Press Release - Students at Birmingham University occupy in defiance of Injunction.

NEW Press Release 16.00 25-11-2013

Students at Birmingham University occupy in defiance of Injunction.

Update The protesters have now released as statement explaining why the have remained in occupation. This can be found here.

UPDATE 7.30 pm: A number of students have decided to stay overnight in the injunction in defiance of the injunction. Stuart Richards, the director of Housing and Accommodation Services and a senior member of university security, are on film saying that balliffs and police will not be called tonight.

UPDATE 6.00 pm: It has been made clear that all students inside the occupation from 5pm, including those who entered today, are in breach of the injunction. Despite this, a large number of the students inside have voted to remain beyond the time the injunction becomes valid. Now coming up to 6 o’clock the occupiers are in high spirits, and are discussing their legal obligations and rights as they celebrate resisting an unjust, aggressive injunction, defying an unrepresentative university management and support the campaign spearheaded by the occupation.

4.00 pm: Students at the University of Birmingham have been in occupation of a part of their university’s management buildings since Wednesday evening demanding that “staff and students should have more power in every level of university decision making”. The protesters also had a number of demands such as the living wage for all staff on campus, for halls prices to be reduced, and for the university to reverse their position in favour of higher fees (1).

At 2pm today the University of Birmingham took out an injunction against two students- Hattie Craig, and Simon Furse- as well as other ‘person’s unknown’, who were in an occupation. The injunction bans ‘occupational style protest’ for a year. The university initially applied to recover its costs from the two students up to a maximum of £25,000 each, but this was later dropped in court.

The university tried to prevent the protest getting into into the Aston Webb building where the occupation was being held, by stopping all students from going into the building all day. However part of the protest managed to enter through a back door, and join the occupation in the senate chamber. Over a hundred students held a meeting in the senate chamber with the barricades still up, discussing where to go next with the campaign. Many of the students decided to stay in the occupation past the deadline of 5pm, in defiance of the injunction, and in order to put more pressure on the university to accept their demands.

Hattie Craig, the Vice President of Education at the Guild of Students, and one of the named defendants on the injunction, has said: “Universities should be centres of learning where management take dissent seriously and negotiate with their students. This process has shown how unfit David Eastwood and the rest of senior management are to be running a university. Despite the fact a very similar injunction was condemned by amnesty international and liberty two years ago, they have used the same tactic this time. Universities should be democratic and could be run far better by staff and students themselves.”

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  1. [...] of events.   Furthermore, another intimidation tactic used by the university management was to name specific protesters on an injunction that mean they were liable for damages of up to £25,000, a method used to suppress dissent by [...]