13 September 2002
The Student Run Computing Facility in Cambridge University has been asked by a college officer of Corpus Christi College to remove a web site, because it contained opinions and accounts unfavorable to the college. The objectionable content was mainly related to the unpopular policies of the senior tutor and their repercussions on student life. As far as we can tell the site is only fair comment on the life in the college (although quite negative) and is not libelous (even according to UK law). We would be grateful if you could mirror the controversial content along with the e-mail exchanges that requested the takedown.
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2001 17:35:39 -0000 From: Paul Schofield <PS@mole.bio.cam.ac.uk> To: email@example.com Subject: Ex student web site Message-ID: <3588192601.1008610539@kanga> Dear Administrator, I note that one of my former students, Conn Sugihara, still has a web site extant on the srcf server facility - ~cps24. As Conn is no longer in Statu Pupillari, having gone to finish his clinical studies in London, I would be grateful if you could remove the site. I am uncertain of his current email address but I beleive that he still uses his commercial address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I note that the site has not been updated since last December. With many thanks, Paul Schofield Dr. Paul Schofield, Senior Lecturer in Anatomy, University of Cambridge. Dept. of Anatomy, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY. UK Tel. +44-1223-333893 Fax. +44-1223-333754 ------------------------------------------------------------ This e-mail transmission is strictly confidential and intended solely for the person or organisation to whom it is addressed. It may contain privileged and confidential information and if you are not the intended recipient, please do not copy, distribute or take any action in reliance on it. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender as soon as possible and delete the message. From email@example.com Tue Dec 18 05:03:36 2001 Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2001 05:03:32 +0000 (GMT) From: Martin Keegan <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com cc: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Ex student web site On Mon, 17 Dec 2001, Paul Schofield wrote: > Dear Administrator, > > I note that one of my former students, Conn Sugihara, still has a web site > extant on the srcf server facility - ~cps24. As Conn is no longer in Statu > Pupillari, having gone to finish his clinical studies in London, I would be > grateful if you could remove the site. I am uncertain of his current email > address but I beleive that he still uses his commercial address: > email@example.com. I note that the site has not been updated since last > December. Can we please not do anything before discussing this? It is unlikely to be a coincidence that Conn's site (which he can no longer update, having graduated (or whatever happened to him)) takes a rather strident line against Dr Kelly, the Senior Tutor at Corpus. The complainant is Dr Paul Schofield, the Admissions Tutor at Corpus. It concerns me that he thought fit to ask for the takedown on the grounds that the student had left, not on the grounds of its content. Perhaps someone should be found to maintain the site? After all, it's a piece of history now. Mk From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Dec 21 15:05:11 2001 Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 15:05:02 +0000 From: Matthew Garrett <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Ex student web site > On Mon, 17 Dec 2001, Paul Schofield wrote: > > > Dear Administrator, > > > > I note that one of my former students, Conn Sugihara, still has a web site > > extant on the srcf server facility - ~cps24. As Conn is no longer in Statu > > Pupillari, having gone to finish his clinical studies in London, I would be > > grateful if you could remove the site. I am uncertain of his current email > > address but I beleive that he still uses his commercial address: > > email@example.com. I note that the site has not been updated since last > > December. Thanks for your email, which was forwarded to me by the SRCF administrators. It is not our policy to remove websites when accounts are cancelled. If you have any more questions, please get in touch. -- Matthew Garrett | SRCF president | firstname.lastname@example.org From email@example.com Sat Dec 22 03:36:41 2001 Date: Sat, 22 Dec 2001 03:36:37 +0000 From: Matthew Garrett <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Re: Ex student web site On Fri, Dec 21, 2001 at 05:09:11PM +0000, Paul Schofield wrote: > Dear Matthew, > > > Many thanks for getting back to me. I was not aware that it was within the > rules of the IT syndicate to allow non-members of the University to maintain > web sites on University servers. There is an additional complication in this > case as this student is no longer in statu pupillari and the material on the > website is defamatory and offensive. This is clearly in breach of IT > syndicate rules yet as the student in question is no longer a member of the > University internal disciplinary measures are not possible. I would be > grateful if you could review this site with immediate effect. I am sure that > the srcf comittee would not want to associate themselves with such material. > > Please let me know your decision as soon as posisble as I may wish to refer > this directly to the IT syndicate before Christmas. Given that we now have a complaint that the content is defamatory and offensive, I don't think we have any choice but to pull it. Could somebody just rename his public_html directory or something for the moment (as soon as possible, preferably)? I'll try to get in touch with the original author. Thanks, -- Matthew Garrett | email@example.com ------------------------------ Background information: (From the local student newspaper "Varsity") Varsity: Performance related rooms http://www.varsity.cam.ac.uk/802567B80049EF7D/Pages/1152000_Performancerelatedrooms.html Varsity: Corpus: Decline & Fall http://www.varsity.cam.ac.uk/8025694E0073CFEB/Pages/corpusdecline.html Varsity: News in Brief http://www.varsity.cam.ac.uk/8025694E0073CFEB/Pages/1152001_NewsinBrief.html Varsity: Corpus In Crisis http://www.varsity.cam.ac.uk/8025694E0073CFEB/Pages/2322001_CorpusInCrisis.html
Following are the contents of Conn Sugihara's Web site.
[Disclaimer - again!] Please note that everything below is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect that of any other individual or group.
Until recently, the good things about Corpus significantly outweighed the bad ones, and I was one of the many who strongly encouraged people to come here. Although I still think Cambridge University is a great place to be, and I love Corpus and the people here, I no longer recommend that potential students apply to Corpus.
