Nov 122010

By Fred Wilkinson.

From an assortment of mail a few days ago, I picked out what I thought was my Musician’s Union members magazine. It turned out to be issue 6 of  ‘Connect’ – the magazine for alumni and friends of RGU. These arrive so infrequently, that I can’t remember when I received the last one.

In light of recent events, and the idea that I don’t like being called an alumnus any more than I consider myself a ‘friend of RGU’, I decided to write to RGU to ‘cancel my subscription’ and offer them illumination from an ‘alumnus’ with regard to my reasons.

Dear Sir/Madam.

Thank you for the latest edition of ‘Connect’ – the magazine for alumni and friends of Robert Gordon University. It’s arrival through the letter box has always been welcome in that it reminds me of good times studying at RGU, and previously R.G.I.T.

It has always represented to me a sense of belonging, and a nice gesture in that despite the fact 10 years have passed since I completed my last course, RGU still remembers, and the door is always open.

However, delivery of this latest issue stirred up a completely different range of feelings.

The day I discovered that I had passed my HNC in Social Care ( inc SVQ 3 ) is one I will always remember with great pride and admittedly, much relief. Dedicated as I was to care work, the coursework was extremely valuable, and possession of said qualification allowed me to access some valuable opportunities and experiences, but more importantly, gave me confidence and equipped me to provide an improved level of care to service users, and confirmed to me the validity of my decision to follow a career in this worthwhile and rewarding profession.

How times have changed. Every single care establishment where I have worked has been closed down as Aberdeen City Council slashes budgets, and redefines who it has (or rather who it does not have) a responsibility to serve on the basis of need, means and/or ability. The very same organisation which seconded me to the HNC/SVQ in order that I would repay their faith in improved performance via improved knowledge, understanding and skills, now appears to have no need of my services, nor the services of many others with similar levels of experience and qualifications.

unlike Mr. Trump, I was obliged to finish my course (pardon the pun) before I received my award

In effect, the cutting of costs has devalued members of every vulnerable client group, every worker, and the social work service as a whole. Similarly, via the same decision making processes, my qualification has greatly diminished in value.

What little value it may have retained disappeared completely with RGU’s decision to award Donald Trump an Honorary Doctorate, ironically at its faculty of Health and Social Care. I was of a mind to return said qualification in support of former principal David Kennedy and in protest over the award to Donald Trump. However, the moment where I had nothing better to do than look for a worthless piece of paper never quite materialised.

My qualification was achieved not only as a result of the excellent standard of tuition at RGU’s Kepplestone premises, but  from two years of hard study, sleepless nights, a hunger to learn and succeed, and a constant battle with stress and self doubt. But unlike Mr. Trump, I was obliged to finish my course (pardon the pun) before I received my award despite the fact the level of my qualification is humble compared to that awarded to Mr. Trump.

The very idea of this ill advised Honorary Doctorate being handed over at a ceremony within premises designed for the education of professional carers – to an individual who has brought division, destruction, anxiety and misery to a small community and particular individuals – including an elderly woman is, frankly, sickening.

The idea of an establishment, dedicated to care, playing host to a man who publicly displays disregard and contempt for ordinary people – a man who publicly humiliates ‘neighbours’, and privately endorses acts which deeply hurt those same ‘neighbours’, would have been exceptionally bizarre if it didn’t actually happen.

Therefore,  I ask, so that I can distance myself to some extent from the distasteful association between Donald Trump and RGU, that you will remove me from the mailing list and no longer send me ‘the magazine for alumni and friends of RGU’. Whether your door is always open or not is of no consequence to myself anymore, and I live in hope that other alumni will follow my example.

If so, then there is a faint glimmer of hope that you will need to produce less, thereby preserving resources an offsetting a tiny proportion of the ecological and environmental destruction carried out in the name of Donald Trump.

Yours Faithfully,

Fred Wilkinson

Oct 222010

The first run of a beautiful new calendar depicting the unique and stunning scenery of the Menie/Foveran coastal area has proved so popular that it has already sold out – within 3 weeks of production. Apart from raising funds for the Tripping Up Trump campaign, the pictures bear witness to the beauty and wildlife of the dunes and draw attention to the on-going destruction of a Site of Special Scientific Interest. A second run of the calendars is now being negotiated and will be available for sale in the coming weeks.

Indeed, despite a marked lack of coverage in most of the local media, this has been a very busy period for the Tripping Up Trump campaign as Rohan Beyts tells Aberdeen Voice;

‘”What with producing our newspaper, preparing the calendar, mounting an exhibition and organising the March of Menie it has been a period of intense activity for all of us.

While it seemed that the media could not get enough of Trump – threatening householders, running for president, claiming that his resort had been a ‘done deal’ and posing with his new doctorate – we decided to focus on the real issues – the loss of a wonderful national asset and the effects on the local community.

So the idea of putting on an event was mooted, a walk possibly in the dunes before winter set in, a show of support for the threatened householders and an exhibition close by to get across what the local press has not been saying.  There were a few obstacles and time moved on. Was it going to be too much?

On 16th September came the announcement of that Degree.

We decided to do the walk – The March of Menie – from Balmedie to The Bunker in support of the householders.

Then there was the exhibition. It was a lot to organise in a mere 3 weeks but TUT is more than 2 people and a dog so we did. Could we get a suitable venue for the exhibition? Would the calendar be ready?  Could we get the newspaper out?  Yes, Yes and Yes again.

Despite information from the police to the contrary there was good route all the way to The Bunker.

