCU has changed enormously in the last few years and people like Gareth Brown working at the grassroots, and with tonnes of experience and knowledge from social movements have been at the heart of this. Gareth is an incredibly generous, smart, open-minded person, and has for years been deeply involved with feminist politics, the politics of care and movements against precarity. Gareth brings a fantastic combination of attributes–he has great vision and strategic insight, but also works tirelessly on casework and on the nitty gritty of union organising. There are significant struggles facing our sector in the coming years and we would be incredibly lucky to have Gareth as VP to us to steer through them. We support him wholeheartedly.
Dr Hannah Boast
UCU member, University of Warwick; @hannahkateboast
As a UCU member who’s spent years on fixed-term contracts, I want a Vice President who shares my experiences and has a history of winning for casualised staff.
Gareth’s record at Leicester is incredible and we need his skills at the national level. He brings a wealth of experience from activism outside academia at a time when we need new and creative strategies in our union actions.
Dr J.T. Wolfenden
Assistant Professor in Classics, Durham University; @jtwolfenden
I am endorsing Gareth Brown to be the next Vice President of UCU in my capacity as a member of staff at Durham University.
During the last few years, I have seen a rise in activism amongst my colleagues and, concomitant with that, a growing concern about how we can address serious issues within the academy. Many of us are particularly troubled by the rise in precarity and casualised labour within the sector. I experienced early career precarity and know first-hand how difficult it can be to try and build a career when your every step is dogged by uncertainty and you don’t know where you’ll be living or if you’ll even have a job a few months down the line. Things have got increasingly worse since I was in a fixed-term position, and they are not getting any better. This can’t go on. And we need strong, innovative, and thoughtful leadership if we are to do something about it. We need leadership that won’t be hierarchical, won’t see junior and fixed-term staff as collateral damage, and won’t see their attrition as a natural part of the cycle of academic life. We need leadership that isn’t compromised before the candidate has even taken up their role, and which won’t be side-tracked into longstanding and tiresome factional conflicts. We need Gareth!
Gareth is an exceptional fit for this role because he is a lovely combination of creative and practical. His kind good sense has made a massive difference to those colleagues he has dealt with as a caseworker. He is resourceful and insightful and an inveterate problem-solver. Moreover, his holistic and wide-ranging understanding of academia and his determination to make a difference have led to the innovative proposals he has made in his UCU vision statement. During many years as an activist, Gareth has shown himself time and again to be clear-sighted, outward facing, and deeply principled. His kindness and commitment to change shine through and inform his practice at every level. These are qualities that we need our leadership to possess, if we are to go forward and thrive as a union. Gareth Brown is an outstanding candidate for VP and I endorse his candidacy without reservation.
Dr Chris Grocott
Gareth Brown and I teach a first year Introduction to Management module. As our head of division put it, ‘You are teaching something useful to students, that will help them understand the world around them, rather than reproducing the ideological clap-trap found in most management textbooks’. Gareth’s humanity, practical organising experience and deep understanding of the sociological issues facing our society and our union is why I am voting him number 1 in the UCU Vice President election. His keen eye for the dangers of clap-trap and cant, and his warm encouragement of solidarity and care inspires me greatly.
Professor Nicky Priaulx
Professor of Law, Cardiff University; Academics for Pensions Justice in UK Higher Education; co-author (with Liz Morrish) of ‘Pressure Vessels II: An update on mental health among higher education staff in the UK’; @thetroutpouts
Amongst a field of impressive candidates standing for UCU VP, Dr Gareth Brown stands out. I don’t know Gareth personally, but I have scrutinised the VP election material looking for evidence of the skills and outlook that I believe will help the process of transforming UCU into a contemporary body capable of addressing myriad fierce challenges. The attacks on workers’ rights in the post-compulsory education sector align us with struggles locally, nationally and globally which are aimed at protecting people and planet.
But – we need to overcome our own internal struggles to become a more effective union and part of a wider movement. Gareth’s frank assessment of UCU and the steps that we now need to take, alongside his broader profile, make me very certain that he is the right person for UCU VP. A knowledgeable academic practitioner and active member of his local UCU executive, Gareth also brings rich and relevant experience from his work with Earth First! Gareth is well situated to help us develop creative strategies and to forge partnerships capable of powerfully addressing the erosion of workers’ rights in our sector and to operate for the benefit of wider communities we aspire for our sector to serve. Vote for Gareth!
