Five students at the University of Sussex are suspended, while police violently break up an occupation of Senate House in London.
University management have singled out five students for their involvement in the anti-privatisation campaign, and a recent occupation in support of striking staff. The students have been suspended from their courses and excluded from campus. The reason given includes an alleged "threat to the safety and well-being of students". Sussex managers have repeatedly called in riot police to attack student protests on the campus. Under the University of Sussex regulations, the Vice Chancellor is granted arbitrary powers of suspension. Regulation 7(3)(e) states:
The Vice-Chancellor may refuse to admit any person as a student of the University without assigning any reason, and may suspend any person from any class or classes, and may exclude any person from any part of the University or its precincts.
The same power was used in 2010 to suspend the 'Sussex Six', who were reinstated following a week-long occupation in defiance of a High Court injunction. The University of Sussex Students Union and the anti-privatisation campaign were quick to condemn the suspensions. The campaign statement stressed:
The suspended students are being scapegoated as the “ringleaders” of the campaign against privatisation. This assertion is factually flawed in that the anti-privatisation movement is, and has always been, horizontally organised and involved no leadership. As such, there are no positions or hierarchies within the anti-privatisation campaign.
A petition to reinstate the five had exceeded 2,000 signatures within 12 hours. There will be a mass demonstration at 1pm Thursday in Library Square against the suspensions, and in solidarity with the occupations elsewhere which have come under attack.
University of London
Meanwhile in London, an occupation of Senate House, University of London, was broken up by the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Support Group after only a few hours. No injunction or eviction order was granted and no warning was given. Witnesses say police simply stormed into the building, alongside university security, attacking occupiers and bystanders alike.
There were at least three arrests made in the confusion.
Major police violence reported in Senate House foyer: kicking and beating students at random— David Graeber (@davidgraeber) December 4, 2013
Wow that was just incredibly violent— David Graeber (@davidgraeber) December 4, 2013
The police violence has been reported in the Guardian. The Senate House occupiers had issued ten demands, incorporating the three of the 3 Cosas Campaign, which has just won major concessions after a strong two-day strike by the IWGB union. The University of London Union, ULU, which is being shut down by university management, issued a statement on the police raid:
We are still investigating what happened inside, but initial reports indicate that protesters were assaulted by both police and security: thrown to the ground, kicked and punched, and dragged to the ground by their hair.
The raid is expected to swell the 'Cops off Campus' demonstration which had already been organised for 3pm Thursday in response to previous police aggression during the 3 cosas campaign.