Thursday, May 26, 2005

Thank God I Don't Go To Birmingham

So, the AUT finally saw sense and overturned their odious boycott of Israeli universities. I don't care what you think of their ideas, views, or anything, the principle of academia is that anything is up for discussion, and if something is wrong, you prove it through academic argument. Not through deciding not to deal with those you don't like. If Haifa University discredit themselves by censuring a professor for standing by his student's research, that is not the means for a boycott of the University which can only harm those who work there. An argument for not applying for jobs thre, maybe, or scrutinising their research more heavily, but not for a boycott.

What angers me most is the attitude of those who cannot lose gracefully. Says Sue Blackwell, quoted on the BBC today:

"We are not surprised. We saw people who did not come to earlier meetings there and we knew what the outcome would be.

We won the moral argument. They just won the vote."

What is it about certain union activists that makes them think that the people who do the most work in a union are the ones automatically entitled to set the policies? I found this last year, albeit at a student level, when I campaigned for the winning campaign in a referendum on student funding policy, and was met only by huge levels of obstructionism from the OUSU activists. The argument was put to me more than once that the SU officers had a right to enforce policies that the rest of the student body disagreed with, on the grounds that they were the officers.

Sorry, but that's just complete crap. A union exists to represent the interests of its members. That is more or less its sole raison d'etre. If they, in democratic fashion, vote for or against a specific policy, it doesn't matter what the"regular activists" think. If, as they proclaim whenever elections swing round, they are there to serve the interests of the members, then they are happy to do it even when it goes against their own vested agenda. Sue Blackwell - for your evident contempt for democracy, shame on you.