Letter: Oxford dons fear for green space

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The Independent Online
Oxford dons fear for green space

Sir: John Patten, in his article about the School of Management Studies at Oxford University ("Lucre made the spires what they are", 9 November), completely misrepresents both the issue under debate and the reasons why so many voted against the proposal.

The question of whether Oxford should or should not have a School of Management was not in question; this has been part of the university's plan for some time. Neither was Mr Said's generosity. The speakers on both sides of the debate fully supported the school and gratefully acknowledged Mr Said's gift.

The issue being debated was whether the school should be on a particular site, and one that had been sold to the university 30 years ago on condition that it was to remain a "green space" in perpetuity.

Those who voted against the motion did so for three main reasons. Firstly, that the site should remain unbuilt on, as was agreed when it was bought; secondly, that the site was offered to Mr Said, and a design for the building decided on, without sufficient consultation with all the university and college bodies concerned; thirdly, that it appears that the governing body of the proposed school would have only a minority representation from the university, with the majority being appointed by Mr Said.

The speakers against the motion were concerned not only with preserving one of the ever-decreasing areas of green space in Oxford's city centre, but also with keeping good faith with the conditions of sale of the land, and with issues of open government within the university.