The higher education activist group Defend Education Birmingham have launched a petition demanding that the University of Birmingham lift the year-long suspensions of Kelly Rodgers and Simon Furse and the six month suspended sentence handed out to the former Birmingham Guild of Students Vice President of Education, Hattie Craig. The students were charged for their involvement in an occupation at the University last November.
The petition already has over 350 signatures and once again shines an unwanted spotlight on the University of Birmingham, which has over the last year faced stringent criticism for its attitude towards protest and its treatment of student protestors. Following the arrest of 13 and the suspension of 5 students last January a number of respected academics, activists and artists signed an open letter in which they described the University’s treatment of its students as “at odds with free speech”.
The University of Birmingham further compounded its autocratic reputation on July 30 when it violently evicted a student occupation held in support of the suspended students. According to Defend Education Birmingham, over 25 bailiffs and as many police were called in to break up the occupation and acted with “no regard for the safety of any occupiers involved”.
In a rare act of support for student protestors the National Union of Students has voted to support the campaign to overturn the suspensions and pledged to use money from its legal fund to contribute towards their court costs.
Click here to sign the petition.
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