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University to sack only Ethnic Minority lecturer in Sociology (POLSIS)

Below is a letter addressed to Vice Chancellor David Eastwood from BEM students regarding the proposed redundancy of Dr. José Lingna Nafafé.

 

Dear Vice-Chancellor,

Following the recent news that the College of Social Sciences is proposing that Dr. José Lingna Nafafé be made redundant, as Black and Minority Ethnic students we are sending this open letter to express our concern and anger over this potential redundancy.

As BME students at the University of Birmingham, and active members of BME led and related associations, groups and campaigns, we would like to express our discontent over the lack of an equal and diverse environment. Collectively, we believe that many of the issues faced by BME students on an academic and social level are largely attributable to the lack of BME representation within various departments. Dr. José Lingna Nafafé has not only served as an inspirational lecturer and academic, but a source of empowerment in an institution which many of us have felt isolated, marginalised and rejected from.

There have been a number of reports which point to the lack of staff representation as having a largely negative effect on attainment and overall integration within HE institutions. José has helped numerous students feel valued and that their input is relevant because their position is equal to that of their White counterparts. Even for students who have not had the privilege of undertaking a module he leads, his physical presence and eagerness to interact with all students has proven that he is invaluable. Furthermore, his approachable character has allowed us to share our concerns and seek guidance from him when we could not find comfort from the other services available.

For many of us, particularly home students who know the city of Birmingham to be a diverse and multicultural space, the university served as a culture shock. If José was no longer a part of the university staff, this would further emphasise the University’s disinterest in equal opportunities and again, representation. This would also further hinder the University’s reputation regarding a diverse teaching staff (a recent mention includes the Guardian’s ‘14,000 British professors – but only 50 are black’ where it was stated that ‘Only the University of Birmingham has more than two black British professors’). It would be a catastrophic loss for BME freshers who are likely to face similar trials and feelings of isolation, or even overt forms of racism. Dr. Nafafé’s application of a zero tolerance policy has allowed his classrooms to feel like safe spaces in which to engage, and for some of us this was a rarity given that university staff had not taken action when students were confronted with varying forms of racism in the past.

If the University of Birmingham is committed to its students, then having Dr. Nafafé remain as a member of the teaching staff will truly emphasise this. His approaches to teaching, values and dedication to ALL students are no secret, and should be commended. Therefore, we collectively request that you recognise this and believe in the application of equal representation for BME students.

We individually believe that Dr. Nafafé has changed our lives and inspired an academic passion which would have otherwise resulted in either leaving the University or attaining lower class degrees.

Hear our Voice.

Yours Sincerely,

Sacha Hassan, Undergraduate, Ethnic Minorities Officer elect, and NUS Black Students’ Committee

Malia Bouattia, Postgraduate Former Guild Councillor, and NUS Black Students’ Committee

Bashir Osman, Undergraduate (Civil Engineering), President of UoB Islamic Society

Anisa Ather, Undergraduate (English Literature and Creative Writing), UoB Islamic Society Committee

Akil Henry, Undergraduate (Maths and Music), BEMA Vice Chair

Shaima Saif, Postgraduate (MA International relations: Political violence and terrorism), Guild Councillor

Azfar Shafi, Undergraduate (Psychology), BEMA Guild Councillor

Areeq Chowdhury, Undergraduate (Economics and Political Science), BEMA Chair

Mma Yeebo-Agoe, Undergraduate (Psychology), former BEMA Guild Councillor

Halima Sayed, Graduate (African Studies with Development), MA University of Warwick

Sundeep Kaur Johal, Graduate (Media, Culture and Society), MSc student University of Oxford

Bethany Jean Conroy, Graduate (Culture, Society and Communication)

Libby Roberts, Graduate (Media, Culture and Society)

Sophie Hickman, Graduate (Media, Culture and Society)

John Narayan, Graduate, PHD student University of Nottingham

Sarah, Undergraduate (West African Studies)

Runako Celina Bernard Stevenson, Undergraduate (Modern Languages)

Yoanna Okwesa, Graduate (Culture, Society and Communication), MA London College of Fashion

Dr Kehinde Andrews,

Nicole Samuda,, Postgraduate (PHD)

Kanja Sesay, NUS Black Students Officer

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Fearful university bosses losing control – Statement from University of Birmingham Defend Education.

