On November 23rd, Defend Education Birmingham released a statement saying that Birmingham University have started the process of applying for a 12-month injunction banning occupations on campus. Furthermore, the university management is targeting two individual students, threatening them with the legal costs of this injunction, which may exceed £10,000.
This is the latest in a recent string of attacks on students fighting for democratic control of their institutions and for better conditions of University workers. It comes on the back of the violent arrest of a student for chalking, the deployment of police armed with tasers on a London campus, the violent eviction of the Sussex occupation in April and the pre-emptive detainment and body searching of students in Edinburgh prior to Princess Anne’s visit to their campus. At an alarming rate, university managements and security services are increasing their co-operation with the police in efforts to repress any student action capable of disrupting the business agenda of universities. This environment is incompatible with independent thought – that which is supposedly valued above all else in education. It is a threat to all students, university workers and by extension to a society that ought to benefit from institutions of learning.
In response to this, the Autonomous Student Network (ASN) is issuing a warning to Birmingham University: If you proceed with this injunction and the victimisation of the two individual students, the ASN will mobilise a national demonstration on the Birmingham campus. We call on the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, the Revolutionary Socialist/ISN group, the Student Assembly Against Austerity and all other groups and individuals who value democratic education to sign up to this warning and to commit to mobilising the demonstration if Birmingham University does not back down in its attacks.
When Occupy Sussex called a national demonstration in March, up to 3000 students from across the UK descended on their campus. This was done without the help of the NUS. Anyone who remembers the demonstration will recall the level of militancy and the threat that this posed to Sussex University’s management. If the NUS were a real union controlled by students and run in the interests of students, then this is exactly the type of response to University attacks that we would expect. With the absence of any meaningful NUS activity, we must take matters into our own hands and co-ordinate our defence ourselves. The only way to ensure our security as students is to make repression costly for our oppressors. Its time to back up our words with action.
Solidarity with the Birmingham Occupation.
-The Autonomous Student Network