11 Views

Senior management read post-graduate's private email

A postgraduate English student at the University of Sussex has revealed he felt “intimidated, bullied and compromised” by senior management after being called to a meeting to address a group email he sent out exclusively to fellow students in his role as student rep. The meeting was with Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Bob Allison, who had gained access to and read the email.
 
Dphil student Anthony Leaker, who is the English School Representative for postgraduates, as well as a Senator, sent the email exclusively to English Dphil students and American Studies Dphil students on 10 January.

 The email addressed the Stop the Cuts campaign and was intended to consolidate support for an upcoming meeting.

It stated: “The postgraduate community is in fact incredibly important to the University, and we do have a strong voice. But we need numbers and we need to make ourselves heard. It is vital. Because this whole thing is a very slippery slope. And if we don’t take a stand now who knows what kind of depressing spectacle we might be facing in a few years time.”
 It reminded the intended recipients that five faculty members were to be made redundant, and ended with a comment about management salaries.

 “Year on year salary increases for management has sky-rocketed in last 5 years. There are 12 new heads of school at Sussex, all were brought in from outside and all within the last year. Make of that what you will (and to be honest, I’m not even sure it is accurate, but the gist is true!)”

 The email was sent at 4.46pm on a Wednesday, and at 9am the following day, Allison emailed Leaker asking to meet him in person.
The motive for calling Leaker to see him was not specified in the email he sent, but it was later revealed during their meeting that the ostensible subject of their discussion was to correct two inaccuracies regarding the number of new heads of school, and the “sky-rocketing” salary increases in the last five years.

“When I got [to Allison’s office] there placed on the table between us was a group email. Though not informed of this in advance it would seem the ostensible subject of the meeting was to correct two factual errors (that only 9, not 12 head of school were brought in from outside and that the VC’s salary is £80,00 greater than his predecessor’s because the new VC is a medic the former economist) [sic].”

The meeting in Allison’s office lasted 45 minutes, of which, claimed Leaker, only about 10 minutes were spent actually discussing the errors in the email. He claimed the other 35 minutes were spent discussing the cuts, during which time Leaker felt he was “being pressurised and unsubtly coaxed or schmoozed into becoming some kind of management rep”.

Leaker said of Allison’s intervention: “Firstly, how does, and should, a Pro Vice-Chancellor have access to emails addressed by a student rep to his constituents, and secondly, why is he reading them?”

 James Hakner, spokesman for the university, said: “The University takes the protection of personal data and information very seriously. There is absolutely no question of managers or anyone else having routine access to and reading emails sent by any members of staff or students. The email exchanges in this case do not represent any breach of the University’s Information Security Policy.

The email sent by [Leaker] was simply passed on to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Bob Allison – by one of the other postgraduate students who had received it. That student was concerned about the misleading and inaccurate information being reported by the rep in relation to the University’s proposal and wanted senior academic staff to be aware. The student rep was told this very clearly when they spoke to Professor Allison.”
 Leaker responded: “I completely deny that I was told how he got hold of the email. It is a downright lie. I asked him both in person and in an email and he would only reply ‘I will not reveal my sources’ and ‘I have good network connections’. He also implied that he had read other emails, saying, ‘Your other emails have been fine.’”

“I find the story of the ‘concerned postgraduate student’ highly unlikely. Firstly, the information was not terribly misleading and certainly not something that could not have been directly addressed to me, or perhaps, to a supervisor or the Head of English. And even if the ‘concerned postgraduate’ did forward it to Allison, a straightforward, formal correction by email would have been much more appropriate. If, as the spokesman states, ‘there is no question of management reading emails sent by students,’ then why did Allison read it?”

Leaker also claimed Allison alluded to the fact that other people in authority could be reading his emails and he wanted to “warn” and “protect” him, suggesting the potential damage this could cause for his future career.
 Leaker said of the incident: “I would feel very uncomfortable to see [Allison] again. Is it appropriate behaviour for someone in a very senior position to inform someone in a very junior position that his emails are being read, and in such an intimidating manner?”
“Whether it was an attempt to bully, court, lobby, silence or censor me I can’t be sure, but I do think such behaviour is worrying and highly inappropriate, not to mention distasteful.”

 When Leaker emailed faculty and other students informing them of the meeting, he claimed that “overwhelmingly, most people thought it was ‘appalling’ behaviour and a very worrying sign of what is happening at this university.”

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Cinderella review
Arts, Film & Theatre
11 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
11 views

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia’s Cinderella review

Georgia Grace - February 23, 2018

The Russian State Ballet of Siberia came to the Theatre Royal Brighton this week with a trio of classic ballet performances to impress a range of audiences.…

Billionaire builds colossal 10,000 year clock
Science, Science & Technology
27 views
Science, Science & Technology
27 views

Billionaire builds colossal 10,000 year clock

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has gone ahead with a plan to build a giant clock to promote long term thinking. The clock's design should allow it to…

Neuroscience: it must be love on the brain
Science, Science & Technology
27 views
Science, Science & Technology
27 views

Neuroscience: it must be love on the brain

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

If you're madly in love, I'd like to ask you to take a moment to consider what exactly is happening inside your brain. Love is a many-chemical…

Rockets and technopoltics: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy
Science, Science & Technology
44 views
Science, Science & Technology
44 views

Rockets and technopoltics: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy

Luke Richards - February 23, 2018

The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy could become a defining feature in humanity's exploration of space, but this impressive technical feat opens up a new frontier of…

Should the monarchy be abolished?
News
19 views
News
19 views

Should the monarchy be abolished?

