For Art’s Sake

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are mine as the writer and do not reflect the views of the short sighted, close minded fuckwits at the university who decided to close a successful, profitable, oversubscribed course.

I walked into the meeting feeling optimistic that we would finally get a concrete reason as to why the University of Nottingham is closing the BA Creative and Professional Writing degree. Clearly this was naive.

The very first thing that happened was we were told that the school of Education was aware of our Facebook group and didn’t seem to particularly like it. Apparently “our reality” is “different to their reality.” Also apparently the information that we had gathered about the course closure had been misconstrued because the “information was cut and pasted in the way creative writers do.” Quite frankly, I find that insulting, and I found it worrying that they said they were “more guarded because things keep being posted on Facebook.” This made me think immediately WHAT ARE YOU HIDING. I DO NOT TRUST YOU.

Then we were given a wishy washy history of why Creative Writing was in the school of education, something we have all heard before and Mr Noyes seemed to think that this was an acceptable reason as to why they were closing the course. It was met with a dumb silence. He then proceeded to tell us that he regretted the timing of the decision as it was unfortunate. Getting a letter that my course is closing a day before Christmas is unfortunate, yes. He blamed the Christmas break for the reason of bad timing however, the decision was made at the start of December, so they should have told us immediately.

He continued to tell us that they had had a hard decision of whether they wanted to replace Nicola Valentine as course leader, leave things as they were or close the course. Again, he scapegoated Nicola, as she had been scapegoated in the letter to UCAS applicants.

“The school has made this difficult decision after the departure of the course leader this academic year and finds that we are unable to support the ongoing development of the course as it is a specialist area that cannot easily be supported from within the existing structures and staffing of the school.”

The school had so much time to replace her and she left the course thriving and strong so implying it is her fault to potential students (and potential members of our writing community who may one day work with other members of the community) and that is disrespectful, unfair and wholly a wrong thing to do to someone who has invested so much time into the course and students.

He proceeded to then tell us “nothing would change,” there will be “no immediate effect,” and we should get “additional activities in an enrichment program.”

We then opened up a Q&A.

Notice that we were not given any concrete reason what so ever. We were called to this meeting to hear the reasons for the closure and we were not told it.

Many similar questions were asked about the future validity of our degree, the support and the ongoing future until it ends. We were told that they were “committed” to us, but they “don’t know what to say to convince us.” Funny, you don’t know what to say to the question WHY IS THE COURSE CLOSING?

First years questioned whether their module choice would decrease and were told that they were “streamlining and consolidating modules,” however we know they will decrease because currently you can do modules in different years but when the first years are in second year they wont be able to go and do a first year module because there will no longer be a first year, and so on. So again, he skirted around the question. They were told to just “wait till you see the timetables,” but that doesn’t help if you want to know what is available because you are considering leaving the course because of ALL THIS FAFF. We were then reassured “everyone will leave with their award, no one will be left high and dry.” Thanks for that.

A first year then pointed out that Mr Noyes still hadn’t given us a definitive reason for the closure and to just tell us. He responded with “I’ve already told you this,” to a mumble of “no you have not,” and after lots of to and fro told us that we could know “some of the reasons.” SOME.

Why are we not entitled to ALL of the reasons, sir?

Finally after more probing he said the one vague phrase “the course does not have a strong fit to the school.” That, my friends is all I think we are going to get from him. That and his request to “take us on our word.”

I do not think so.

You are closing a successful, profitable, oversubscribed course and not telling us a reason and scapegoating and victimizing an amazing woman. The whole thing is shady, seedy and feels very political. We have rights and you have let us down. You are letting Nottingham down. Nottingham has put a bid in to be a UNESCO city of literature and you are closing down one of the amazing things about the city, one of the things it had to boast about. Bad timing indeed.

And as for sharing things on Facebook, this is Nottingham. You have heard of Nottingham’s rebel writers, so WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? Freedom of speech. Public information. Expect backlash, you made the wrong choice.

 

 

8 thoughts on “For Art’s Sake

  1. Creative writers don’t “copy and paste”, which shows how little he knows about writing. Students like to probe and question, which shows how little he knows about students. People have a right to know the truth, which shows how little he knows about people and life in general.
    Freedom of speech is an American concept that we don’t have in this country – we supposedly have freedom of expression but that seems to be being clamped down on.

    1. I think insulting a writer with that comment right at the start of the meeting was a really silly thing for him to do. It put everyone on edge.
      At least I’m playing my part in trying to get to the truth! 🙂

  2. Yes, the copy and paste comment is especially insulting and really missing the point. The reason Professor Noyes and his colleagues have not come out well from all of this has nothing to do with anyone misconstruing a single word. What’s happened is that all of the inconsistencies of the messages and letters the School sent out have been leapt upon and pulled apart. The political language and weasel words of the emails and statements have been interpreted, analysed and called out for what they are. This is what the course teaches its students to do! It’s what happens when you take some of the brightest people in the country and teach them these important skills and then try to use words to baffle them. The world would be a better place if every single person was given the power of those skills to destruct this kind of nonsense and obfuscation. Which is one of the many reasons why it’s such a damn shame the course is being closed. Thanks for writing this Kim. You have a powerful, brilliant voice and I know you’re going to go far in life.

    1. Thank you so much Niki. I was trying to sound reasonable while still getting across how angry I was. I also hope you don’t mind me mentioning you, it’s just a lot of us students left really got angry at him treating you badly and implying it was down to you when it clearly wasn’t.
      Glad this post was a success then! 😀

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