I'm sure you're thinking what I'm thinking: lame. That's the best they could come up with? 'Defaming'? Clearly the art of vigorous denouncement without engaging in debate has suffered since the good old days. They need help. So here's a suggestion of how the university ought to have attempted to suppress legitimate whistleblowing - with apologies to Pope Gregory XI:
Bull of the University of Nottingham, Against Rod Thornton
The University, servus servorum sapientiae, to her beloved children the students of the University, in the diocese of Russell, grace and benediction.
We are compelled to wonder and grieve that you, who, in consideration of the favours and privileges conceded to your student body by the University, and on account of your familiarity with the Code of Discipline, in whose sea you navigate, by the gift of knowledge, with auspicious oar, you, who ought to be, as it were, warriors and champions of the orthodox faith, without which there is no economic growth, - that you through a certain sloth and neglect allow tares to spring up amidst the pure wheat in the fields of your glorious University aforesaid; and what is still more pernicious, even continue to grow to maturity. And you are quite careless, as has been lately reported to us, as to the extirpation of these tares; with no little clouding of a bright name, danger to your careers, contempt of the laws of this land, and injury to the faith above mentioned. And what pains us the more, is that this increase of the tares aforesaid is known in London before the remedy of extirpation has been applied in the School of Politics where they sprang up. By the insinuation of many, if they are indeed worthy of belief, deploring it deeply, it has come to our ears that Rod Thornton, Lecturer of the School of Politics, at the University of Nottingham, Expert in Terrorism (would that he were not also Master of Errors), has fallen into such a detestable madness that he does not hesitate to dogmatise and publicly preach, or rather vomit forth from the recesses of his breast, certain propositions and conclusions which are erroneous and false. He has cast himself also into the depravity of preaching heretical dogmas which strive to subvert and weaken the state of the whole University and even secular polity, some of which doctrines, in changed terms, it is true, seem to express the perverse opinions and unlearned learning of Rizwaan Sabir of cursed memory, and of Hicham Yezza, whose book is extant, rejected and cursed by our predecessor, Sir Colin Campbell, of happy memory. This he has done at the University of Nottingham, lately glorious in its power and in the abundance of its resources, but more glorious still in the glistening piety of its faith, and in the distinction of its sacred learning; producing also many men illustrious for their exact knowledge of the Code of Discipline, mature in the gravity of their character, conspicuous in devotion, defenders of the Management Board. He has polluted certain of the faithful by sprinkling them with these doctrines, and led them away from the right paths of the aforesaid faith to the brink of perdition.
Wherefore, since we are not willing, nay, indeed, ought not to be willing, that so deadly a pestilence should continue to exist with our connivance, a pestilence which, if it is not opposed in its beginnings, and torn out by the roots in its entirety, will be reached too late by medicines when it has infected very many with its contagion; we command you with strict admonition, in virtue of your sacred obedience, and under penalty of the deprivation of all the favours, indulgences, and privileges granted to you by the said University, for the future not to permit to be asserted or proposed to any extent whatever, the opinions, conclusions, and propositions which are in variance with good morals and faith, even when those proposing strive to defend them under a certain fanciful wresting of words or of terms. Moreover, you are on our authority to suspend the said Rod, or cause him to be suspended. Besides, if there should be, which God forbid, among you opponents stained with these errors, and if they should obstinately persist in them, proceed vigorously and earnestly to a similar removal of them, and otherwise as shall seem good to you. Be vigilant to repair your negligence which you have hitherto shown in the premises, and so obtain our gratitude and favour, besides the honor and reward of the Management Board's recompense.
Better, eh? They really ought to get some papal scribes to smarten up their public relations effort. But seriously: the circumstances surrounding all this (for which please read Rod Thornton's paper, 112 pages long though it may be) stink to high heaven. It is unfortunate that our university, which prides itself on its allegedly open, democratic culture, should seek to attack its own students and lecturers and attempt to suppress dissent. We have a management culture that rewards loyalty and punishes heresy, one that disdains to follow its own procedures - it was a moment of grim amusement for me when Rod Thornton in his paper became the third person I know of to independently call the university 'Kafkaesque' in print. We can't let them get away with it.