Staff at University of London colleges have issued the following open letter against the criminalisation of student protest
Wednesday night’s eviction of a student occupation of the University of London’s Senate House building crossed another threshold in the criminalization of protest on our campuses. Rather than responding to a set of eminently reasonable and practicable demands, which try to defend the right to education and to just working conditions in our university, senior management at the University of London have yet again decided that when faced with the option between dialogue and repression, they will turn to the latter. Chris Cobb, Chief Operating Officer and University Secretary of UoL, declared that: “This was a disgraceful and aggressive act, which placed the safety of our staff at risk. The University will always support peaceful and legitimate protest’. The mendacity of this statement is breathtaking.
‘Disgraceful and aggressive’ describes very well the behaviour of management willing to ban all protest in Senate House*, regardless of how peaceful, collude in the arrest of students, and call violent police and security guards to evict protesters before entering into any serious dialogue whatsoever.
Students and staff are being bombarded with marketing talk about ‘the student experience’ but as soon as they act as anything other than compliant consumers, their spaces are taken away and their right to political expression and assembly quashed. It seems that the people who run our universities will move heaven and earth to improve satisfaction statistics for the National Student Survey, but are perfectly at ease with police officers punching their students in the face. This situation is intolerable. We demand that the University of London Vice-Chancellor and the University of London Collegiate Council act immediately to rescind the closure of University of London Union and the prohibition of protest at Senate House, and stop calling police onto our campuses at the least sign of serious dissent. Universities should be run for students and staff, not against them. If senior management refuses to understand this, those who work and learn in our universities will have to draw the consequences and act to show that we have no confidence in those who run our institutions.
* This ban appears to have been extended to the whole of the Bloomsbury campus. A 'cops off campus' day of action has been called for 2pm, Wednesday December 11.
Signed by 190 workers at University of London colleges.
La Young Jackson
Lee Lundstrom Rothwell
Silke Arnold-de Simine
Hilde C. Stephansen
School of Oriental and African Studies
Fatih Cagatay Cengiz
Eleanor T. Higgs
Andrew David Jackson
Lars Peter Laamann
Nydia A. Swaby
Anicée van Engeland
Elisa Van Waeyenberge
Other colleges of UoL (UCL, Courtauld, LSE, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
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