To see Kelly's true face you must be in the Frames [delinked] section of the site.
This is because, since January 2000, Corpus has had a new Senior Tutor, Dr Christopher Kelly. The Senior Tutor is meant to be the highest authority on all matters both academic and pastoral within the college for undergraduates. So you can imagine our horror to discover that this man is in fact completely unreasonable, self-centred, and manipulative.
My personal feelings about this man are based on a single term of having to indirectly deal with him as a student representative. However, his actions and behaviour have become legendary not only within Corpus but across the whole University, to the extent that Corpus students are both teased and sympathised with because of him. If you are thinking of applying to Corpus, I would strongly urge you to reconsider simply because of the risk that you may have to deal with this man.
This may all seem a bit extreme to those who have not experienced Corpus for the last six months, so I have tried to explain a little bit of why we hate Kelly this much. Coincidentally, it's also an (admittedly slightly biased) account of some of the politics that occurs within a Cambridge college.
Creating this section of my site isn't the only (small) thing I've done to express my feelings about Chris Kelly. As I said, I endured a term of trying to work with him, but since then I worked up the courage to write to him directly. If you like, you can see the text of the letter I sent to Kelly (copied to my Director of Studies, the Admissions Tutor, and the JCR President). Despite having met and talked with Kelly several times since he received the letter, he has yet to respond to or even acknowledge it.
If there is one man who has stood up to Dr Kelly, it would have to be Dave Sayers, Corpus' students unassuming hero this year. His mass emails to the entire student body as well as Dr Kelly and selected fellows served to bring a bit of perspective and humour to the plight that Kelly put us in. I hope he doesn't mind if I put up some of the emails he wrote on behalf of the Corpus Restoration.
Finally, you might want to see what The Times had to report about the Corpus' new Academic Room Ballot, first in a short article in the Diary section (May 4th 2000), but more recently on page 3 in the News section (June 30th 2000). This evidently pissed off Kelly a lot, because he replied in a Letter to the Editor (in the Miscellany section!) on the 4th July.
This is a shortened (really!) account of why everyone in Corpus detests our Senior Tutor. For easier navigation you can click on any of the links below to jump to the relevant section, or click on the 'Back' buttons to return to the top.
|Before Kelly's rise
Ousting Dr Beattie
The Access Issue - Background
The Access Issue and Corpus
The Access Issue and Kelly
Resolving the Access Issue
Resolving Bar Hours
The Academic Room Ballot - Background
Kelly's Academic Room Ballot
The Academic Room Ballot - Our Response Kelly and the College Staff
The Academic Room Ballot - The Results
Segregating us from the Freshers
Abolishing Aunts and Uncles
Vetoing the Freshers' Guide
Bar Hours Again
Dr Kelly is a lecturer and Director of Studies in Classics. He is Australian, although he was educated in Cambridge (Trinity College, I think). Previous to becoming Director of Studies, he was Dean of College, the man responsible for discipline. Here he built up a reputation for over-the-top punishments dispensed seemingly at a whim, such as large fines for minor offences, often given to students in severe financial difficulty. He especially enjoyed exercising his authority to close the college bar, the main social focus of college, for such reasons as 'the jukebox was too loud' and 'one person got too drunk'. Yet the powers that he had as Dean of College became dissatisfactory - he craved for more...
Until Christmas 1999, our Senior Tutor was Dr Paul Beattie. By no means loved, he was nonetheless respected by the students for at least seeming to care about us. Yet after only three years in office, Dr Beattie was maneuvered out of his job, 'choosing' to leave due to Corpus' dismal performance in the Baxter Tables - an unofficial yet immensely important league table of Cambridge colleges..
It is interesting to note, however, that while for the first two years of Beattie's reign Corpus lay at the bottom of the league table, in his third year we rose spectacularly, reaching 6th in the University. The league table is weighted to make finalists' results the most significant. So the only group of students over which Beattie had responsibility over for the whole of their degrees were themselves responsible for Corpus' amazing success. Yet he left because he was 'failing'.
Thus I suspect the real reason why Dr Beattie was asked to leave was because he failed not academically, but politically. He alienated himself from the rest of the Fellowship by taking his role as the undergraduates' representative and advocate to the Fellows too seriously. In fact, towards the end of his office he became worse than useless to us, because any opinion of ours that he supported was rejected out of hand by the Fellows, without consideration.
So despite Kelly's fearsome reputation for irrationality, Corpus students cautiously welcomed his promotion to Senior Tutor - he was very clearly a highly accomplished politician, and so would never fall into the same trap that Beattie had of alienating himself from the Fellows. In that respect, we were absolutely right.
The most important issue in Cambridge this year was the Access Issue. Essentially, an influential group of University bigwigs published recommendations that rents should increase in Cambridge to match rents at other universities across the country. This report (the "Bursars' Report") was published years ago, but was highlighted for the first time this year when King's College authorities attempted to whack up room rents by about 40% without any warning. This, understandably, pissed off a lot of people.
So the pissed off people went and had a look at this report (which was being blamed for the rent increases), and discovered that it was, frankly, complete rubbish. The list of things wrong with its conclusions is too long to mention here, but the most important (politically), was the fact that they had completely ignored the effects a big increase in living costs might have on access to Cambridge for applicants from poor backgrounds.
So this became the ideological basis for a huge University-wide protest against rent increases, including rent strikes (i.e. withholding rent payments from colleges) in many colleges.
