Students and dons unite over Willetts protest

Connie Fisher - Deputy News Editor 8 March 2012

A letter signed by over 50 students and academics has been sent to the University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz and the University Advocate Dr Rosy Thornton, claiming their own involvement in the protests that took place at Lady Mitchell Hall last November.

The Advocate conducts prosecutions before the University Courts for breaches of discipline by members of the University.

40 students and 16 dons have put their names to the letter which shows support for an unnamed student who has been charged with “recklessly or intentionally impeding free speech within the Precincts of the University” during the protest action which took place when David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, was due to speak. The contributors claim they are equally to blame and request to be “charged” alongside the student.

The letter states: “We regard the prosecution of a single junior member of the University as arbitrary and wrong: we wish to point out that this was a collective act and that we the undersigned were all involved in it – whether directly or indirectly, actively or in a supportive capacity. We therefore ask that the same charge be brought against each of us before the appropriate University court.”

One of the academics who signed the letter, senior English lecturer Dr Jason Scott-Warren, said: “It is completely unacceptable that the authorities should be prosecuting a single student for a collective protest in which many members of the University were involved. This letter challenges the University to demonstrate that its disciplinary procedures are equitable and transparent.”

Connie Fisher – Deputy News Editor