Date: Thu, 20 May 2004 15:59:11 +0100 (BST)
From: SA Blackwell
Subject: RE: Web pages

Dear John,

Thanks for your reply.

» Sue - we gave you an extension whilst the School reviewed your web site.

Yes, I was aware of this. Alex Hughes (HoS) told me that a School IT committee (don't know its exact name) would be meeting during April.

» Subsequent to the meeting we were informed that you had been
» asked to remove certain material and we allowed a period of
» grace for this to be completed.

Then you were informed wrongly. I have had NO notification that the School committee has in fact met (though I assumed that it must have done by now), and nobody has contacted me by any means (internal mail, e-mail, phone or whatever) to tell me what it decided, let alone to ask me to remove anything whatsover. Of course it is possible that something has got lost in the internal mail. Please tell me WHO is supposed to have contacted me and WHEN, and HOW they claim to have done it. And what was this "period of grace" which I was never told about??

» As you know the official deadline passed on 1 April.

This is irrelevant given that the school committee was not meeting until after that date.

» When we received further complaints about material on your site
» last week we had no choice but to block access, in line with
» University policy.

What were the "further complaints"? In the past I have been sent copies of complaints made about my websites but I was not told anything about any new ones last week. And does it matter to the University whether there is any substance whatsoever in the complaints it receives, or does it act even on complaints which are patently ludicrous? Just asking.

» If you wish to remove all material except the undergraduate
» teaching material we could restore access to this and give you
» until the summer to migrate this material.

Are you saying that only undergraduate teaching material is related to my academic work, and not, for instance, my research pages??

» As you know it was never our intention to
» disadvantage students by this measure.

It may not have been your intention but it has certainly been the result. I had a blind student in my office yesterday who told me how much she relied on my web pages for her work, and she was dismayed to learn that she could no longer access them from outside the university (she has specialist text-to-speech software installed on her computer at home).

» I strongly also recommend that you talk to David Supple's team about
» rationalising the linguistics material into a single, corporate
» location so we can properly maintain this material into the future.

I do not know what you mean by "the linguistics material". Some of my colleagues have their own pages concerned with linguistics, and that is up to them. I do not necessarily know what they have, and I do not have the time to get involved with additional web pages. Moreover, the point of having personal web pages is that the users maintain them themselves, and that is what I and no doubt many of my colleagues wish to continue to do.

I repeat, I am still waiting to receive notification of the outcome of my application to retain my web pages. If I do not shortly receive a satisfactory explanation of what is going on, I will be making a formal complaint.

Sue Blackwell
Department of English,
The University of Birmingham,

Phone: +44 - 0121-414-3219
Fax: +44 - 0121-414-5668


Sue's Home Page:

Last updated: 17th September 2004