University of Birmingham bosses have been responding to student/staff protests regarding the closure of the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity and to university support staff taking industrial action over pay cuts. Even by their normal standards the conduct of the management has been ludicrously heavy-handed and only solidifies their image of being out of control and out of touch.

Removing the student paper

On the first university open day on Sunday the 10th of June, the university prompted outrage by removing the student paper Redbrick from campus. Thousands of copies of the paper were binned by university staff because they carried a headline article reporting the news of large cuts to several departments which were being advertised to students on the open day. The departments being cut/facing closure are the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, the School of Education and Nursing and Physiotherapy. Student open day ambassadors are reporting they have been instructed not to speak of any cuts while giving tours of the departments to prospective students, who will arrive next term to find large numbers of their lecturers being made redundant in their first weeks of university.

Unison strike

Support staff at the University of Birmingham earn as little £13,000 a year full time before tax. This year they were offered just 1.2% per year when inflation last year was over 5%, a large real term pay cut. After this the university really twisted the knife by deciding that 16 years’ worth of double bank holiday was an “admin error” and they are abolishing it; effectively cutting pay for support staff by hundreds of pounds a year. In response hundreds of Unison staff have gone on strike and about a hundred Unison members picketed the university on the open days of June 21st and 22nd. Every open day visitor walking onto campus was given a leaflet naming and shaming the university for its treatment of its workers. The university responded harassing picketers with security, pressuring staff to work on the strike days and sending out all staff e-mails against unison.

University calls police on students for leafletting

In response to the censorship of the student paper, the VPE along with other students handed out copies of the censored front page, along with a pamphlet supporting the strikers.

The university called the campus police to stop the leafleting claiming the material was “libellous” and asked them to arrest the VPE, who then fled into the student union building before more campus police turned up and detained him and radioed their superiors saying they “want to know if we can arrest him,” although the answer was presumably “no” as they then let him go and left.

IAA petition

Academics in Royal Holloway in Surrey and Universities in London were reporting this Friday that they had been e-mailed by Mike Whitby the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. His e-mail was asking them to withdraw their name from the “Save the Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity” petition. It appears that the university desperately sensitive of its poor public relations is e-mailing every academic who signs the petition in a desperate attempt to put its spin on the closure of the department.

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Student Union officers remove Birmingham Post from Guild after publication of anti-union propaganda.

All copies the Birmingham post were removed this morning from the Guild of Students SPAR shop by several angry student union officials. The Paper was removed after it printed a shameless spin article against the strike action planned by the university Unison branch.

The Birmingham post which describes its political alignment as “free market” ran a story clearly attempting to downplay the university’s workers grievances. It ran a headline article under the banner “University of Birmingham admits wrongly paying support staff double time at bank holidays”, attempting to portray the planned strikes as against the university trying to fix a “admin error”, that has lead to workers being overpaid.

The post claimsIt was not known how much the error cost the Edgbaston-based institution or over what timeframe the enhanced payments had been made.” The interpretation of the contracts as giving staff double holiday pay have been in place for 16 years and the post was informed of this by officials however, they made the deliberate choice to selectively ignore this information. They have portrayed it as a sort term “error” rather than serious change in pay & conditions.

The article glosses over the facts. It claims that the university has offered support staff a 1.2% pay rise to most worth around £250 pounds. This is true they offered this deal in autumn and while it was not accepted it didn’t result in strike action and was seeming to be going ahead. What the article doesn’t mention is that months after the 1.2% deal was announced by the university, they decided to announce that the 16 years’ of double bank holiday pay had been “error” and would be removed,  completely wiping out the 1.2% pay increase previously given during the bargaining.

