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A petition has been lodged on the Student Union Petitions page for a vote of no confidence in the Vice-Chancellor, Andy Schofield and senior management staff at Lancaster University. This petition follows the collapse of the rent strike and a series of open letters disputing the universities handling of the pandemic. The question being voted on it ‘Do you have confidence in Lancaster University’s Vice-Chancellor and his Executive Team?’. The petition will need 150 signatures to be debated by the Executive Committee and for a petition like this to be successful, there will need to be mass student engagement. If the petition reaches 300 votes there will then be a referendum called on the issue.
Alongside the petition, there is a list of complaints regarding the failings of the VC and executive team. These complaints range from criticising the handling of the pandemic by prioritising the financial interests of the university over the students and staff to charging students £17.95 for emergency food supplies when self-isolating. There are also several accusations directed at the pay of senior management staff with salaries in excess of £100,000 which has risen from 25 to 65 from 2013/14 to 2019/20. The list makes reference to the recent £52,000 improvements to the house the VC rents, paid for with student rent payments and tuition fees. All of which is happening while students are having to pay for accommodation they are not allowed in. Rent repayments are being paid at a flat rate which disregards the fact that many students will not have had a choice in the type of accommodation they were allocated.
Other universities around the country have completely refunded the payments for this term. Other university management teams have called on the government to scrap interest on student loans but our VC remains silent. The range of complaints is comprehensive and even includes the investments the university makes in arms manufacturers and fossil fuel companies. It is a damning list which the VC and senior management will have to respond to.
The only way for this petition to have an impact is for students to vote for it. If students aren’t happy with their universities actions during this pandemic then a referendum needs to be held and the issues need to be discussed. This is an opportunity for students to have their voices heard. As of writing this piece the petition is at 25 votes, only 275 to go before a referendum.