Monday, 21 February 2011

University of Birmingham drops all cases against students, after widespread criticism.

Special thanks to everyone who supported us

The University of Birmingham has backed down from an increasingly embarrassing attempt to discipline 15 students.

The Vice Chancellor David Eastwood received criticism from religious leaders, MP’s, unions and prominent academics including Professor Noam Chomsky and John McDonnell MP.

The University’s case was weakened by their attempt to press charges against two students who were not in any way involved in the occupation. One student was implicated because he was seen outside the building that he works in 'talking to a student', but that student was not part of the occupation. He was not told why this highly circumstantial (if not irrelevant) information was sufficient basis to accuse him of physically and racially assaulting other members of the University of Birmingham.

However, the only reason that he might have been accused in the first place is because in emails on university lists he had publically supported  staff unions at the University in recent pay disputes, and is a student member of two unions on campus. This raises extremely grave concerns about the University’s use of spurious evidence to make accusations against individuals without any substantial reasons, bringing into doubt the motivations of the University and its witnesses in the accusations that it has made.

The proceedings have caused a significant amount of distress for the students undergoing disciplinary action. During the proceedings the University refused to follow its own procedures that state that students should be informed immediately after their hearing whether or not there is sufficient evidence for disciplinary action. Instead, in each case the University chose to prolong the proceedings, creating an extremely distressing and stressful situation for students who had to wait weeks to find out if they could continue with their studies.

Students wanting to defend those charged by coming forward as witnesses and giving their versions of events to the University were then summoned for discipline themselves. These students would appear to have implicated themselves in the occupation solely by acting as witnesses. This clearly has an extremely intimidating effect upon any further potential witnesses who may want to come forward in defence of the students.

Given the weakness of the case and the arbitrary and intimidating approach taken, we believe that the process was simply an attempt to discourage student dissent and attack freedom of speech and association on campus.

Students at the University of Birmingham are not discouraged and are now building a new campaign to support staff members and UCU, fighting for fair pay, protecting pensions and fair wages.  University managers have recently given themselves a 10.5-11% pay rise, while offering staff a 0.4% pay increase, which with inflation at 5% is cut for low earners and rise for staff already earning between £100,000 and £400,000 per annum.


Sat 19th Feb - Local stalls around Birmingham - Birmingham Against the Cuts www.birminghamagainstthecuts.wordpress.com

UKUncut Bail in Action - 11am, Snow Hill Train Station http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179098092133767

Save Birmingham Youth Services - 3pm, Waterstones - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112602122147152

Wed 23rd - Education Activist Network half term demo - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=197354743610341

Thurs 24th - DayX4 - BCU have a demo on campus - 12:30pm – BCU protest against cuts of 78% at the uni will take place at Kenrick library at city north campus.

There is also a demonstration in London at the UK Universities conference http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179166512120415

Saturday 26th Feb - Birmingham Against the Cuts & Unison demo against council cuts - http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=179540445420883

There's also plots being hatched to run a UKUncut action in solidarity with the demonstration, and the first USUncut actions happening on the same day

Tuesday 1st March - Unison demo outside the council house from 2pm, whilst the budget gets voted on

and Planning meeting for SFCB on Tuesday 22nd, 5pm, guild of students

2 comments:

  1. Congratulations to everyone who has had their disciplinaries ended, it was a disgraceful way for the university to deal with the peaceful occupation.

    There will definitely be a UKUncut action the 26th now:

    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=112467528829361

    http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions/346

    Solidarity

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