The article attempts to portray the 2000 strong Unison Branch as isolated and extreme at several points by claiming that “other groups of workers had accepted the deal.” By which we can only assume means the non-unionized temporary staff with no collective bargaining schemes in place and who don’t have the chance to reject the offer.

The University has betrayed its workers publically offering them 1.2% with one hand a then privately taking this away with another hand by removing long standing holiday pay. There is visceral anger from students, student staff and university workers. We won’t stand by and let the universities actions go without staunch protest and our union won’t play host to rightwing articles that run university PR spin on the strike, attempting to portray the widely supported union as isolated and over a “admin error”. We don’t consider this a issue of free speech, we simply won’t play host to bad journalism and attempts by bias journalists to defame Unison.

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Solidarity statement from Defend Education, University of Birmingham to staff and students at the University of Salford

University of Birmingham Defend Education would like to express its solidarity to the staff at the University of Salford, who have been informed that a further 218 jobs are set to be cut in an attempt to save £7 million. This is in addition to the loss of 150 jobs at the University in the past two years. Many of these job losses have been described by the University as “reorganisation of our professional services”, but the Salford Star maintains that staff will be forced to reapply for jobs and that the figure of 218 job losses remains accurate.

Unfortunately these job cuts represent yet another attack on the quality of public education at the point of delivery, the point where it matters; the lecturers that impart knowledge to students, at a time when funds are being diverted towards the beautification of campuses (the University of Salford is spending £50 million on its new MediaCityUK  Campus) and the increasing pay of University management teams across the country. As the government push an agenda of privatisation in areas such as education and the NHS, and attempts to marketise and commodify the public university system, it remains imperative that students and staff stand in solidarity nationwide, and the University of Birmingham Defend Education extends their support to the staff at Salford, and to any groups fighting for public education and the preservation of their jobs against the austerity measures of the coalition government.

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NUS conference report

By Simon Furse originally published here

OK I’m mid exams so this is going to be brief but I thought I’d report back on what happened at NUS conference. I’m going to be focusing on things that are controversial or represent a large deviation from previous NUS policy. The thing that really struck me at conference was the consensus about the severity of the government’s attacks on students and the need for a strong response. (find the full motions document here)

Further Education Policy

In 2010 FE students drove the vibrancy of the movement but this was actively opposed by the NUS leadership who encouraged them not to walkout or come on demonstrations. This year the following policy was passed (203 with amendments a and b)

Conference Resolves:

1. To call for the immediate re-instatement of EMA.

2. To call a national day of walk-outs over EMA in the first term of 2012-13 and do everything possible to help FE students to mobilise.

3. To publish the stories of those who have lost EMA and produce a popular booklet for FE students.

4. To launch a bold new FE campaign demanding:

– The abolition of all fees;

– No hidden course costs;

– A living grant/maintenance allowance for every full-time and appropriate financial support for part-time students;

– Defend and improve the pay and conditions of workers in FE;

– Stop the cuts to courses, departments and jobs: tax business and the rich to fund education.

Postgrad Policy

The NUS has long had a negligent attitude towards postgrads with little or inadequate policy. This year something approaching comprehensive policy on Postgrads was passed. I can’t post the motion in full because what was discussed is different to the motions document however the motion essentially said strongly that Postgrad study is a social good and should be available to all based on ability not who can pay. On PGRs the following was passed

1) To launch a campaign, alongside UCU, to defend PGR students and their working and learning conditions, 2) To launch a campaign encouraging all eligible postgraduates to join UCU

National Demo

NUS will be organising a national demonstration in the first term of 2012-13 against cuts, fees and privatisation.

