Sunday, June 03, 2007

Chancellor

It's now official that when we become the University of Cumbria, the Chancellor will be the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. Excellent news.

4 comments:

Emma said...

Groovy!

Matt said...

It's sad that someone who was a strong opponent of the recent sexual orientation equality act should be made chancellor of a university with a strong LGBT community and with the importance of someone's uni years to the devolpment of the sexual orientation identity. I'm sure they could have found someone better. Also what does Sentamu have to do with Cumbria? The guy's based in York.

Mike Peatman said...

Matt, I have no knowledge of the discussions, but I would suggest:

1) We are in the Northern Province and he is our Archbishop.

2) The church still has a role in the governing of the University, so he was an obvious figurehead to choose.

3) He has an impressive track record and profile through his involvement in situations, such as the Stephen Lawrence investigation and the Damilola Taylor case (as well as standing up to Idi Amin)

I haven't vetted all the other University Chancellors on their LGBT views, so I don't know how he would compare. I haven't see his latest statements.

Obviously some people have fears re sexual orientation issues relating to the Church involvement in the new Uni, but I guess you have to look at the truth on the ground. SMC has very strong policies on all forms of discrimination (including sexual orientation) in the life of the College (and had them earlier than some secular institutions).

By the way, one openly gay member of staff expressed concern that the Church identity might be lost!

imagine a new world said...

I've no real fears about the new uni and it's upholding of gay equality policies etc - i'm sure that will continue. Neither am I calling for the uni to lose the church's involvement - it's something I think should happen (as part of a wider secularisation of education), but not something that I'm really worried about at the moment.

My concern is simply what kind of message is being sent out when a university appoints as its figurehead a man who has spoken out very strongly against important gay rights legislation. As a bisexual guy I do feel less valued by the college and I wonder how others who are new to the place and insecure in their sexuality might feel. A university needs people who use their public profile to speak out for equality for all students not simply speak age old prejudices which have no place in a uni that's looking to the future.

A final interesting point is Peter Tatchell's article on the Damilola Taylor case in which he accuses Sentamu's inquiry as then bishop of Birmingham of having ignored the possible homophobic element of the attack. Article here:

http://www.petertatchell.net/hate%20crimes/damilola.htm