University of Sheffield under fire over attempts to move archaeology areas to unrelated fields

The University of Sheffield has received "very strong intervention" from the student union in a three-hour senate meeting held yesterday over the proposed closure of its Department of Archaeology.

Thursday, 24th June 2021, 2:07 pm

Professor Umberto Arbarella, who was not present at the meeting but received information from those who attended it, said the union expressed "very serious concerns" about the whole process.

"This whole thing is affecting the mental health of the students and is going to compromise their academic experience. There was a very strong presentation (made to the senators)."

He said the meeting, which was chaired by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Gill Valentine, also indicated that the university was "unprepared" by the massive national and international outrage objecting to the proposal.

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A rally held in protest against the Department of Archaeology closure.
A rally held in protest against the Department of Archaeology closure.

He also revealed that the executive board, who proposed the closure, is attempting to move the disciplines to completely unrelated fields, a move he described as "ill-thought."

He said the proposal, among others, is to move one area to the School of Medicine and another to the Department of Landscape Architecture.

"They're desperately trying to spin the ridiculous proposal of moving bits of archaeology to the School of Medicine and the Department of Landscape Architecture as an investment or a positive move, while it is just an element of their act of cultural vandalism.

"This is an ill-thought plan that just shows their complete ignorance of what we do and how flawed their collection of information is.

"This is hardly surprising considering that they have failed to consult us and our students properly.

"They don't even understand the basics of our work and have the arrogance of making plans regarding how our discipline should be taught and organised!" he said.

Umberto also expressed his disappointment that the students from the affected department were not allowed to take part in the meeting.

"We also asked for our student representatives from our department to attend the meeting and we were very disappointed when this was denied.

"This was very irresponsible and in bad taste. They should've allowed some of our students to take part."

He said following the senate meeting yesterday, those present were asked to fill in questionnaires which will then be brought to the council meeting on July 12, where a final decision will be made.