A Cambridge student and former Pluto staff member has been given a draconian and unprecedented two-and-a-half year suspension from his PhD, for taking part in a peaceful protest before a speech by Universities minister David Willetts. Before the speech by Willetts, the student led other students in reading out a poem against the government’s university reforms.
The suspension given out by the university Court of Discipline was far higher even than that demanded by the prosecuting university advocate, who was pressing for a single-term suspension.
More than 60 Cambridge Fellows and students have now written to the university admitting their role in the protest and demanding to be charged with the same offence.
Cambridge University Student Union President Gerard Tully said:
We are dismayed by the University Court’s bizarre decision to hand down to a single student a punishment seven times stronger than what the University’s own prosecutors had asked for; suspending him until Michaelmas 2014. As the ‘Spartacus letter’ indicates, many students and fellows took part in the action that the student is being singled out for. This is in no sense a fair application of justice, and students and academics expect better from Cambridge.
A balanced judgement reflecting the evidence and severity of the charges would not have handed down seven times what the University itself asked for. Should an appeal be lodged, we fully expect the University to apply reason and quash this heavy-handed and unfair sentence. For a University that so rightly prides itself on academic freedom and the justness of its procedures, there is simply no alternative.
Sign and share the Ipetition in defence of the student and the right to protest on campus.
Visit Defend the Right to Protest for updates and further action.
A Manifesto for Resistance
Edited by Michael Bailey and Des Freedman
Sharp essays take on the government’s agenda of university cuts and fee increases, and outline an alternative manifesto for higher education.
“The corporatising of universal education is one of the most insidious and dangerous attacks on the very notion of human rights. This book calls us to arms. Every student, every educator who cares should read it.” – John Pilger
“This is an essential book. The future of our universities is up for grabs and the manifesto will play a huge role in providing alternatives at a time when the government says there aren’t any.” – Clare Solomon, President of the University of London Union (ULU) 2010-11 and editor of Springtime (2011)