University of Nottingham (UoN) students protested at University Park Campus on Wednesday 11th December as part of a National Day of Action to end police violence and intimidation of peaceful student protesters.
The National Day of Action was in response to the police “brutality” carried out against students in London on 5th December 2013. Many of those who demonstrated in Bloomsbury to demand fair wages for workers at the University of London were subjected to beatings by the police.
Over 40 students were also arrested. A High Court order then banned any further protests in London universities.
At the University of Sheffield and the University of Birmingham, university management have also attempted to ban protest action.
At the University of Sussex, five students were suspended from their studies; they were reinstated following protests by students, MPs and unions.
The UoN “Cops off Campus” campaign was held in the Trent Building courtyard from 2pm. A group of about 40 students and local support groups, including the Nottingham Secular Society and Left Unity Nottingham, joined UoN students in the courtyard.
One of the organisers, Duncan Davis, stated that the demonstration was important because “the right to peaceful protest is a fundamental human right.” The protestors handed out leaflets about the cause, chanted “Cops off Campus” and several people gave speeches.
Security presence was heavy around the Trent Building, with access to the Vice Chancellor’s office blocked off to students.
UoN students interviewed at the protest said that they felt did not have enough support” from UoN Students’ Union (SU) in order to take more drastic action.
One student, who wished to remain anonymous, commented that the student representatives of the SU are “reluctant to make political changes for students due to individual concerns” and suggested that the SU, like the University might be “turning into a business.”
The National Union of Students (NUS) encouraged UK students across the country to show solidarity with the “Cops of Campus” demonstration.
But, one of the speakers at the UoN protest, Declan, expressed his disillusionment with the NUS, stating that they “have not been nearly supportive enough.”
Other speakers expressed their disgust at the use of police brutality to silence protestors: “Why on earth are the people who are supposed to protect us suppressing us with violence?” was one comment that was made.
Sociology undergraduate, Tom Harrington, who partook in today’s protest, commented: “Where once the student protest was accepted and almost embraced by universities, as of late it has been seen as more of a threat to their authority.
By calling in the police to forcibly remove the protestors, university management are treating students’ views as a problem to be dealt with rather than as valid concerns to be listened to.”