This week marks a month since University of Manchester students passed a Vote of No Confidence in Nancy Rothwell and her senior management team by an overwhelming 89%. The vote was the first of its kind at the University of Manchester, and one of the only such votes in the UK.
Despite this, it is the Board of Governors who ultimately decide whether Nancy and company stay or go – and they have made it clear that they support Nancy Rothwell and her team, after releasing a statement just after the results were announced on the 12th of March. This statement was actually written before the Board knew the results, according to Student Union Executive officers, who have been meeting with the Nancy Out campaign to discuss the next steps for the campaign.
Nancy Rothwell has been a controversial figure for a number of years, and various strikes and protests have been aimed at her leadership since she first came to the position in 2010; on the 16th of December 2020, the University of Manchester UCU branch passed their own Vote of No Confidence in Nancy Rothwell’s leadership by 93%.
The student-led Nancy Out campaign for her and the senior management team’s removal was launched in March, though campaigners had been planning to push for the Vote of No Confidence since November after a number of controversies and protests, such as the erection of fencing around the Fallowfield accommodation campus; the alleged assault of a Black student on campus by security; police presence on campus and the events of the occupation of Owen’s Park Tower.
Though the Nancy Out campaign has picked up some flak from students for seemingly targeting only Nancy Rothwell, the Vote of No Confidence passed also includes the rest of the University’s senior management team; April McMahon, Luke Georghiou, Simon Merrywest and Patrick Hackett. This team deals with all aspects of University life, from the halls of accommodation to financing, education and student welfare.
The campaign is led by a mixture of first, second and final year students, as well as post-grads. It plans to continue to fight for the University and the Student Union to respect the results of the referendum, through meetings with Student Union officers and more protests and direct actions.
The Mancunion spoke to Joel Wall of the Nancy Out! Campaign, here’s what they had to say:
While the SU have now met with us about the result of the referendum, it has now been a month since the vote, and very little has been done by the SU. Thus, we are continuing our own protest action, and will continue to escalate them until our demands are implemented, and the Board of Governors recognise the referendum.
Meanwhile, the Student Union has promised to continue talks with the campaign, and other campus campaign groups:
In March we facilitated a referendum of no confidence in the VC and senior team. The result was testament to wider anger as to how students have been treated by national and local decision makers. We have put the result of the referendum to the University as per our rules, and will be making a formal presentation to the Board of Governors in May. We have been continuing to advocate for students throughout on a range of matters, including getting more money into hardship funds, more investment into counselling and assessment policies. We will continue to work with campaigning groups on this and lots of other matters over the next term. We will be issuing further comments over the course of the next few weeks.
The University of Manchester was contacted for response, though will not be making any comments on the referendum further than the initial Board of Governors statement.