On Thursday around 80 protesters marched around the University of Nottingham's campus to demand freedom of expression and an end to the University's repression of student activists.
The campaign was started following the arrest of a student at a Palestine solidarity protest on the campus in November last year. In spite of the University's deployment of undercover spies and a police cameraman, the mood was good and protesters recieved a warm reception from other members of the student body.
Newswire: Protestors demand freedom of expression at University | Freedom of Speech demonstration at Nottingham Uni | Heavy Handed Police Condemned Over Peaceful Protest | Arrest at Nottingham Uni over Palestine Protest
The protest began at the Students Union (Portland Building) and marched to the Hallward Library (scene of the arrest last year) and Trent Building (where the University Administration is based) before returning to the Portland Building again.
A number of demonstrators, including the student arrested last year, made speeches condemning the University authorities and the Students Union for siding with the authorities against their members. The bulk of protesters were students but a number of members of staff were present, reflecting a widespread concern about the unviersity's actions amongst lecturers.
In addition to the arrest of a student at the Palestine solidarity protest, other examples of University repression of students were cited by the campaign. One student was banned from the University's library facilities during exams for initiating a campaign to reduce the cost of library cards (necessary not just or borrowing books, also for entry to the libraries). Other students involved in a petition against the increasing cost of accommodation in halls of residence, and decreasing provision of services, were fined £300 and had their petition disallowed.
The demonstration made a number of demands of the University:
- The right to free speech on campus and the official recognition of students' right to engage in protest, demonstration or campaign on University property.
- The right to engage in a peaceful protest without the fear or threat of having police called on campus to break up non-violent demonstrations.
- The right not to fear intimidation or arrest by University Authorities, University Security or the Police when engaging in a peaceful demonstration.
- The right not to be fined for or refused to have or distribute a petition or to have or hold a peaceful demonstration.
- The right to engage in the aforementioned activities without having to request prior permission.
Protesters vowed to continue their campaign until these objectives were achieved.