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Manchester students protest

Manchester students protest. Photo: Lucy Nichols

Students in Manchester marched in their hundreds to send a clear message to the university management: they're not backing down

Hundreds of students from Manchester braved snow and wind on Friday to demand reduced tuition fees, a practical Covid response and fair examination practices from the University of Manchester.

The march began at the foot of Owen’s Park Tower, and students continued on to St Peter’s Square – stopping for brief speeches outside the Student Union and main university campus.

The disproportionate number of police were heavy-handed throughout the demonstration, with student activists repeatedly threatened with arrest and often dragged away from the main demonstration – mainly for setting off flares.

The demonstration – a culmination of months of anger at the University of Manchester – was angry and defiant. Chants took aim at Nancy Rothwell, the overzealous campus security, and the heavy police presence (on foot, in vans, and on horseback).

The march, which brought traffic to a standstill on Oxford Road finished with a number of speeches outside Manchester Central Library. Towards the end of the closing rally, all hell broke loose as students letting off flares were aggressively reprimanded by a small group of police officers. Though the flares were confiscated, the students escaped, and the police were swiftly surrounded and seen off by the rest of the demonstrators. Despite minor drama, the protest ended on a high, as police scampered off with their tails between their legs.

Photo: Lucy Nichols

With Semester 1 now coming to a close, tensions are increasingly high between students and management. A Vote of No Confidence in senior members of staff is to go ahead in the New Year, with student activists leading the campaign to replace all those behind the semester’s horrific treatment of students and staff.

Students' campaigns have taken aim not only at Nancy Rothwell, but various other members of management – including Patrick Hackett and Diana Hampson, who were largely responsible for the erection of fences around the Fallowfield campus in early November.

While it is hard to predict what will happen in the new year, it is certain that students will continue to take on the University of Manchester, with more protests and direct action planned for the coming months.

Rent Strikes for January are planned in countless Universities around the country, and campaign groups including 9K4WHAT? are now to organising nationally.

If Semester 1 was a waking nightmare for Nancy Rothwell, Semester 2 will strike fear into the hearts of Vice-Chancellors all over Britain.

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