From Corpus' point of view, students had a good deal. Student representatives had negotiated an agreement with the college several years ago, whereby rent increases would be phased in gradually over a long time, thus not significantly disadvantaging any one year group of students.
In the light of the University-wide uproar, however, the issue was re-examined and it was realised that the access people had a point. The Bursar's Report was complete bullshit, and although nobody presently in Corpus minded paying a little bit extra to be here, it seemed incredibly stupid to raise rents (and thus put off cool clever people from coming here simply for financial reasons) if there was no need.
So a large minority of Corpus students (yes, including me) decided to join the argument, and pressed for more openness from the college about how necessary these rent increases really were. Unsurprisingly, they ignored us. So, at the beginning of Lent Term 2000, about a quarter of Corpus students (yes, including me) went on rent strike.
The rent strike pissed the college off. Not for financial reasons, of course (Corpus is astonishingly rich, which raises the interesting question of why it needs to raise rents...) but because we got into the papers, and so were making Corpus look bad. Luckily for the Fellows, they had a new hero, Dr Chris Kelly, whose appointment at a time of student unrest gave him the perfect opportunity to prove how much better he was at handling us than Dr Beattie.
Even better, Kelly was now the arbiter between two apparently opposing factions - the students and Fellows. He thus had two options:
1) Fulfill his role as student advocate by mediating between the groups, conveying to the Fellows that in fact we were not protesting against them, but for a principle. Try and present our opinions to the Fellows in a manner that showed that the last thing we wanted was to upset them.
2) Sit in the middle playing both groups off each other, generating misinformation in order to make himself look good.
He picked option 2. That was bad.
The Access Issue was upsetting a lot Fellows, but we were in danger of starting to persuade some of them that we weren't just rebellious idiots, despite Kelly's best efforts. This was naturally unacceptable, so Kelly demonstrated his political genius by closing the college bar.
If there is one thing guaranteed to raise the red mist in a group of students, it is to close their bar. I suspect that that is a constant across all cultures, and probably even species. Yet he did. Well he didn't close it entirely, just for half the week, and changing bar hours so that it was open in the mornings instead of the evenings. He decided to call the bar the 'Corpus Cafe', and banned alcohol from it for all but about half an hour a day. In a letter he said that his reasons were:
1) People were drinking too much
2) There was a 'bar culture' in Corpus (i.e. people spent a lot of time talking in the bar)
Aside from the fact that we are students, so destined to drink too much on occasion, it seems odd that one of his reasons for crippling bar opening times was that it was the social centre of the college. We are a small college with few communal spaces, and the bar is very much the kernel of social life in college.
So was Kelly just being immensely insensitive, or was this a tactic to piss off as many students as possible? If it was the latter, then it worked spectacularly well. Overnight Kelly became reviled in college, and Corpus students became the laughing stock of the University for not having a bar. Most tellingly, the sheer volume of vitriol and hatred directed at Kelly completely overwhelmed some people's attempts to show the Fellows that we are in fact (usually) pretty reasonable. All of a sudden the Fellows had clear evidence that we were as irrational as Kelly was portraying us to be.
In the midst of all this, of course, the Access Issue still remained. In the context of the Bar Hours uproar it seemed insignificant, despite being actually much more important. Kelly had to resolve the Access Issue before people came to their senses, and he knew that disbanding the rent strike would make him look even better to the Fellows.
So after several weeks of frustrating negotiations (in the context of threats to throw out all those involved in the strike), he offered the strikers a deal. An end to the rent strike in exchange for the creation of a new committee, including student representatives, to look into the effects of rent increases on access to Corpus. Given that rent strikes in other colleges were starting to fail horribly and that Kelly made it clear that this was the best that he was willing to offer, the strikers capitulated.
We have yet to hear anything about this new Access Committee.
Having dismissed the Access Issue, and as the complaints about bar hours started to die away, reduced bar hours became politically useless to Kelly. Thus when we returned for May term (the exam term), we discovered that bar hours had been mysteriously reinstated. What happened to too much drinking? And the 'bar culture'? I'm sure those problems will conveniently re-emerge whenever is most convenient.
Having suffered the farce that was Kelly's response to the Access Issue, we came into this (exam) term with a new JCR Committee knowing full well that Kelly would do something else to piss us off.
The issue turned out to be Kelly's pet project - an Academic Room Ballot. Until Kelly, rooms were allocated according to a ballot of randomly selected names, with the order of the second year ballot reversed for the third (final) year. Although this sounds odd, it is widely accepted to be completely fair and unbiased. On top of that, room allocation was run by the JCR Committee (the Student Union), not the college.
Kelly decided that was eminently too fair to be allowed to continue to exist. So he proposed an academic room ballot, whereby those with the best results get first choice of rooms. His reasoning (given in another letter) was that this would be an incentive to achieve better grades, which would thus send us spiraling further up the league tables to even greater glory.
There are a myriad of things wrong with the entire concept of an academic room ballot. Here are my favourites:
As I said, this is but a choice selection of dozens of equally good reasons, never mind the huge number of practical problems involved in the idea.
The outgoing JCR Committee (which I was on) put all of these reasons to both Dr Kelly and the Fellows. Unsurprisingly, the Fellows chose to ignore us (although again, in private many agreed), and gave Dr Kelly carte blanche in creating a room ballot, despite having never discussed or even considered the arguments for and against it.
