17 March 2010

A token of good faith

Someone who had contacted us to say they were coming to one of our Tuesday afternoon coffee meetings* emailed us the day before the meeting to ask if she could bring "my friend [X]", without giving any information about X. As X happens to be the name of a well-known American academic blogger, we replied as follows.

Dear __
Yes, please bring the taxi receipt and we will reimburse you.
Yes, it is fine to bring your friend. However, I should mention that where salaried academics are concerned, we are only willing to meet them if they first make a donation of £1,000 (or more). The coffee meetings are intended primarily for people of student age. While we are happy in principle to meet other academics, you will understand that it is potentially invidious and galling for us to meet those who have managed to survive the negative aspects of contemporary academia, whether through luck or through lowering their standards, and who are not giving us any support either by donations or by coming to work here in vacations.
We are in the position of intellectuals unjustly exiled from academia and having to support themselves by their own efforts. It seems reasonable to us to expect fellow intellectuals inside the system who are financially comfortable to make a token contribution to our efforts, if they want to interact with us.

The person in question responded by saying she refused to come without her friend, and so would not come at all.

The policy described is one we have applied for many years, and which we shall continue to apply until such time as we are in a comparable position to salaried academics, of being paid for being intellectually productive rather than having to spend almost all our time maintaining ourselves, and our embryonic organisation, at a minimum subsistence level.

* These are currently being held weekly on Tuesdays at 4.30 pm. For more details, email cgoxfordforum@yahoo.co.uk