For immediate release 24/03/2014
Contact number: 07749263622 or 07821731481
Today staff and students are delivering a letter, signed by 225 members of academic staff at the University of Birmingham, to the Vice-Chancellor David Eastwood, condemning the suspension of Kelly Rogers and Simon Furse. The letter can be read here:.
The letter condemns Eastwood and the University of Birmingham for inhibiting freedom of speech and freedom of protest; a criticism that has been levied at the University a number of times in past, including by groups such as Amnesty International. It goes on to challenge the draconian disciplinary procedures which deny the two students any right to appeal. Kelly Rogers, 21, and Simon Furse, 22, are both final year students, and the staff have expressed their deep concern at the students’ suspension from studying and their ban from campus, at such a crucial time in their studies.
Kelly Rogers, one of the suspended students, says “these suspensions undoubtedly constitute an attack on our right to protest, and are an attempt to use Simon and myself as examples to intimidate other students from protesting in future. The suspension is having a severe impact on my life, studies and health – I have been banned from campus and have no idea when or whether I will be able to continue my studies, despite not having even been charged, let alone found guilty. It’s a disgrace, and utterly ludicrous”.
David Bailey, President of Birmingham UCU, says “Our members deplore these suspensions, which contravene the presumption of innocence and principles of natural justice, and call for them to be lifted immediately. Staff members are increasingly anxious about working at a University where dissent is so heavily repressed in this way, and we are equally worried about the impact this will have upon the education and wellbeing of the students affected.”
Thomas Wragg, Vice-President Democracy and Resources at the Guild of Students, says “Both the Guild of Students and UCU have taken the joint step of calling this demo because the university have crossed a line in punishing students without finding them guilty, giving them any due process or right of appeal. If these suspensions continue we will be looking to take further action.”
Kelly Rogers and Simon Furse have been suspended since January 30th, following a demonstration at the University of Birmingham on the 29th. Hundreds of students were kettled by police, and were only allowed to leave four hours later on the condition that they gave their full details to the police. 13 refused and were arrested, including 5 University of Birmingham students who were all suspended over the next two days.
While three of the suspended students have been reinstated, Kelly Rogers and Simon Furse remain suspended despite neither of them having been found guilty and no meaningful disciplinary investigation having been started in either of them, almost 8 weeks on.
A protest against the suspensions is planned to take place this Wednesday, 1pm, 26th March, organised by the Guild of Students and Birmingham UCU.