Dr Thomas Swann
Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Loughborough University; Author of Anarchist Cybernetics: Control and Communication in Radical Politics
As we move into very uncertain and unprecedented times for post-16 education, more than anything UCU needs to be innovative, both in how it fights to secure better working conditions for everyone in the sector and in how it functions as a democratic, member-led organisation. I’ve known Gareth Brown for almost a decade, and there are few people I can think of better suited to this challenge than him.
Having seen the various dynamics at play during the 2018 strike and the more recent waves of industrial action, I worry that UCU has for too long worked solely for a certain section of those employed in the sector. That needs to change. We need to draw on more radical traditions of trade union and social movement organising. All members of the union need to be put at the centre of decision making and a strong, informed, engaged and most of all united membership has to be the basis upon which we move forward to face the challenges of the coming years.
Gareth is at heart someone committed to bringing different perspectives and positions together, to find common ground but to not compromise on principles in doing so. With Gareth as Vice President I believe UCU will be in the best position possible to not only protect what we already have but to achieve far more, and to ensure that all members are beneficiaries of that.
Dr Susanne Hakenbeck
There’s a been a lot of critical reflection recently about UCU’s democratic structure, factions and strategy. It’s very necessary and I’m glad this is happening. We’re having these useful discussions also because of the current UCU VP elections. This is a good opportunity to think about our priorities for UCU in the future. I’ve found the VP hustings really informative.
I’m particularly interested in the core function of a union–that workers organise themselves in their workplaces to exert pressure in the bosses to improve their working conditions. That’s why I like working in my branch. ‘Union = organised workers’ sounds obvious, but of course it’s not easy, and that’s why UCU has so many internal struggles about democracy. Is it better to have direct democracy via branch delegates who vote at congresses? Is it better to have more e-ballots so more members can have their say? Is voting at a branch meeting that has a quorum of 25 in a branch with membership of 1,600 truly democratic? I’ve found the work by Jane McAlevey and others doing similar work very helpful in thinking about what a union is, what it can do and how we can learn to organise better. I’m so glad UCU has arranged this masterclass with Jane on 2 September. In Cambridge UCU we are trying to apply some of these organising principles in our ‘CUCU Conversations’ summer campaign, pushed along by our brilliant membership secretary Steph and her international union contacts.
Returning to the VP elections. In making my decision, I particularly focused on what candidates have to say about organising and bottom-up decision making. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness and clarity with which the candidates put their views across. I decided to vote for Gareth Brown because I think he’s aligned most clearly with my own view of a member-led and member-organised union. Go Gareth!
Professor Priyamvada Gopal
Dr Mark Pendleton
Senior Lecturer in Japanese Studies, University of Sheffield; Sheffield UCU branch secretary; UCU National Executive Committee, HE UK-elected; UCU LGBT+ Members’ Standing Committee Member; @mark_pendleton
For weeks I have been considering how to vote in the UCU Vice President elections. There are several credible candidates offering different visions for our union. I attended three hustings and kept an open mind about who to place 1 and whether to preference. I voted this morning.
We need a VP who gets equalities issues and can argue for them publicly and consistently from the heart. That has to mean more than just copying content from other trade unions. Nobody understands every issue fully, but members and standing committees can advise and support. We need a candidate who will stand up for what’s right, and not equivocate on combatting oppression or seek to hear “both sides” when discussing our members’ fundamental rights to exist and live freely. Trans people’s lives are not a matter for debate.
We also must recognise that we do not know everything in the UK. We might just learn from the actions of women workers of colour overseas (or our own migrant members) if we didn’t dismiss different approaches to trade unionism as lesser than “real” action. We also need a VP who understands that our membership is strong and creative and can be more so! We need to work to build power across the union through developing real and effective organising programmes.
Members from across our union also have skills, experience and knowledge that we should be open to seriously engaging with. We will never be effective if we only listen to those who already caucus with us. That is doubly so for the VP, who has to work closely with the General Secretary and officials, as well as elected negotiators and reps, including by chairing often contentious meetings. We need critical voices, but also those who can work to constructively bring different people together.
