At the end of last term, we issued University of Warwick management an ultimatum.
Following violent attacks by West Midlands Police against peaceful protesters on university property, captured on film and condemned by countless groups including Amnesty International, we looked to one another for the support and solidarity that the university refused to offer us. Gathering together, we staged a thousand-strong “Cops off Campus” demonstration, followed by a week-long occupation style protest, to remind our university that we would not accept any suffering or intimidation at the hands of oppressive and violent institutions. We would not be silenced as members of our community were assaulted, and we would not be relegated to the role of spectators to watch, displaced, as our concerns were casually denied.
Coming together in the space that we had claimed from our university, we issued a series of demands to the University of Warwick management and West Midlands Police.
We gave the University of Warwick management just over a month to engage in productive dialogue with us, and attempt to adequately satisfy our demands. Despite media backlash, solidarity campaigns nationwide, and challenge from amongst the staff and student bodies, the University of Warwick management failed on both of these counts. They continue their obstinate refusal to denounce the act of state violence that students were subjected to on their watch. By refusing to acknowledge even the possibility of its illegitimacy, they are refusing to recognise violence towards Warwick students as anything but acceptable. We will not accept this.
Not only did the University of Warwick management fail to meet the demands listed, but in using their vast resources to buy a silencing injunction that effectively outlaws any subsequent similar protests for an indefinite length of time, they have only intensified our concerns over the marginalisation of the students whose voices constitute its community. Their actions embody the discrimination and oppression levied towards any who would dissent from the interests of the corporate establishment, and set a worrying precedent for the future of free thought, free expression and free association at our university. Once again, we will not accept this.
We acknowledge that the University of Warwick’s Centre of Human Rights in Practice has announced intentions to organise an independent summit to ‘explore the future of peaceful protest at our University’ which we shall await with interest and optimism. However, this does not curb our anger at West Midlands Police nor the University of Warwick management, and does not, we feel, constitute an apology or an attempt at legitimately addressing our demands. Moreover, it does not mitigate the University of Warwick management’s attempts to vilify and coerce its students into accepting its false narrative through unsubstantiated allegation and juridical scare tactics.
Our campaign for education which is accessible to all and free from exploitation and greed shall therefore continue to develop and expand. We shall be organising further actions and events over the coming months in order to protest against the grave injustice that is being brought against students nationwide. We will be back on campus and back on the local streets. We will be flyering, chalking, marching, chanting and demonstrating. We will be uniting with other students and workers in the region to form a vast and powerful network of activists that will be a force to be reckoned with. This is a common struggle; a struggle against state oppression and the corporatisation of public services, and we will not rest until these matters are addressed.
We’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us so far, both from within and beyond our movement. Your solidarity has been truly indispensable and an inspiration to us all. The only way we can do justice to our gratitude is by continuing to be as fearless, committed and supportive as you have.
Love and solidarity.