Nevertheless, we were confident that any room ballot that Kelly could conceive would be so unworkable that it would collapse before it could be implemented. Sure enough, every member of college received a substantial paper at the beginning of the exam term outlining Kelly's proposal for a room ballot.
First he promised that the current second year's randomly-allocated room ballot would remain unaffected, because 'it would be unfair to those previously at the bottom of the room ballot' - an effective way of appeasing the most vocal year-group within the college.
Then he proposed system whereby every member of the first year would chose eight rooms that he/she liked. There would be a random ballot as before, except after exam results were published at the beginning of the summer, all those with Firsts (who wished to) would be moved to the top of this ballot. Subsequently Dr Kelly would assign rooms based on the eight selections he had received, as well as other information such as price limits, special requirements...etc.
The practical upshot of Dr Kelly's room ballot is that nobody is certain about where they may be living next year (never mind how much they will be paying or who they will be living near). The more sinister implication is that for most of the first year, Dr Kelly himself will have control over where exactly they live. So this is a scheme that places more power in Dr Kelly's hands. Spot a pattern?
Naturally, the entire college was up in arms. There was a general feeling that this was one insult too many, and that things had to stop. The new JCR Committee valiantly presided over an unprecedented number of extremely heated Open Meetings of the entire college, with record turnouts. Proposals to ignore Kelly's ballot and run an independent one of our own were passed unanimously by a huge number of people.
Behind all this, however, was the nagging fear that Kelly would find a way to punish those who spoke out against him. This was especially true in the first year, who had little idea of what to expect from Cambridge, yet were being asked to bear the brunt of the responsibility by rejecting Kelly's proposals. It thus transpired that there was a significant minority of the first year who were unwilling to stand up to Kelly, despite huge support from other years within Corpus.
Thus when it came to the crunch, the first year crumbled, and so many complied with Kelly's requirements that it became impossible for even the most principled of the others to stand alone. Kelly won. Corpus has now got an academic room ballot.
Exams and May Week came and went, the third year (sadly) just went, and as always, we all looked forward to meeting the new first year. But while we were away over the summer Kelly was hard at work thinking up new ways of being an asshole. One interesting side-effect of our prolonged absence was that we picked up a new set of allies - the college staff. In the absence of students to bully, Kelly felt forced to exercise his megalomaniacal tendencies on the administrative, domestic, maintenance and other college staff. By the end of the summer, absolutely nothing in college was allowed to happen without Kelly's direct permission.
This removed what little autonomy that college staff, notably the porters and the Tutorial Assistant, Anne Phillips, (who previously practically ran the Tutorial Office) had. In private, all the college staff have admitted personal hatred of Kelly for his behaviour - for example, one porter wondered if Kelly was cruising around the Black Sea on holiday on a ship or on his ego. These are powerful people who know how the college works. Was Kelly wise to piss them off?
Kelly was active on issues affecting us over the summer too. He implemented his new academic room ballot based on first year results, and in general most people seem more willing to make the best of their situation rather than ciriticise his methods. Regardless, there is clear evidence that he has not followed the rules he set out - people who stated that they did not wish to move up the ballot got suspiciously big rooms, and all those with lower grades appear to have gotten poorer rooms. One student was denied accommodation in college altogether, and another has been given the smallest room in college despite getting a low 2:2.
Suspicious room allocation was not limited to the new second year, however. At least one of the new third year was repeatedly threatened with withdrawal of accommodation over the course of the summer, with absolutely no constructive help from the man who should be the most sympathetic. Room allocation for the new first year is somewhat suspicious, too - both Fresher classicists have extremely large rooms (Kelly is a classicist).
However, the exact problems with room allocation are difficult to assess - much of this is just hearsay. Luckily, the JCR is currently writing a paper tackling the issue much more thoroughly. Should be interesting reading.
Despite having successfully intimidated last year's first year into agreeing to the academic room ballot, Kelly knew that there are plenty of people in college willing to speak out against him. Thus one of his priorities in the new academic year was to reduce our influence on the new intake - the first year over whom he has total control, and the first year on whom he will be judged. Thus he did several things to encourage segregation between the first year and the rest of the college, most seriously abolishing the Aunts and Uncles scheme, and vetoing the Freshers' Guide, both of which are explained in more detailed below.
He also prevented us from coming up early. Usually the second and third year are allowed to return to college early in order to prevent total chaos on the day Freshers arrive, but more importantly so that we have enough time to prepare a proper Freshers' Week. This year, Kelly declared that nobody was allowed back at all before the Freshers. Even the JCR Committee was not allowed back until two days before the Freshers. Luckily, I managed to get back a whole month early due to the fact that I needed to start a research project, so I got to see all Kelly's antics first-hand. Shame.
Still, despite an extraordinary number of people heroically defying Kelly and coming back to Cambridge by a variety of underhand methods, there was the predictable chaos on Freshers' Day. On top of that, despite all the JCR Committee's efforts, there simply wasn't time to organise Freshers' Week to satisfaction, and it was very much touch-and-go all week. Still, we had good fun and things went well anyway, so it didn't quite turn out like Kelly planned...
Like most colleges and many Universities, until this summer Corpus had a very successful scheme by which every new Fresher was assigned a contact in the same subject who would write to them before term started, and help them subsequently through their time in college. Yet Kelly decided to prevent the Aunts and Uncles scheme from continuing this year - without consultation and without giving any justification. We only found out about this when we actively asked when we would hear who our new Nieces and Nephews would be. Actually, the JCR organises Uncles and Aunts, but it has to rely on the Tutorial Office for the list of new Freshers and their addresses, so unfortunatlely Kelly was in a position to abolish it.