And finally we need a VP who can be reflexive and open to change when needed. That means having the capacity to consider that we sometimes get things not quite right and may need to change our approach. Critical reflection doesn’t mean abandonment of issues or tactics.
I think Gareth Brown is the candidate who offers what we most need in our union now. Please vote for him. Whoever wins though, we need to come together, direct our anger at our employers and the government (and not just each other), and get serious about organising to win.
Dr Sophia Lycouris
Reader, Edinburgh College of Art; University of Edinburgh UCU Equality Officer; @sophia_lyc
I know Gareth from wider activist contexts. I appreciate both his personality and skills, and count on his ability to care. I admire his intelligence which informs his approach to analysing situations and working out solutions that are realistic and efficient. His ideas about alternative strategies of resistance are an example of this. His suggestions about how to deal with precarity and casualisation in HE by changing our approach to funding are another example.
I support and share his perspective about how the crisis in HE education in the UK is part of a wider crisis caused by multiple systems of exploitation, discrimination and inequality that determine how society functions. Being aware of these connections, Gareth is in a good position to have a solid vision, as well as the ability to keep adjusting it in response to abrupt changes, opportunities and challenges. Last but not least, Gareth is a particularly experienced trade unionist, which is why he understands the difference between short-term, medium term and long-term goals, and has prepared a well thought through plan that includes all three stages.
Dr Emma Kennedy
Lecturer in HE Learning and Teaching, University of Greenwich; @EmmaKEdDev
As a member of staff with experience in both academic and professional services roles, I am endorsing Gareth Brown for UCU VP. Gareth’s election statement has been a breath of fresh air in centering some of the most marginalised members of our union, such as migrant and trans colleagues. His vision for UCU is refreshingly focused on the concrete harms done by employers; his focus on casework promises a leadership that provides both a national vision and the support that local branches need to fight on their own turf. I am also inspired by Gareth’s attention to staff-student solidarity, which is crucial–we stand with our students and recognise that they, too, are victims of casualisation. I have voted Gareth as my first preference in the VP election and recommend that you do too.
Dr Eleanor Jones
Lecturer in Portuguese and World Literatures, University of Southampton; @eleanorkjones1
I have not met Gareth in person, but his campaign strikes me as a breath of fresh air: solidly left-wing and engaged with radical thought and praxis, and creative in its vision for the union and for HE as a whole. I have been particularly impressed by his uncompromising commitment to our most marginalised members, and by his pledge to incorporate tactics learned from global radical and grassroots movements. This kind of creative thinking is crucial if we are to keep UCU moving forwards through the uncertain times ahead. For these reasons, I have voted for Gareth as UCU Vice President, and encourage other members to do the same.
Dr Chris Williams
Open University UCU Faculty Rep; @Chris_A_W
I’m supporting Gareth because I saw him play a key role in a branch that successfully took on and defeated a management plan for wholesale downsizing. This process was similar to the one that my own branch went though – and it’s the kind of process that UCU branches all over the country are going to have to go through.
What we all need is a leadership team which is committed to using evidenced-based methods to harness the power of solidarity in defence of our interests. This is an approach that makes obtaining results a priority, and values it over arriving at theoretically sound (but practically unachievable) positions. It’s an approach that relies on a mobilised membership, on a nimble leadership, and on a command of communication, in order to win. It’s an approach that Gareth can help us to deliver.
University of Leicester student and activist; @liz_yeates77
Gareth is a solid rank-and-file trade unionist with a massive heart and a great beard. I met Gareth in the picket line during the 2018 strikes. Gareth was central to building a relationship between student activists and striking staff as he recognised the urgency in building solidarity in our universities, in our struggles and across the wider movement.
As a queer and neurodivergent student, I consider Gareth a top notch ally and have been impressed by his activism matching his talk, that’s rare! I jumped at the chance to play Gareth in the pantomime, it was a real privilege and a highlight of my acting career, so far.
Dr Helen Eborall
Lecturer in Critical Public Health, University of Edinburgh; @nellyeborall
I met Gareth several years ago through Leicester UCU branch committee when I was Equalities Officer and then Vice-Chair. I got to know him more–and learned a huge amount from him–through shadowing him and working alongside him on casework and in negotiation and consultation meetings. He’s incredibly knowledgeable and has a calm and thoughtful manner–a combination which make him an excellent negotiator. Equality and inclusivity are values that are core drivers of Gareth’s activism. His passion and commitment to both is one of the reasons I’m voting for him.
