Students at, the University of Birmingham along with the university of Birmingham guild of students have called a demonstration, on Wednesday February 15th 1pm to fight the controversial “ban” on protests. The injunction has been widely condemned as censorious and regressive by groups including amnesty international.
It is clear that it will take more than strong words to make the university remove the Injunction. So now student groups including the national campaign against fees and cuts, the education activist network and the student broad left are uniting and calling for students across the country to mobilise for a massive demonstration on the University of Birmingham campus on February 15th.
Fighting the injunction is far more than just protecting our “rights”, we are also fighting for the conception of the “university”. Traditionally the university as public institutions are more than just education “machines”, they are bastions of free debate and the homes of radical new ideas. Increasing corporatized universities couldn’t give a damn about free speech. Fighting for free speech to be restored on campus is a fight to protect one of the key tenets of what makes a “university” a “university”.
Further to this is not just about the injunction. One of our own Simon Furse, is facing expulsion for taking part in an occupation. He will be having his disciplinary hearing at the same time as the demonstration. He is the only student in the country to face a disciplinary for taking part in the wave of occupations last term. So now that same wave of occupations is coming to call on the University of Birmingham.
The student body has faced challenges like this before and we should take heart that we have overcome these challenges before. We should take inspiration from militant and effective campaigns like the free speech movement of 1964. Which successfully protected it’s members from attack from university authorities. One of the movements most inspirational stories is that of Jack Weinberg who in situation familiar to us today was arrested for refusing to show his student ID. In response students to surrounded the police car that he had been put in, the car couldn’t move and after 32 hours of being trapped in a ever larger crowd he was let go.
The Demo is backed by Student Broad left, Defend the right to protest, National campaign against fees and cuts and the Education activist network. Whatever differences of our oft dysfunctional, sometime self-destructive student “left” may have, it is nice to know that we also know exactly when it is time to unite and fight. Apparently some say we are divided, and perhaps the #ncafc tag on twitter is some evidence for this. However, this so called divided “left” including the UK’s best occupiers are heading down to the University of Birmingham for the 15th of February, for a protest that may become something more.
Accommodation is available in Birmingham for anyone coming down to the demo, in case you need to stay overnight, so make sure you bring a sleeping bag with you!