HE Policy

Amendment 305a, that passed, is such a sea change in NUS policy that it deserves quoting in full Conference Believes

  1. The white paper is about making the fees regime work
  2. That we are opposed to all private providers in education
  3. That we should highlight the danger that Coalition will introduce their attacks bit by bit without one legislative big bang
  4. The focus on lobbying for amendments without providing any vision of how even these limited goals might be achieved is inadequate
  5. We have an opportunity for a mass campaign against the Government which can defeat the HE bill
  6. It should be the role of the elected leadership to find creative ways to unite and encourage broad opposition, not to demobilise it
  7. That the 2010 national demonstration sparked the biggest student protests in Britain for two decades
  8. That last November’s NCAFC organised national demo was a success, but could have been much bigger with NUS support
  9. That to defend public higher education NUS should stand with the campus trade unions, academics, administration staff and university sector

Conference Resolves

  1. To campaign against the government’s whole HE agenda, including all private providers, and for a public university system.
  2. To fully support UCU’s initiatives against the White Paper.
  3. To organise, as a matter of urgency, a publicity campaign on the implications of the White Paper.
  4. To call for Willetts’ resignation
  5. To demand
  •  No to the White Paper – for public universities
  •  Students and workers unite – defend courses, departments and jobs
  •  End student poverty
  •  Tax the rich to fund education
  •  To organise a year-long national campaign using mass-mobilising tactics

Defend the right to protest

First of all I want to say congratulations to our VP education, (as far as I know) the only person to be personally commended as a part of NUS policy (402b): “9. To congratulate Edd Bauer, Birmingham Guild of Students VP Education, for his reinstatement following suspension for being arrested at an NCAFC protest” The rest of the policy is a strong affirmation of the right to take direct action and be supported by your union.

Conference Resolves

  1. That NUS should campaign against any attempts to curb the rights to protest in the UK.
  2. To join the UCU in calling for a public inquiry into the arrests and violence used against demonstrators and to include in this an inquiry into the overcharging of protesters
  3. To launch a campaign highlighting the human stories behind police brutality and the importance of protest rights.
  4. To fully support imprisoned students including by supporting the DTRTP “twin with a prisoner” scheme and work with Student Unions, UCU and Universities to ensure those students are facilitated and supported to continue their studies during their sentence and following their release.
  5. To work with Student Unions to make sure students know their rights in advance of protests including aiding the distribution of DTRTP/NUS bust cards.
  6. To call for universities to be places of political asylum
  7. To campaign against the use of the courts to prevent protests on campus, as in Birmingham and Sheffield
  8. To campaign against the anti-trade union laws, which are a serious restriction on the right to organise and protest, and new attempts to restrict workers’ rights

Also have a look at motion 510 in the Welfare Zone some highlights are:

Conference Believes:

  1. That the right to peacefully protest is a human right.
  2. That the term ‘protest’ encompasses a myriad of activities and any attempt to give a definition to ‘protest’ is impossible.
  3. That any action by a University or Students’ Union to create a list of protocol to determine what protesting is allowed is therefore pointless. 

Elections

4 of the 6 candidates for NUS full time officer positions were incumbents and were re-elected. Union Development and Higher Education were the most contested positions. The new VP Union Development, Vicky Baars, is a free education activist and, as LGBT officer in NUS for the last two years, has consistently called for NUS to be more active to have stronger stances and to take stronger action. The new VP HE, Rachael Wenstone, was elected on a speech and manifesto strongly emphasizing the need for NUS to stand up for the public university and to try and give students more control over the governance of their universities, she also was calling for a national demo.

Conclusion

NUS conference as a representative of the national student movement, has I think come to terms with, and rejected, its absolute failure to inspire serious action in the autumn of 2010. Conference is now advocating strong stances, strong action and strong defence of students who take part in this and are victimised by the police or universities. The question that remains is if the leadership of NUS will live up to their strong mandates and this will require students, including ones from this university, to hold them to account.