However, in a new and promising development, Kelly was forced into retreat by none other than the newly-appointed Master, Prof. Haroon Ahmed. Apparently, when the Master eventually found out about Kelly abolishing the Aunts and Uncles scheme (of which he wasn't informed of until the very end of the summer) he told Kelly to 'be nicer to students'! Thus just a week before the Freshers arrived, all the new second year got a desperate email appealing for help setting up a 'Welcoming Committee' to replace the Aunts and Uncles scheme. This hurried replacement eventually consisted of just ten random second years for the entire first year. Just as good as before, then, obviously.
Every year the Corpus JCR produces a Freshers' Guide to be sent out (again, via the Tutorial Office) to new Freshers with advice on what to expect and what to bring. In 1998/9 Rachel and I wrote the Freshers' Guide, and this year Simon Crouch essentially took what we wrote and modified it. Despite the fact that the previous Senior Tutor had approved essentially the same document, and that our original guide has been up on the Corpus JCR website since then, Kelly vetoed the guide, criticising it on the basis that 'it isn't written in English' and 'it doesn't emphasise academic work enough'. He also said that it ought to be given to Freshers when they arrived, not before, showing that he had absolutely no idea what it was meant to be for in the first place. Idiot.
What's most grating (not that I took this personally, obviously) was that the Freshers' Guide has been up on the web for ages. While I was involved with the Corpus JCR website I received many emails from applicants praising the information we provided, and those who stayed behind over Christmas 1999 to look after interview candidates also told me that most cited the Corpus JCR website as a major reason for picking Corpus in the first place. Yet Kelly was totally unaware of the existence of this online guide, and thought that Simon had written the Guide from scratch. What an idiot.
Anyhow, fortunately, Kelly went on holiday at the beginning of September, and so handed responsibility over censoring the Freshers' Guide to Dr Justin Meggit, one of the Tutors. With a great deal of effort and clever persuasion, Simon managed to get Dr Meggit to approve the same document that Kelly had vetoed, and it got sent out. Thank God.
On returning to Corpus, we were unsurprised to discover that Kelly has yet again changed the bar hours. Now the bar is only open between 9 and 10:30 (a massive 90 minutes!) every day to sell alcohol. Not only does this make Corpus college bar the worst in Cambridge, it also makes it hugely uneconomical to run. Without alcohol sales, the bar (or 'cafe') runs at a huge loss to the college, which is allegedly trying to cut back on expenditure.
This raises the interesting question of why Kelly did this. There hasn't been any justification, and we can safely disregard his previously stated reasons (excessive drinking and a 'bar culture') because he had no problem reinstating normal bar hours last term. The college is obviously reluctant to lose money, so he must have a very strong reason to do this. The only rational explanation is the same as before - he wants to segregate us from the Freshers. The bar is the centre of Corpus, and by crippling it he is crippling social contact between years and between individuals.
The interesting thing is that there hasn't been the same uproar as there was the first time he tried this. Much of the reason is apathy or pessimism, but I suspect the main reason is that people are just getting used to Kelly. I thought that most people over-reacted to initial restrictions in bar hours, resulting in the loss of the Access Issue, but this total indifference is somehow more worrying. Corpus is changing, and it's changing into a place where what Kelly does is increasingly tolerated.
The fact of the matter is, we're only here for around three years, whereas Kelly will be around for a lot longer. Already, only my year fully remembers what Corpus was like before Kelly took over, and most students here have spent the majority of their time here living under Kelly. Corpus has changed, from a place with many flaws but with a uniquely strong group of people living, working and learning from each other, into a place where people are increasingly left alone, without support or reliable friends, in a highly pressured work environment.
Cambridge is difficult, and many people are miserable here because they don't feel they are being 'normal' students - just pack horses churning out essays or answers to questions. Corpus used to be a place where no-one felt that way, because we had a tiny but extremely supportive, integrated social structure that ensured that nobody was ever allowed to feel lonely or abandoned.
In Kelly's Corpus, things are different. By focusing entirely on academic success, he has ruined not only what made Corpus unique, but what made it successful. The new generation of Kelly's Corpuscles will be normal Cambridge students - over-worked, highly-stressed, and essentially unhappy. And that's a tragedy.
Corpus Christi College Cambridge
4th May 2000
Dr C. Kelly
Cc: Mark Chaloner (JCR President)
Dr J.G. Haslam (Admissions Tutor)
Dr C.J. Howe (Director of Studies for Medicine)
Dear Dr Kelly,
I have been meaning to write to you for some time, but until now I've not had the courage to tell you what I think directly.
Some weeks ago I was invited by my old school (City of London School) to return to talk about Cambridge, just like I did last year. CLS is a private, boys-only school, which I was incredibly lucky to be able to attend thanks to a generous scholarship. It sends over 20 (out of about 100 boys) to Oxbridge every year - I'm sure you know that Chris Applegate in the first year is also from CLS, for example.
What I think you should know is that when I went to talk to this year's Junior VIth, I strongly recommended that none of them consider applying to Corpus. When asked why, I had to reply that it was because the new Senior Tutor had changed the atmosphere of Corpus to such an extent that if I were to apply to Cambridge this year knowing what I know now, I would not apply to Corpus.
