Madam - The two Deans would like to place on record their concern at the allegations made in the article ‘A harrowing, poorly planned process’ (The Beaver, 27 October 2009), written by an anonymous group of students, which asserts that LSE shows ‘a blatant disregard for student welfare’.
In particular, we are very unhappy at allegations which might cause offence to the administrative and support staff of the School, who we know of our own experience work very hard to ensure the well-being of students. They are not in a position to refute such a defamatory slur.
Indeed, we rather doubt that the great majority of LSE students would recognise any such description of the School, particularly with respect to the staff in the Student Services Centre, the Teaching and Learning Centre, or the Students’ Union, or indeed the vast majority of Programme Directors, Departmental Tutors, Supervisors and Academic Advisers. Inevitably, many of our colleagues are understandably upset at this sweeping generalisation being printed in The Beaver.
If there are complaints, and that happens from time to time in even the best of institutions, then they should be dealt with. If necessary, that can be done confidentially and without any fear of victimisation. The Deans are always ready to assist that process, if efforts through other channels have not been able to resolve a problem.
We would therefore like to reassure the entire student community that all staff at the LSE will continue to support students during their studies in the School, and that in spite of anonymous and randomised attacks of the sort displayed in your article.
Dr. Julian Fulbrook,
Dean of Graduate Studies
Dr. JE Stockdale
Dean of Undergraduate Studies
Madam – In response to Teresa Goncalves’ Features article, “Aiding Development” (27 October 2009), get real. We should be profoundly critical of why the Chinese are doing all the interfering these days. Why isn’t the West doing more to promote our collective influence through economic development packages in exchange for mineral rights or access to oil? Why are we letting China have the entire continent?
China is right now canvassing the whole of Africa, locking up deals on minerals, oil and other resources which the planet only has a finite – and dwindling – amount of. You can be damn sure they are going to continue dealing with the most unsavoury of governments if it serves their interests. If the West, and especially America, don’t get our act together then those minerals are going to continue to fuel China’s rampaging economic growth at our expense, not to mention give her an exclusive sphere of influence comprising African client states which will guarantee her a significant measure of economic self-sufficiency. The time will come when we can’t drive around in our cars because China has exclusive (and cheap) access to the world’s oil, let alone manufacture anything of worth owing to sky-high commodities prices which, guess what, China will have much cheaper and/or exclusive access to. Petroleum is only one example of an alarming trend.
If human history has contributed anything to our understanding of geopolitics, it’s that countries which amass significant economic power tend to want to translate that power into geopolitical influence. As the West sleeps, or goes on worrying about the fate of all those poor African masses whose democratic rights are being trampled on by the governments that the Chinese (and earlier, US/USSR) are propping up, the Chinese are busy amassing what could be termed an empire in Africa. And this time, they haven’t needed guns to do it – economic interdependence has been enough. What will they do with all the resources generated by their new economic might? My guess is translate that into geopolitical influence, while at the same time that of the West as a whole and the United States in particular is eroding. Western indifference on this issue is indicative of the wider tendency to simply ignore the rise of China and the implications it will have on the balance of power; that scares the hell out of me.
I enjoin you, Ms Goncalves, and the rest of the academic community, to step out of the narrow prism of human rights-this or development-that, and instead broaden your outlook. This outlook should consider the fact that in twenty years China will be massively more powerful than it is now; how will that influence the rest of the planet? At that point, worries about human rights and development policy will be for all practical intents and purposes mere philosophical abstractions, just as they were during the Cold War. Stop patronising the Africans (who to my knowledge have never been governed by a Western-style liberal democracy in all the years since the original landmass separated from Pangea) and instead focus on why the Western countries aren’t doing more to promote our interests in the region and prevent China building herself a nice little empire. Escape the comfy confines of your ivory tower and consider the naked realities of the situation. I have, and they profoundly unnerve me.
I sincerely wish my government was being more active in handling this issue, not to mention that I wish the American people as a whole were less focused on playing Guitar Hero and a little more engaged with the critical geopolitical issues of the day, so it’s not just you that I’m admonishing. Unfortunately, as a twenty-year old General Course student, I just don’t have a great deal of say in deciding this and other matters. Give me another twenty or thirty years and I doubt that will remain the case.
General Course ‘10