The DCU-led ‘Defend the University’ petition is gathering pace and has over 130 signatures at this point. I had a look at who has been signing the petition. I took a sample of 60 people and included only academics who I could track down within a few seconds (I do have other things to do!). I ignored those who might be termed as ‘activists’ and anyone whose identity I couldn’t be sure of. I started at the most recent signatory and worked back in time until I got fed up.
Of the 60 signatories, 4 were mathematicians, 4 worked in computing, 3 in experimental sciences, a miserable 1 (a PhD student) in engineering, 3 in linguistics and another miserable 1 in ‘business’. The remainder had backgrounds in what could be loosely described as the humanities.
Why is this I wonder? Are experimental scientists and engineers (especially) just apathetic or do they disagree with the petition or is it a case that many are actually quite happy with the direction that the modern university is taking. Many scientists who work in strategic areas, for example, are huge beneficiaries of the whole ‘centre of excellence’ culture. My money is on apathy.