  • The March was publicised on 21st September
  • A venue for the exhibition obtained on 3rd October
  • 2 Slide shows were put together
  • Bob Smith agreed that we could display his wonderful verses
  • Displays were made on the Environment, People and Economics of the development.
  • Sheila Forbes and Susan Munro offered to provide light refreshments.
  • We were up and running (or marching).

On Saturday 9th October the March set off (a short delay was filled by some excellent drumming) with dogs, grannies, mothers, fathers, grandads ,sons, daughters, farmers, fishermen, workers, students, greens, socialists, lib dems, tories, graduates, soldiers; we had them all walking the dunes to the Bunker led by an excellent young piper and representatives of the families.

The Police and the Evening Express estimated 250 on the march so draw your own conclusions.

The calendars and David Milne’s book ‘Blinded by Bling??’ [Still available via Waterstones or Amazon] sold well at the exhibition. The calendar all but sold out in 10 days from the first production of 250 with no publicity other than word of mouth.

If you would like to pre-order from the next reprint e-mail me at and I will let you know when they will be available through the website. They cost £5.00 each plus P&P.”

Aberdeen Voice understands there have been a number of enthusiastic comments from those – including some professional photographers – who have already bought the A3-sized calendar;

‘Amazing, the pictures are fantastic.’
‘Wow, it shows just what we are in danger of losing’
‘Great value, that’s my Christmas presents sorted.’
‘Love the pictures and all the information on the back.’
Aberdeen Voice wishes TUT all the best of luck with the calendar, and are grateful for permission to reproduce those beautiful images.

Oct 152010

By Sisterraysaid.

Academic institutions have always relied on benefactors and capitalist vested interests to fill their coffers and bestow them with status in the eyes of the great unwashed. The old universities have centuries of experience in the dark arts of spin, clandestine arrangements and the smoothing of waters through the old boys network.

The new universities scrabble around the table for leftovers or invent novel degrees in a variety of vocational pursuits in order to make ends meet. When carrots are dangled it is hard for them not to bite.

In the case of the honorary degree for Donald Trump at the Robert Gordon University the morsel was not only tasty but it brought together a meeting of egos in the form of Sir Ian Wood and the aforementioned Trump.

Two self-styled entrepreneurial philanthropic throwbacks to an era of unregulated free market capitalism have come together to comfort each other as they attempt to drive through their respective egotistical visions.

The ignorant populace of the north east just can’t see the benevolence in their actions and insist on raising questions regarding the morality of over ruling the democratically expressed views of the public and moving to evict citizens from their homes.

Sir Ian, as the Chancellor of the Robert Gordon University, has decided to honour Trump in a blatant political act of offering two fingers to those questioning whether their respective Union Square and Menie Golf Course projects have any grounding in ethical business practice.

The University’s own Academic Regulations have anticipated the potential for awards being awarded to unsuitable persons through reference to Honorary degrees being conferred on people ‘that represent good role models for the University’s students.’

Academic Regulations [Honorary Awards].

1.1 The following Honorary Doctorate Degrees may be conferred on persons who have achieved distinction in education, industry, business, culture, creative work or public service. Other considerations may include the fact that their achievements have a particular relevance to the University’s Mission, and that they represent good role models for the University’s students.

There has it appears been little interrogation of the personal qualities of Mr Trump and how they can be construed in terms of a suitable role model for students.

In an ironic twist the university has been pursuing staff to clarify as to whether they may have any conflicts of interest in relation to their role in the university, one of the criteria being involvement in activities that could bring the university into disrepute. Staff obviously don’t have to try on this score as the Governors are doing a grand job on their own

Oct 082010

By Bob Smith.

Hats aff ti David Kennedy
First principal o thon RGU
In hannin’ back his ain degree
Agin Trump he’s teen a view

Nae haudin’ back fae Dr Kennedy
Jist stracht an ti the pint
Trump’s nae the chiel fa’s heid
Wi mortar cap they should anint

Young fowk shouldna folla
Big Donald’s business practice
David Kennedy yer sic a star
Trump’ll be a bittie fractious

A former principal wi principles
Fit he’s nae willin ti compromise
Jist fair tells it as he sees it
Trump’s nae gweed the mannie cries

Noo a ye Trumpy hingers on
Jist listen here a wee file
Donald he’s bit a chuncer
David Kennedy he’s got style.

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2010

Oct 012010

By Bob Smith.

Trump flees in fae New York toon
Maybe wi flechs on University goon
Some micht say the “louse” is the wearer
Nae his claes fit are the bearer

New York city it is bug infested
At Dyce Airport Trump should be tested
Ti see if he is the cairrier o
Thae beesties fit loup ti an fro’

The thocht o flechs gyaan fae fowk ti fowk
Is aneuch ti mak some hae a cowk
Fit fin Trump is gettin’ his degree
A louse it lans on a wifie’s knee?

Her skirls wid be heard up in Turra
As she leaves the hall in a hurra
Itchin’ ti scratch the bit fit’s yockie
Fowk’ll think she’s deein’ the hokey cokey

The flech o coorse is haein’ gran’ fun
As aa the fowk are on the run
Trump’s fans they micht hae a grouse
The rest o us toast “Ti A Louse”

Here’s ti you wee loupin’ beestie
Awa ye go an hae a feastie
On Donald’s bleed hae a gweed sook
Maybe on his erse ye’ll raise a plook

©Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie “ 2010

See also Former Principal Returns Award

Sep 242010

(Noo the Richt Gits University)

by Bob Smith.

The Donald his been awarded
A University honorary degree
His the principal gin aff his heid
At yon learned placie by the Dee?

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