Students disrupt Warden’s speech at feminist event to protest pay gaps and cuts

A group of students disrupted a speech by Goldsmiths Warden Frances Corner at a feminist event to protest pay disparities and cuts at Goldsmiths.

The students held up banners in front of Corner to give a speech about the gender pay-gap at Goldsmiths College, before leaving the room peacefully.

Video via Lauren Corelli

“Goldsmiths has a 12% BME pay gap, a gender pay gap and those who have complex and intersecting identities will face the repercussions of these cuts, all under our new feminist warden,” said a spokesperson from the student group.

“These inequalities have not been addressed in the ‘Evolving Goldsmiths’ plan, and we do not see communication with the staff or students regarding the proposed budget cuts either. We demand an open democratic forum.”

The Students’ Union have said in an email to all students that “‘Evolving Goldsmiths’ will see Goldsmiths’ senior management impose 15% cuts to front line staff and services.”

The event was organised by Goldsmiths’ Department of Law to celebrate Baroness Helena Kennedy, a human rights lawyer. It was aimed at commemorating her work as a feminist.

A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said, “Goldsmiths has a gender pay gap of 3.7% and while this is smaller than at many other universities, and below half the national average of 8.9%, we are not complacent and are fully committed to seeing it reduced still further, with the ambition of eliminating it completely.”​​

Corner was announced as the new Warden of Goldsmiths earlier this year, becoming the first woman to hold the top position at the College.

However, a spokesperson for the student group said that merely having women in leadership would not “translate into the necessary revolutionary politics we want to see and need at this institution.”

Goldsmiths recently introduced ‘Evolving Goldsmiths’, a plan which it says is necessary to secure its financial position. However, the plan will see further cuts to pay, pensions and departmental funding across the College.

UNISON and UCU, two trade unions representing staff at Goldsmiths, have released a statement opposing these cuts as having “a detrimental impact on the student experience” while not solving casualisation or what the unions describe as “already intolerable levels of work for many staff”.

The Goldsmiths spokesperson said: “Evolving Goldsmiths sets out a comprehensive action plan for how Goldsmiths can evolve to overcome the challenges facing both the institution and higher education as a whole. We have shared details of these plans with our students, colleagues and the wider College community who remain our number one priority.

They continued, “We recognise change can be difficult but no change is not an option if we are serious about the College’s future and our commitment to delivering the best possible learning experience for students alongside outstanding research.”

The Students’ Union will be holding their own protest against these changes this Friday.

Featured image licenced by Alex Blandford under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.