Next year everyone at the Guild need to draw a line under the fractured weakness that has characterised the organisation over the last year. We all need to get behind the national Demo and have hundreds of Birmingham students out on the streets of London. We all need to think hard about our principles, how do we think universities should be run, and the tactics that can bring this vision about.  Conference this year has had a serious debate about what these should be and now needs to unify around what was decided.  I hope sincerely that similar debate and similar unity in action takes place on our campus.

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Statement on new disciplinaries

A full 70 days after the February the 15th Protest Against the Ban on Protests, the university has initiated disciplinary investigations into an unknown number of students in attendance at the demonstration. They have informed them that they “might have breached one or more university regulations” and have summoned the students to meetings to be asked questions.

The move has provoked further widespread condemnation of the University for insensitivity in starting such an investigation just as the exam period begins. The Chair of the Postgraduate and Mature Student Association even sent this outraged letter to the university stating he was also at the protest and demanded to also be investigated himself.

Defend Education think the move is a highly politicised abuse of university procedure to get at protestors. The universities own student misconduct policy states investigations should begin within 10 days of an alleged offense. The idea that the university can simply start an investigation at any time for any event should be rejected as it is extremely unfair on students.

A solidarity meeting has been called to organise a defence campaign to make sure no defendant feels isolated or undermined by the investigations into them. Please feel free to come along in support. Defend Education especially encourages all its supporters to attend this meeting.

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Solidarity with expelled UC Davis student

University of Birmingham Defend Education stand in solidarity with Tomas, the expelled UC Davis student protester, and all those who support him against the draconian measures imposed by UC Davis (University of California) in order to silence dissent.

The UC Davis and City of Davis Police arrested the undergraduate student in his dorm room in the early hours of 17th March for Felony Vandalism, relating to graffiti on campus. He was held incommunicado in jail during the final weeks of terms, unable to take his final exams and without the ability to contact legal representation. The university, which warranted his arrest, failed to notify any of his family, friends or department. He has now been expelled due to poor academic performance.

As a political activist, he had been involved with Occupy UC Davis and was arrested in the infamous incident of November 2011 where peaceful protesters were pepper-sprayed by police. The actions of UC Davis are clearly politically motivated and a means to suppress activism, intimidate those involved in it, and discourage the student body from standing up for Higher Education issues. This is part of a wider endemic panic surrounding student activism where peaceful protesters are treated as criminals, face inflated charges and are assumed guilty before ever reaching trial.

The situation of Tomas mirrors the circumstances faced by our own Vice-President Education earlier this academic year, when after being arrested and held in prison for 10 days following a peaceful protest, he returned to find that he had been suspended on grounds were inextricable from his arrest. He served a three month suspension despite being found not guilty a few months after his reinstatement. The University of Birmingham has also taken out an injunction criminalising occupation-style protests on campus which has been condemned by organisations such as Amnesty International and the Index on Censorship, and is pursuing disciplinary action against a student who was involved in a peaceful occupation of a unused university building.

It is sickening to see universities on both sides of the Atlantic behaving in such a draconian, unilateral and repressive manner. Universities are renowned for being places of learning, discussion and debate, where students are encouraged to develop as individuals and engaged members of society. The increasing use of underhand tactics to quash political dissent represent a firm departure from this proud tradition and a worrying trend in which freedom of political expression and the fundamentals of democracy are severely encroached upon.

The actions of Occupy UC Davis, and of students and activists in California in general have been a great inspiration to students in the U.K. The similarities of the protests against fee hikes and deep funding cuts are manyfold. It is inspiring to see that despite the intense persecution the movement faces it manages to achieve such meaningful successes as the recent forced closure of a bank on campus, the news of which made it all the way to England. The history of protest in the UC system is long and deeply entrenched in the core values of public education, the foundations of which will not be shaken through police or university repression.

We join the call for the UC Davis administration to readmit Tomas immediately to complete his studies free from harassment and we encourage other students from around the world to do the same.

