Campus calls up a storm
by Kirsty Taylor
Campaigners are gearing up their protest over Glasgow University’s withdrawal from Crichton Campus by bombarding the institution’s communications systems with complaints.
Save Crichton Campus campaign and the International Workers of the World Union (IWW) are calling for the second phone lobby of the Glasgow campus in two weeks. They claim the university had to devise a telephone protocol and lay on extra staff to deal with calls, emails and faxes last week. They are asking people to call again on Thursday and Friday against the pullout.
“We think the university is accelerating its pullout because of the protests, so we are piling more pressure on Sir Muir Russell,” said IWW organiser for central Scotland Nick James. “The university lost 10% of its staff last year and is revising working conditions for janitors, but the principle took a pay rise.”
The university court ruled against accepting new students to Crichton on February 14 but protest and talks in parliament are gaining pace. The rural campus has 250 students and 40 staff from Glasgow University who claim it is costing over £800,000 a year.
Student and staff campaigners are resorting to “creative protest” according to Crichton student Joe Smedley.
“We were protesting at the Crichton campus but felt we weren’t being noticed, so people interrupted video conferences linked with Glasgow university to let students up there know what is going on,” the tourism and heritage student said.
Glasgow’s exit poses a blow to the local economy with acclaimed humanities courses lost in the move.
“Everybody in the area is concerned about it,” said Dumfries MSP Elaine Murray. “Crichton campus gives people who maybe cannot leave Dumfries a chance to study. There has been problems with attracting qualified people to the area, with this campus people have been able to gain skills themselves.”
Deputy First Minister Nicol Stephen last week pledged to encourage talks between Glasgow University and the Scottish Funding Council, who the institution blame for not granting enough money to the site. The University and College Union called for Jack McConnell to intervene and have not ruled out strike action.