Learning Development and Business Administration Manager, Departmentt of Museum Studies, University of Leicester; Academic Related and Professional Staff Representative, Leicester UCU; @rotster
Gareth is a committed activist and trade unionist, an effective negotiator, and an incredibly successful caseworker. With an understanding of issues faced by academic and ARPS colleagues alike, Gareth is always a motivating presence on picket lines and at branch events. His kind-hearted, compassionate, creative, yet no-nonsense and determined, approach to trade unionism make him an ideal candidate for UCU Vice President. I have absolutely no hesitation in endorsing his campaign.
Dr Maddalena Tacchetti
Research Associate, University of Nottingham; @maddaiena
I met Gareth 7 years ago at the University of Leicester, whilst I was a PhD student working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. During my time at Leicester, I witnessed Gareth’s great commitment and hard work for the Union. At any UCU and activist meeting, at any picket line and strike, Gareth’s endless support and trade union expertise translated into practical acts of solidarity for any UCU member, in particular for its most vulnerable and precarious members.
In my case, he not only provided direct advice and support on my precarious working conditions and vulnerable position, he also helped me grow as an activist within our union. At the core of Gareth’s activism lies a basic principle: through grassroots organising, students and workers can collectively turn things around and radically and creatively transform our institutions and union. This is imperative now more than ever, given the exceptionally challenging times we are facing in our sector and globally.
As a precariously employed researcher at the University of Nottingham, endorsing Gareth and seeing the incredible support his candidacy has received from so many members gives me hope for the future. I strongly believe UCU needs Gareth as VP, especially right now! His gentle and humble manners coupled with a firm and strategic approach to trade unionism are the qualities we need for our UCU VP.
Dr Rohit K. Dasgupta
Senior Lecturer in Global Communication and Development, Loughborough University; Labour and Cooperative Party Councillor, London Borough of Newham; @rkdasgupta
These are difficult times for our HE sector and we need someone who will challenge the marketisation of HE, stand up for precarious workers, and motivate activists on the picket line.
Gareth Brown has a progressive vision for the union and I support him as the next UCU Vice President.
Professor Steve Brown
Professor of Health and Organisational Psychology, Nottingham Trent University; @ProfSteveBrown
I met Gareth when he began as a PhD student at University of Leicester School of Management. His background in activism and organising made both him and his work distinctive. Gareth speaks and acts from a place of deep commitment. He is utterly fearless and thoroughly compassionate. He has been on the frontline of seemingly endless struggles these past few years at local branch level, where he brings a fierce intelligence and relentless good humour. Gareth is someone I would want in my corner every time, and my respect and admiration for him have grown in pace with his mighty beard. There are difficult times ahead; I’m voting for Gareth to be part of the leadership team to steer us through this.
Dr Laura Chuhan Campbell
Assistant Professor of Translation Studies and French, Durham University; UCU rep and activist; @cambiechoo
As an anti-casualisation campaigner, I will be voting for Gareth Brown. Gareth not only understands the precarity of early career academia–he has fought against it and won. I trust him to tackle casualisation head-on and stand up for the most vulnerable colleagues in higher and further education.
Dr Dave Ashby
Research Associate, University of Leicester; @desportingdave
Gareth Brown always stands up for what is right, even when that means coming up against the most powerful people and forces in Higher Education. Gareth understands the challenges HE faces, and is not afraid to get creative in our response to deteriorating pay and work conditions–particularly the never-ending periods of precarity many of us in the sector endure, alongside the new challenges posed by COVID-19.
Always a visible and active figure and key organising force in previous industrial action, Gareth Brown is passionate about HE, and someone I trust to fight in the interests of all UCU members and students in these uncertain times. Gareth was a big part of why I joined the Leicester UCU branch in the first place and, recently, he successfully fought for my contract to be reinstated after Unitemps unilaterally cancelled their contracts at the start of the pandemic. Friendly, trustworthy, and principled, I wish Gareth the best of luck in this campaign!