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Statement on Trustee Board resolution to sack VPE

The following is a statement on behalf of University of Birmingham Defend Education in response to the recent Trustee Board decision to secretly take a Vote of No Confidence in VPE Edd Bauer:

Defend Education considers this move to be an entirely illegitimate action by the Trustee Board, one that fundamentally undermines the democratic nature of the Guild itself, making a mockery of what the Guild of Students, and indeed any democratic union, represents.

In short, we believe that when it comes to elected representatives such as Guild Officers, regardless of any allegations made against them, it’s plainly illegitimate to have the democratic will of students as to who they want to represent them, casually thrown aside by a small, unrepresentative group, especially in secret.

Aside from campus-wide referendums, given that Guild Council is the highest elected body representing students, who also has the power to take a Vote of No Confidence, it is therefore only democratically within their mandate alone to do so.

As such, Defend Education calls for:

1) Guild Councillors to uphold democracy as a core value of the Guild and call for the Trustee Board to drop the VNC, and rather for any concerns to be brought before Guild Council, either as questions, censures or even a democratic Vote of No Confidence.

2) A publicity drive – It is entirely undemocratic for the Trustee Board to attempt a Vote of No Confidence in an officer elected by students – it is for Guild Council to do this. Students need to be made aware of what has happened and how undemocratic this has been. Bauer represents us and should only be accountable to us.

3) Student Media Groups to support the core value of democracy within the Guild and recognise the severity of this situation. We call on them to publish this article and the analysis it contains, as well as a report on what has happened over the last month, condemning the undemocratic and illegitimate actions of the Trustee Board.

4) Reclaim the Guild to have a final push to get the signatures needed for an EGM.

5) Students to actively lobby the Trustee Board not to do this – email them and express your concerns. Point out that to do this is illegitimate and undermining student democracy. Email addresses attached below.

Finally, Defend Education believes that as the Trustee Board carrying through this Vote of No Confidence would be a completely unacceptable blow to their legitimacy and to any remaining optimism that students still run their own union, this action would have to be met with a much stronger response. This move directly contravenes everything the Guild of Students stands for, undermining the vital democratic processes our Guild is founded upon, and if it is not dropped, we will fight back.

Some further analysis

Defend Education considers this move to be an entirely illegitimate action by the Trustee Board which directly violates the democratic principles that any union ought to represent.

There are two key premises instrumental to our analysis of this move by the Trustee Board. Firstly, the acceptance that democracy should be striven for in every important decision made within the Guild and secondly that the Guild is a Students’ Union seeking to represent its members.

Democracy is the means by which decisions can be made that represent the majority of constituents and members, allowing for conflict, consensus and compromise in a cooperative environment. Defend Education supports democratic practice and wishes to see full implementation of democratic processes throughout the Guild. We have Guild Council as the highest elected student body to represent student views.

A union seeks above all else to represent its members, in this case where the University fails to do so. If the cause necessitates political action for the good of its members, then such action is justified by the mandates held by the Officers. Therefore the Guild must retain autonomy from the University and maintain itself as a strong and cohesive organisation, through which positive change can be achieved.

This move is indicative of Trustee Board dominance within the Guild and of their confidence in their autonomy from its democratic structures. The VPE uses the metaphor of a “two-headed beast”, which accurately describes what the University and Guild higher management have become. Rather than maintaining a strong Guild that works in unity to gain success, we have a Guild that is weakened by red tape, a lack of support for student action and direct political infighting. This means that the Guild fails its mandate to represent students in these tumultuous times and on such contentious issues – as well as falling far below decent democratic standards.

