Wave of repression against students

Police outside Senate House, the inspiration for Orwell's Ministry of Truth

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.

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.

Posted By

Dec 5 2013 07:30


  • Wow that was just incredibly violent.

    David Graeber

Attached files


Joseph Kay
Dec 5 2013 09:03

I understand the Sheffield occupation was also injuncted on strike day, with terms banning protest anywhere on campus.

I can't help noticing this escalating intolerance for long-established forms of dissent corresponds to students linking up with workers (the Pop-Up and strike-day blockades at Sussex, 3 Cosas at UoL). Remembering back to the Nov 9 2011 student demo, when 'total policing' (overwhelming numbers and a 'wanderkessel') were used to prevent students joining up with Sparks, and this seems to be something bosses and the cops don't want to happen.

Joseph Kay
Dec 5 2013 09:17
SQ wrote:
The email also claims that the suspension is related to “criminal charges…pending or where the student is the subject of police investigation”.


Which means either the university has knowledge of ongoing police investigations prior to any arrests being made, an unnerving level of collaboration, or they're lying, again.

Joseph Kay
Dec 5 2013 12:27

Slight correction on the (Sussex) university regulations from someone on Facebook:

I thought I might briefly clarify the background of the university regulation in question. While 7.3 (e) provides in pertinent part that

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 arbitrariness extends to admissions, NOT to suspensions. The actual *power* is enumerated in a section of Annex 1 titled as such.
Here's the bit from Annex 1:

The Vice-Chancellor may suspend and/or exclude a student *who is the subject of a criminal or disciplinary investigation arising from an allegation that he or she has
committed a serious offence.* Serious offences include, but are not limited to:

3.1 where criminal charges are pending or where the student is the subject of a
police investigation;
3.2 where the student represents a threat to the safety or well being of students,
staff or visitors to the University;
3.3 where the student represents a potential hazard to sustaining the University‟s
policies on Health and Safety;
3.4 where the student is liable to bring the University into disrepute.

The logic applied here seems to be utterly circular: the 'disciplinary investigation' seems to simply be the vice chancellor's desire to suspend some students and strike fear into our hearts. My understanding is that 3.3 was mentioned, but it's not clear which part of the health and safety guidelines are being violated.

Dec 5 2013 18:25

Last night, Senate House. [TW : police violence]

Dec 5 2013 19:01

In Liverpool, uni management have fenced off the occupation with scaffolding:

Dec 5 2013 21:17

Uni of Liverpool occupiers decided that it wasn't tenable to continue while kettled in, especially as management were trying to lock them in one lecture theatre with no access to toilets or running water. Management have been pretty heavy handed, though no direct intervention from cops as far as I'm aware.

This is the first time there's been anything resembling a successful occupation at any Liverpool university in years, so hopefully something we can build on. The fight against outsourcing and zero hour contracts at UoL is looking interesting too, it's early days yet, but there's a real will to fight and organise amongst a lot of the staff.


Dec 7 2013 12:14