LSE Academic Board not consulted about Stonewall, only allowed to air views

Published On: March 3rd, 2023

When the LSE School Management Committee made the decision to disaffiliate from the Stonewall charity in November 2022, they did not consult the LSE Academic Board, in spite of citing “academic freedom” considerations in their public announcement about Stonewall.

What is the Academic Board?

The LSE convenes an Academic Board as part of its governance structure. This Board, like the Cambridge Regent House and Oxford Congregation, formally includes any academics in the university who wish to participate in the governance of the School, through a Parliament-like papers, discussions, and voting. Its Terms of Reference say:

To the Academic Board are brought all major issues of general policy affecting the academic life of the School and its development. The Academic Board is responsible for monitoring and upholding the academic standards of the School and for regulating teaching.

Procedural error in non-consultation

Since LSE senior managers cited “academic freedom” in their public announcement of the LSE’s reasons for withdrawing from Stonewall, it appears to have been a procedural error that the Academic Board was not consulted before the decision was made.

We have received reports that as a result, many academics demanded the Stonewall decision be brought back to the Academic Board, since the decision does constitute a “policy affecting the academic life of the School”.

This request was denied.

Special meeting to air views

Instead, during a general questions period at the LSE Academic Board meeting today 8 February 2022, a special Zoom meeting was called by the leader or “Vice Chair” of the Academic Board (VCAB) for academics to “air their views”, on the agreement that there would be no policy consequences in response to any of those views.

This special meeting took place today on 3 March 2023. We have received reports that of the 45 Academic Board members who attended this special meeting, nearly all who spoke voiced dismay in the School’s disaffiliation from Stonewall, although two senior professors gave long speeches in support of this disaffiliation.

Since this was not an official consultation of the Academic Board, all statements were made without the support of any academic papers and were not subjected to academic scrutiny.

The meeting of the Academic Board on 15 March was then cancelled. The reason cited by the Secretary was “lack of business” to discuss.