We note that the Trustee Board does hold the right to override the democratic processes of the Guild by virtue of its very nature; they will no doubt be desperate to remind everyone that they are a governing body whose concern is for the long-term stability of the Guild. This authority is given to them because the Guild is legally a charity which necessitates the existence of such a governing body. This is problematic insofar as the Guild exists primarily as a democratic student union, and this Guild-as-charity model in which the Trustee Board can override any democratic mechanism is somewhat incompatible with – and contradictory to – that purpose. As such, the exercise of the Trustee Board’s power to run the Guild undemocratically is surely only legitimised in emergency  situations where the long-term stability of the Guild is actually threatened. There is no possibility that the actions of the VP(E) actually threaten the long-term stability of the Guild – this is a simply ludicrous claim and is far removed from reality. The Trustee Board using this power to make undemocratic, highly political decisions in normal, non-critical situations is a really worrying situation, which shows the pressing urgency of reform. Ironically, the effects for Guild governance of this alien, undemocratic body overriding the student vote would be far more damaging in the long-term than anything Edd Bauer could possibly achieve; perhaps, as such, the Trustee Board should hold a Vote of No Confidence in itself?

The Guild of Students and students in higher education across Britain have a long history of successful protests amid great adversity, from the occupation of the Great Hall in 1968 to the student protests against the cuts in 2010. However, this year various groups and individuals have actively created a popular discourse criminalising and demonising protest action, from President Mark Harrop’s actions in response to the occupation of the North Gate building to the more general discourse within the Guild. We believe that because of this negative framework for protest that has been constructed by right-wing political actors, any protest action will necessarily be perceived as negative. These actors propagate the idea that the only way for the Guild to exist with the University is in a peaceful and subservient partnership, and thus any actions more direct than this will be construed as damaging to the Guild. However, the idea of a ‘partnership’ is not what was ever intended for the Guild. Yes, a working relationship must be maintained and cooperation is often necessary for progression to be achieved, but the Guild must ultimately retain its autonomy and be prepared to take strong, cohesive political action against the University when necessary and support its members in doing so. As the current social conception of what our Guild should be is a construction by right-wing political actors, it is unsurprising that Edd Bauer and other protesters are being found guilty before trial – however within the historical framework of student activism we can see the VPE in a far more positive light.

Finally, while they are separate from us, Defend Education believes that recent events and this move by the Trustee Board draw an even stronger line under the necessity of the ‘Reclaim the Guild’ campaign. We need a strong Guild that represents students, and in which student democracy cannot be undermined by a small committee with a non-student majority. The undemocratic dominance of the Trustee Board needs to be put to an end, and the very way in which we perceive our Guild must be changed. As such, it’s vital that the the General Meeting that the Reclaim the Guild petition calls for for a General Meeting in order that change might be truly realised.

Student Trustee Contact Details:

Mark Harrop (President) – president@guild.bham.ac.uk
Hugo Sumner (VPDR) – vpdr@guild.bham.ac.uk
Fliss Cross (VPAD) – vpad@guild.bham.ac.uk
Hannah Coakley – hxc938@bham.ac.uk
Will Hawkins – w.mieville-hawkins@guild.bham.ac.uk
Emily Halford – e.halford@guild.bham.ac.uk

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Freedom of infomation request, the cost of the protest ban

by Ben Aylott

In December the University of Birmingham decided it would be a good idea to take out a high court injunction banning “occupational” protests on its campus by “persons unknown” (broadly speaking…it was vague enough to include almost anyone). The measure was condemnded by Amnesty International, Liberty, and Index on Censorship who (variously) described it as “aggressive” and “censorious”.

It has formed part of an aggressive campaign to crush student and staff dissent against senior management, which has included the intimidation of pickets, politically motivated disciplinaries for students, and the arbitrary suspension of elected student officers from university committees and meetings.

I thought it may be a matter of public interest to find out the cost of obtaining this high court injunction. Propsective applicants to UoB, who are now going to be paying £9000, may be interested what their fees will be paying for. Or, say, if you were another University leader wanting to know how much it will cost to get your own high court injunction and implement the “Birmingham method” to clamp down on your own student and staff.

Following a FOI request UoBs legal services department have kindly provided me with a figure of £14,403.20+VAT or the cost of 1.88 students fees for a year at Birmingham (assuming VAT at 17.5%).

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What a bargain!

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