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Dr Leon Rocha (University of Lincoln)

31 January 2020


Election address

Dr Leon Rocha, Senior Lecturer in Chinese History, University of Lincoln (post-92)

I am a Senior Lecturer in Chinese History at University of Lincoln, and social media officer in my UCU branch. Before moving to Lincoln, I taught at University of Liverpool and was an ordinary committee member in Liverpool UCU during the 2018 USS industrial action, the redundancy programme that immediately followed, and the local dispute on performance management. I have first-hand understanding of the disastrous effects of marketisation on both pre-92 and post-92 institutions.

I was part of Jo Grady's General Secretary campaign team (design and tech support), and I was inspired by her manifesto's focus on mobilising UCU members' tremendous wealth of expertise and lived experiences. I am running for NEC to serve UCU with my knowledge and skills.

1. Evidence-based activism on university mental health
I am the principal investigator of a collaborative project, 'Mapping and Diagnosing Mental Health in / and the UK University Sector' (funded by Wellcome Trust), which will produce the first network map of UK Higher Education, pinpointing key actors and organisations who have power and influence in relation to university health and well-being. My research animates my activism; we can hold our employers to account on policies and structures—such as staff under-investment, rampant casualisation, sham 'workload models'—that contribute to the deterioration of our mental health.

2. Against institutional racism and the Hostile Environment
According to the Royal Historical Society, only 6.3% of historians employed at UK universities are BAME. Black academic staff are paid on average 14% less than white academic staff. Meanwhile, under the Hostile Environment, we have all been recruited to be 'border guards' monitoring and reporting on our own colleagues and students. As an immigrant and BAME worker, I will push UCU to continue to foreground and challenge the structural inequalities in Higher Education. We must also mount effective campaigns to resist the daily surveillance and harassment of staff and students by university employers.

3. Opening up the NEC and beyond factionalism
I am one of the founders of USSbriefs (see and Twitter @USSbriefs), a scholar-activist collective making significant interventions in the ongoing disputes in UK Higher Education—from USS pensions, irresponsible metrics and 'university rankings', to the unprecedented intrusion of financial interests into the sector. If elected, I will bring USSbriefs' spirit of accessibility and transparency to open up the NEC, and produce timely reports, podcasts and short films that inform all members how decisions are made in the union. I am not a member of either of the two UCU factions ('UCU Left' and 'Independent Broad Left / Progressive Left'). My only political agenda is to defend our profession and fight for education.

Last updated: 31 January 2020