On the Vice Chancellor

Joseph Caddick lets loose on Vice Chancellor Chris Day

Joseph Caddick
17th March 2020
Image: Newcastle University on YouTube
It’s no secret that this year has been a turbulent time for students, and that’s putting it lightly.

Between the strikes, scandals and spreading viruses, it seems like we’ve been moving from one bit of negative news to the next. To me, a Vice Chancellor should stand strong and try to keep the peace, not spout shallow soundbites. Soundbites don’t keep the peace. They incite anger. People become annoyed that they don’t have real answers. Articles in the past few weeks have shown this, and given the extent of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s beginning to feel like there’s a disconnect between Chris Day and the student body.

Don’t get me wrong, it's not an easy job to be tackling so many issues at the same time. What truly grinds my gears is the lack of communication. We’ve gotten the odd email here or there, thankfully more frequently regarding the coronavirus situation, but it’s nigh on impossible to get in touch with him during these troubling times. I was told I’d get an email back from a member of staff who’s part of his office; I'm still awaiting a reply. Granted, I’d used some strong language that might have scared them off. Still, we should be able to voice our concerns to him, or at the very least to one of his representatives.

Between 22 strike days this semester and online-only teaching the next, our £9250 has been squandered

Given that next term is going to be taught online, students have been undeniably short-changed. Not to mention that it deprives us of a solid chunk of our student experience. Add this to the 22 days of strikes and it’s honestly infuriating. £9250 a year has been squandered, and the Vice Chancellor has done nothing to alleviate people’s concerns. As long as he’s making his six-figure salary, eh?

Students are being treated like complaining children: acknowledged, and then ignored

Chris Day's lack of action on a number of issues have inspired ire
Image: Chris Day on Twitter

Having read the description of the role of Vice Chancellor that was provided by Newcastle University, candidates are expected to “inspire and motivate the entire University community”, and this is to be done by “personally engaging with students, staff and stakeholders”. I’m of the opinion that in order to do this, students need to be listened to. Right now we’re treated like complaining children, briefly acknowledged and then ignored whilst the adults carry on as they were. There’s only so many times that can happen before unrest develops, and frankly, I think we’re at that point now.

Something needs to be done. Many students I’ve spoken to are unhappy and want partial refunds. Chris Day has failed “personally engage” with me, he didn’t even get another member of staff to personally engage with me. What he did was hide behind the veil of “being busy”, when part of what makes him busy is meant to be preventing panics among students. And such a person is meant to “inspire and motivate” us? It’s delusional.

Students need a bigger say in who becomes Vice Chancellor

Over the past few days I’ve become of the opinion that students need a bigger say in who becomes Vice Chancellor, or a stringent evaluation procedure. There could be votes whenever a Vice Chancellor decides to step down, with the student community also getting to consider any applicants. The student body could scrutinise them closely, holding them to account when they act against our interests. Unfortunately, right now people are scared, confused and demoralised, and I think a better response to these issues would have done well to prevent hysteria.

It’s safe to say that if I were to evaluate Chris Day’s performance right now, he’d be getting a big fat zero, which fits nicely with his policies of zero-action, zero-motivation and zero-empathy.

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