Please understand that I fully comprehend the importance of admissions for Corpus. There is no way that Corpus can maintain, never mind improve, its current outstanding academic performance unless we continue to attract the best possible applicants every year. Until last Christmas, I put a great deal of effort into encouraging applications to Corpus. Last year I successfully encouraged people to apply here from my old school. I wrote a great deal of admissions-related material for the Corpus JCR website, which by many accounts was an important factor in many applicants' choice of Corpus. I actively supported and advised two of last year's applicants for medicine to Corpus for over six months - both of whom contacted me through the website.
Also please understand that I love Corpus and I do not for a moment regret being here. There are many faults in Cambridge, Corpus, and medicine in Cambridge, but they are overwhelmingly outweighed by the friendship and mutual support that seems to be stronger here than anywhere else. I am immensely lucky to be able to gain a first-class education in the company of such unique people.
So it was by no means an easy decision for me to start discouraging applications to Corpus. I know that I am actively damaging Corpus by doing so, and that is something that I truly regret. However, the situation here has changed so much over the course of just one term that I felt forced to do this.
The reason, I'm sure, has already been put to you by Carrie and Mark and all the other members of Corpus with the courage to say what they believe. It is truly amazing to me that the man, the Cambridge Fellow, who is ultimately responsible for my current academic and pastoral care, feels capable of completely ignoring what I say. The fact that you feel comfortable with completely disregarding anything that I, or my representatives, try and tell you marks an enormous change in how I feel as a student in Corpus.
The fact is, of course, that you are perfectly entitled to ignore me, regardless of what I think are my rights, and regardless that doing so inevitably damages my development into an adult whose views are worthy of respect. That is just how Cambridge is, and I suspect that things are much worse in other colleges. However, that was not how Corpus was for my first four terms here, and that was part of what made Corpus so special.
Until Christmas, I felt that I was a small but still significant contributor to Corpus, capable of adding something of my own to an institution that has been growing for many times as long as I have lived. Your actions over just four months have shown me that I am just another tourist here - nothing I say or think will have any real effect on Corpus whatsoever. Nevertheless, I refuse to encourage other potential students to come here only to realise the same thing.
So I hope that the next time you make a decision that affects me, you stop to think about how the way you make that decision will affect me, and future applicants to Corpus.
Below is the text of the emails that Dave Sayers wrote regarding Chris Kelly over the course of this year. As ever, click on the relevant link to jump to that section. If you don't understand what Dave is talking about, read though the Why we hate Kelly page for the context of his emails. Enjoy!
29th February 2000
2nd March 2000
4th March 2000
6th March 2000
11th May 2000
THE CORPUS RESTORATION STRIKES BACK
Talk is a form of action. As such, it is a substitute for other forms of action. This is why we at the Corpus Restoration judge the ink that C. M. Kelly has committed to paper regarding the rents problem not primarily in light of its questionable quality, but rather in light of its overwhelming quantity.
The Restoration has set up a secret equation in which every unit of ink, paper and muscle that the Corpus Lords expend through the actions of writing and talking about the rents problem enables them to justify the lack of any other form of action, for instance an actual change of rents policy.
If we insert C. M. Kelly as the variable x in the equation, the upshot is simple: the more C. M. Kelly acts verbally, the less C. M. Kelly will act physically. The more he talks, the less he will do. If hypocrisy is the difference between talk and corresponding action, it follows that Corpus hypocrisy increases in proportion to Corpus talk. But this is a small price to pay for not actually having to do anything about any problem.
Unlike in a democracy, where the same voters are around the second time to assess a politician's hypocrisy, in a 'Corpocracy' we find that a) there are no voters, no votes and no democracy, and b) those who could assess hypocrisy across the years leave the community, replaced by others, for whom the given situation is not hypocrisy, but normal reality. Thus, in the Corpocracy, every three years, hypocrisy is 'normalised' and starts accumulating anew. Roughly speaking, that is.
The Corpus Restoration applauds the efforts of the rent strikers. From the outset they knew that if push came to shove, they would rather pay up than face the consequences. They also knew that the best they could hope to extract from the Corpus Lords was a commitment to further talk. They have achieved their goals: the Lords are talking more than ever before, and the strikers can continue their academic education (we are not trying to put them down: after all they knew that talk was the best they could hope for).
If they had actually achieved something more than this, C. M. Kelly would be condemning them, not lauding them. At the moment, he is praising the efforts and sensible attitude of S. Campbell and his consorts in an attempt to popularise them in the eyes of the Corpus community. They have done all that could be done, have achieved the maximum of what students can achieve, so now we can thank them, shut up, and go back to work.
A piece of PR advice to C. M. Kelly: Corpus students do not like you. This means they will not like people you present as examples, either. If you want Corpus to like a group of people, you have to say that you hate them. Your unpopularity will then have the reverse psychological effect that people will like whomever you purport not to like.
Which brings us to the other side of the coin, and the subject of Carrie Park. You have made your dislike for this particular person so obvious that she has become a hero all across the Corpus Restoration headquarters. Some of us have even taken to worshipping icons depicting Ms. Park with a dreamy smile, staring at nothing particular in mid-distance, and clutching a radiant heart before her chest. Well, I guess every guerilla movement needs its religious moment.
Ms. Park, like all other students at Corpus, has come here expecting expert tutelage and support in matters both academic and personal. The snide remarks and immature sarcasm that she got instead cannot have been what she, or, for that matter, her parents, expected when making the decision to join this community. Nothing that a student could possibly do can justify the way in which you, a supposedly superior person entrusted with Ms. Park's education and welfare, have betrayed that trust. Perhaps, in addition to your undoubtedly time-and-energy-consuming lecture on late antiquity, you should add in one or two on the topic of how to be a good and responsible tutor who takes his commitment towards each individual of his community seriously. We feel convinced you have some interesting aspects to contribute to the subject.
PS. Please feel free to forward this message to anyone who might be interested in joining the worthy cause of the Corpus Restoration.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOUR 1stS WERE SAFE...
Another amusing outpouring of ink by C. M. Kelly stops the Corpus Restoration from doing a day's academic work. At this rate, we'll never get those 1sts we are secretly all dreaming of. Oh my.
You couldn't be bothered to read his letter? Don't worry; its content will only make you angry. It most memorably includes the claim that a list of ten people constitutes a meaningful statistic, the naming of individual students' backgrounds and grades without their consent, and similar outrages.
What really is important is the motivation behind the letter being written in the first place. This one is simple: C. M. Kelly is attempting to bypass our JCR because they are not playing along with him. By informing us directly of his decisions and counting on our apathetic reaction, he is trying to legitimise his actions in a roundabout way while getting away with ignoring the representatives we elect for the very purpose of discussing these actions.
The Corpus Restoration would like to propose a better way to incite people to get 1sts than a meritocratic room ballot. As we know, this academic year, all students with 2.2s and 3rds were awarded 'an exciting afternoon with C. M. Kelly.' Who needs room ballots? If C. M. Kelly were to also include 2.1-students in his threat of making people spend time in his presence, everybody would surely pull all possible strings to get a 1st.
C. M. Kelly is actually not interested in us, the students populating Corpus right now. Since we came here before he was Senior Tutor, he cannot be held responsible for our academic shortcomings; we are the old debris that will fall off Corpus in max. 2 years' time. What C. M. Kelly is interested in is the character and mind-frame of those who will take our places, selected and encouraged by him, the successful Senior Tutor.
This is why it is important that the new room ballot system will not change very much in practice, but rather the principles and values that Corpus represents. Yes, people who value academic success will be encouraged to come to Corpus. But those whose values include equality, criticism towards authority, and a sense of justice beyond utilitarian concerns will only need to take one look at the Corpus page in the University Prospectus to know where they will definitely not be applying.
A short lesson in secondary virtues: you can run a Nazi concentration camp with diligence and talent (the virtues C. M. Kelly wants), but you can't run it with equality, criticism towards authority, and a sense of justice (the virtues C. M. Kelly doesn't care about). C. M. Kelly aims to mould the future Corpus community towards diligence and talent, but he forgets (if not cynically calculates) the fact that his policies to this end will neither encourage people of sound character to apply here, nor foster such a character once people are here. Corpus will churn out 1sts without faces, achievers without attitude and Corpuscles without character.
On a lighter note, we would like to end with an excerpt from an interview the Corpus Restoration has held with a fictitious member of college on the issue of room ballots (any likeness to existing or dead persons is for purely satirical reasons):
"[..] As it happens, despite your moratorium, I have continued to W**K to a wide range of people in the College, and am in the process of W**KING [on?] a paper dealing with room ballots and other closely related issues. It will, I fear, be a long W**K (perhaps 4,000 W**KS when completed at some stage this coming week); it is taking a long time to prepare, as it also must compete against other pressing tutorial business. [...] But I think, when completed and circulated, my W**K will be sufficient for its purpose. Moreover, I hope it will serve to allay the great deal of irresponsible rumour, considerable mis-information and much ill-informed speculation in the College which the unilaterally imposed "moratorium" on W**K in the last week has permitted to flourish. [...]"
David Sayers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"AND VERILY, THEY SHALL FLOCK TO THE RESTORATION "
The Corpus community's response to the antics of the Corpus Restoration has been quite overwhelming. Here is a selection of new propaganda, disseminated with permission of the authors.
[NAME withheld by request] wrote:
The Corpus Restoration missed something from their last letter. This is the extra work caused by Dr Kelly to all students choosing six rooms instead of one, and hearing only in July which room they will end up with.
If choosing one room takes about two days, for choosing six rooms you must allow at least two weeks. If every student must go through every room to find out which six they like (after all, they might choose a room that has already been chosen), the process will involve 180 students knocking at 250 doors. If it takes 3 minutes for a person to look at a room, each undergraduate will spend 9 hours answering his or her door and 12.5 hours knocking at other people's doors. Add to this the time it takes to actually find the current occupant in his or her room.
This means that for the ten first-class-students to get a better room, the whole college will stop working for at least two weeks, which no doubt will catapult Corpus back onto the 23rd place in the league tables. Let's also remember all the time and effort it will take to move everyone around in the summer when exam results are published. If a first-class-student chooses a room that the person at the top of the lottery has chosen, this person will get his or her second choice room, chosen by someone else who only wants to pay £400 for his room, ad infinitum. Thus, Corpus will have to employ another 20 highly educated people for a month to sort out who actually gets which room. Which will in turn probably double room rents over the next 2 years.
And all this just for the sake of those few people who get firsts and want one particular room, after already having been rewarded £500 for their firsts.
TOM PERRIN wrote:
Just another piece of subtlety to the room ballot plan - by not making the system compulsory, the onus lies with the undergraduates as individuals to choose not to implement the new scheme. If all 1st candidates ask not to be moved to the top of the ballot, it will remain as before. However, if those undergrads with 1sts allow themselves to go to the top of the ballot, they, not Chris Kelly, will be responsible for 'betraying' the JCR, and Dr. Kelly will be off the hook...
[NAME withheld by request] wrote:
Pretty good man but you still haven't mentioned his antipodean tendencies and the axe cut on his shoulder. [Well. I have never actually met the man (if we're talking about the same person), so I'm trying to avoid too sweeping generalisations about his personal character. Instead, I try to focus on the obvious.]
[compilation by David Sayers, email@example.com]
EPILOGUE: IT ALL CAME TO US IN A DREAM
'Will you kindly stop mailing me this rubbish.' - Jonathan G. Haslam, DoS in History
'We think it important that you are informed that of the twelve people who gained firsts in their first year exams last year, eleven of us would have rejected the chance to be moved to the top of an academic room ballot. [The only 1st-class-student not included wrote a personal letter to C. M. Kelly, also condemning a meritocratic room ballot.] [I think I best leave the actual names out for privacy reasons... Conn]
Recently, students at Corpus have been focusing a lot of energy on the room ballot issue. This, like everything else we do, of course actually helps C. M. Kelly and the Corpus Lords. This is due to the fact that for every point that C. M. Kelly brings up on the Corpus agenda, there are ten other points that C. M. Kelly wishes nobody to think about. He is baiting us with an easy target so he can swim away while we all swarm around it. And who knows what the administrative, as opposed to academic, Corpus Lords are getting up to while we rage about rooms? Perhaps they are buying shares for Corpus in arms-producing companies, which is a common practice among Cambridge colleges. How is that for a cause to rage against?
Since the foundation of the Corpus Restoration, a great lot of people have been sending e-mails pledging their support to the movement's cause. However, the Corpus Restoration has no 'cause' as such. If you really want to do something, think. See the lateral connections where nobody suspects them. Walk down dead end streets just to see whether you can scale the wall at the end. Connect the flapping of the butterfly's wing in Sydney, Australia with the tornado in Corpus Christi, Cambridge. Do not concern yourself too much with the possible; if something is impossible, do it for the sole reason that you can't possibly do it.
This farcical place is little more than a testing-ground for us all. We can achieve very little change in real terms here, but we can hone our intellectual skills. At this point, few of us really want or feel the need to bear the uncomfortable consequences of having radical opinions. But at some point, we might or might not come across situations where we feel we have to do something, quite regardless of the consequences for ourselves. If and when this happens, the weapons of our mind will come in handy.
The Corpus Restoration is temporarily ceasing its transmissions with this missive. However, if there are issues in this College that you feel need to be publicly addressed, feel free to bring them to our attention.
David Sayers [firstname.lastname@example.org]
THE BEST IS YET TO COME
Ooh yes. Nobody expects the Corpus Restoration. You think it is fashionable to insult the Senior Tutor, to talk badly behind his back and to pass votes of no confidence against him in his absence. And since doing this assures your credibility, now you can go and condone C. M. Kelly's policies anyway. What a rebel you are. The Corpus Restoration salutes you.
You, all first years who failed to hand in empty ballot forms to the JCR President, are directly responsible for establishing an academic room ballot in Corpus. In exchange, you are now about to be insulted and humiliated in public, before the eyes of the Senior Tutor, your personal tutors and DoS's, and everybody you care about in this college community. Yes, they are all going to get this message, and they know who you are. You might have thought you were going to get away with your behaviour, but, sadly, everything has its price (or prize), and this is yours. Lap it up.
There are three reasons for condoning the academic room ballot. These are opportunism, fear, and apathy. Correspondingly, those who did so fall into three categories. Opportunism is human. Fear turns you into an animal. Apathy means you are a vegetable. Opportunism is human, and since you, as humans, know how to think, you have realised that every dog gets a bone if he / she just begs for long enough, and have applied this lesson to your lives. You have acted out of a human motivation, but I am still calling you dogs. God knows the poor beasts don't deserve to be put into the same category as you. Any self-respecting human has nothing but utter disdain for the likes of you.
Fear turns you into an animal. You can try to run and hide, but since you are fundamentally stupid, sooner or later you will be led to the slaughterhouse anyway. Enjoy the simple pleasures of life, such as nice college rooms, as long as you can, because soon enough I will be buying your carcasses at the cheap butcher's around the corner for two quid a piece. You are not even worthy of my disdain. My pity, maybe. Yes, I pity you.
Apathy means you are a vegetable. You do not think. You are not even developed enough to know fear. Since you do not possess the faculty of comprehension, everything I say here is going to completely pass you by, and you will not even feel insulted. You are everywhere: common, ordinary, and utterly worthless. You are the ones I uproot for fun when I'm bored and sitting on the lawn. Any form of emotion would be wasted on you.
C. M. Kelly, who is smarter than all of you put together, knows about this distinction. Accordingly, he has placated the first group, scared the second group, and used the third group as fertiliser for his plans. He has no respect for you whatsoever and is exploiting your basest motivations. He knows you all hate him and talk behind his back, but since he also knows that he is a big, fat zero without your support (he would not be the first Senior Tutor to lose his position due to lack of popularity), he is ready to compromise: he will be your clown in private as long as you are his in public. Hence, enter burgers and wine.
What's done is done. Corpus has an academic room ballot. And C. M. Kelly, since he knows exactly what he is doing and why he is doing it, will find nothing new in this missive. All that the Corpus Restoration can do now is make sure that you, the first years who are responsible for this ballot, never forget exactly what you are.
Remember how you laughed out loud reading the Restoration letters about C. M. Kelly last term? Well, everyone will laugh out loud when they get this one.
But this time, the joke's on you.
David Sayers [email@example.com]