Will Cronk - February 23, 2018

YES William Cronk Since the time of Alfred the Great, this country has had a monarch of some form or another. The monarchy has provided stability and…

News, Podcast
22 views

News Round Up: UCU strike updates, tuition fees and more

William Singh - February 23, 2018

In this news round up of the week, Will and Deniz catch you up on everything going on around campus. Thanks for listening and tune in next…

Academic Armchair- iObjectify: self- and other-objectification on Grindr
Features, Top Stories
19 views
Features, Top Stories
19 views

Academic Armchair- iObjectify: self- and other-objectification on Grindr

Devin Thomas - February 23, 2018

The Badger Features Team interviewed Sussex’s Yasin Koc about his work on the psychological factors behind Grindr. He posits that use of the app is associated with…

The Badger Reviews: Derry Girls
Arts, Film & Theatre
23 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
23 views

The Badger Reviews: Derry Girls

Sophie Coppenhall - February 22, 2018

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MwnpSEzprQ[/embedyt] This week, Sophie our film editor, reviews season one of Derry Girls. Have you seen it? What did you think? Leave us a comment on…

Arts, Film & Theatre
36 views

Krater’s Valentine’s Day Special review

Daniel Green - February 21, 2018

Love was in the air at a Valentine’s special of Krater Comedy Club last Wednesday and, despite the pouring rain outside, Komedia was packed full of people…

‘Paws for Pensions’ among strike event schedule
Campus News, News
38 views
Campus News, News
38 views

‘Paws for Pensions’ among strike event schedule

William Singh - February 21, 2018

University of Sussex staff are hosting a full slate of events on strike days, including talks, teach-ins, and even a day to bring along your puppers. Members…

Exploring Mumbai Street Food
Lifestyle
36 views
Lifestyle
36 views

Exploring Mumbai Street Food

Louisa Streeting - February 21, 2018

Mumbai is a place that assaults the senses; an array of smells you’ve never smelt before, vibrant colours, and constant noises from the surge of tourists and…

Comment, Opinion
38 views

Comment Cast: Misogyny In Hollywood

Will Cronk - February 21, 2018

In the is episode, Will and Sophie discuss misogyny in film and tv. For more, pick up a badger around campus or read it online. Tune in…

Students need to support the UCU strike
Comment, Opinion
48 views
Comment, Opinion
48 views

Students need to support the UCU strike

Johnbosco Nwogbo - February 20, 2018

The question of whether or not the current UCU strike is justified is an easily settled one, if one took a broad view. According to the Joseph…

Women’s suffrage 100 years on: what’s changed?
Features, Top Stories
41 views
Features, Top Stories
41 views

Women’s suffrage 100 years on: what’s changed?

Roisin McCormack - February 20, 2018

As it reaches a century since the defining moments of women’s suffrage, Roisin McCormack looks into how much things have really changed. Is a celebration of the…

Retrospective: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch Drunk Love’ (2002)
Arts, Film & Theatre
29 views
Arts, Film & Theatre
29 views

Retrospective: Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Punch Drunk Love’ (2002)

Gabriel Ross - February 20, 2018

During a 2002 interview with Charlie Rose, when asked whether he is going to take some time off, Adam Sandler promptly replies, “I don’t really wanna have…

News
52 views

Live: Students’ Union decides on UCU strike backing

William Singh - February 19, 2018

U.S.S.U-Turn: 54 students decide stance for 17,000
Campus News, News
68 views
Campus News, News
68 views

U.S.S.U-Turn: 54 students decide stance for 17,000

Jordan Wright - February 19, 2018

On Monday 19th February, the Students’ Union Council will vote on whether or not to support the national Univerity  and College Union (UCU) strike action that is…

The Wombats: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ review
Arts, Music
36 views
Arts, Music
36 views

The Wombats: ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’ review

Matthew Nicholls - February 19, 2018

Three years after their last release, The Wombats are back with their long awaited fourth album ‘Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life’. Since 'Glitterbug' reached number 5…

Artist Focus: Ella Barkhouse
Artist Focus, Arts
48 views
Artist Focus, Arts
48 views

Artist Focus: Ella Barkhouse

Louisa Hunt - February 19, 2018

Ella Barkhouse is a second-year Brighton student, studying Fine Art: Critical Practice course. Her work ranges across all sorts of media, from some more traditional writing, drawing…

The ultimate LGBTQ+ books guide this February
Books
76 views
Books
76 views

The ultimate LGBTQ+ books guide this February

Shiri Reuben - February 19, 2018

  Throughout the month of February, LGBT History Month aims to promote tolerance and spread awareness of the historical and present-day prejudices faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual…