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Anger after University of London restricts student protests

1st August 2013
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University of London's (UoL) decision to ban student protests in parts of its campus has caused outrage amongst union staff and students.

In an effort to protect the wider student body, protests are no longer permitted in Senate House, the cloister entrance and the east and west car parks.

The new policy comes following an arrest of a protester and assault of student activists who were part of a demonstration which took place on 16th July.

The campaigners were highlighting their concerns over holiday pay, sick pay and pensions between direct and outsourced staff.

University staff asked police to intervene after they saw someone 'chalking' on the property.

A statement from the University said it will not tolerate any damage to its property and if necessary it is prepared to initiate civil proceedings for compensation and other redress.

The University’s chief operating officer Chris Cobb said: "If this policy is not followed then the university will consider protesters to be trespassing on university property and will take all the necessary legal measures to prevent and prosecute such trespass."

Protests are limited to public spaces near Malet Street and Russell Square in the hope of minimising congestion and help prevent the intimidation felt by library users and staff.

The University indicated that protests have previously affected individuals in and around Senate House.

However, Vice President of the University of London Union Daniel Cooper refuted the University’s claims: "Most people are very understanding of protests which last on average for an hour during lunch."

The policy drew criticism from president of the Union, Michael Chessum who called it an “outrageous and draconian response from University.”

An open statement - signed by Chessum, Cooper and Women’s Officer Susuana Antubam  - stated: “Rather than engaging with the campaign properly and answering its case in the spirit of critical thinking befitting an institution of learning, the University is relying on legal threats and the force of the state.”

It continues: “Will the institution really sink so low as to seek the prosecution of any more members of the University community? If it does, it will be to its eternal disgrace.”

Cooper said that the University has used these excuses before and they are using these health and safety measures to make a political statement.

The University of London Union will stage a protest at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court tomorrow from 8.45am.




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