Cambridge student banned until 2014 for poetic protest
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A Cambridge University student was suspended yesterday until 2014 for his role in a protest speech against Higher Education Minister, David Willetts. The English literature PHD student was suspended for reading out a poem that disrupted the minister’s speech in November last year. Owen Holland recited a speech containing the lines: "You are a man who believes in the market and in the power of competition to drive up quality. But look to the world around you: your gods have failed." Willetts was forced to abandon his speech on ‘the idea of university’ when fellow students started to recite Holland’s words repeatedly. Holland has 28 days to appeal his suspension and it is understood that he planning to do so. Many students who were involved in the protest feel that Holland’s punishment is too harsh. They had expected him to get fined, not suspended. Liam McNulty, a member of CDE and a student who was involved in the protest, said: “This sentence is unprecedented and grossly disproportionate.” "The University has made a mockery of any notion that it exists to protect the freedom of expression. It has disgraced itself in the eyes of all reasonable people." To show Holland their support, more than 60 students have written ‘Spartacus’ letters, admitting their involvements in the protest, asking to be charged for the same offense. Two petitions have been created, one by CUSU titled 'This is not justice', and another by supporters of the student. The latter currently holds 1,019 signatures. A Cambridge University spokesman released this statement: "The University notes the decision of the court of discipline in its proceedings. By statute, the court of discipline is an independent body, which is empowered to adjudicate when a student is charged with an offence against the discipline of the university by the university advocate. The court may impose a range of sentences as defined by the statute." Check out the protest video below and let TNS know what you think, is the punishment too harsh?