Link to a video of the police charge.
After Christmas, the University of Bologna decided to restrict access to the “Aula Zamboni” room, a library and study space belonging to the Humanities Faculty. They restricted access to only students enrolled in the University, who would now need a magnetic badge to enter the library.
In response, students launched a petition demanding the immediate re-opening of the space to any inhabitant of the city who desires to study or read. The petition was endorsed by more than 600 people in less than a week. After a week of silence and passivity from the Chancellor, the student movement, in an open assembly, decided to undertake direct action, removing the physical barriers that prevent “non-enrolled students” from passing. Against this, the Chancellor closed the space, forcing the students to occupy the library, freeing the space again. The occupation was an absolute success: the space was crowded and busy, and people were even seen studying in the corridors.
Without notice, the Chancellor called the police a few hours after the occupation started, who immediately charged the people inside, destroying tables, chairs and other studying material. To resist, the students started a demonstration around the University which was also violently dispersed by the police forces. Nevertheless, assemblies continue to take place, and the fight will continue.
We at Warwick For Free Education want to show our strong support and solidarity with Bologna students and the Italian student movement in their struggle against the enclosure of public and free spaces of study. Warwick’s own first occupation was in the library in 1969 in solidarity with students at the LSE who were fighting against the installation of metal gates around their campus. These gates were designed to increase management control over the LSE and create a more exclusive gate-kept community. Warwick stood against such moves then, and we stand against them today. It is sadly standard across the UK to refuse access to the public to university libraries, which are far better stocked and resourced than public libraries designed for entire cities. It is time the student movement started seriously putting the freeing of knowledge for the whole community back on the table, inspired by the example of the Italian students.
COPS OFF OUR CAMPUS! FUORI POLIZIA DALL’UNIVERISTÀ!