National outcry as Sussex indefinitely suspends five students for peaceful protest

 

Activists across the country have reacted with horror after five student protesters were indefinitely banned from completing their studies, for their involvement in a demonstration at Sussex University.

The five were suspended on the grounds that they had breached the university’s health and safety policy, in a move labelled by one of them as “an attack on the right to protest and freedom of speech”.

Support is growing; last night, John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington, promised to table an Early Day Motion in Parliament, while a petition demanding the suspension be retracted had attracted 4,291 signatures in under 24 hours.

The five students had all taken part in an occupation at Sussex, which began last week, in protest at what they described as "the marketisation of higher education", and the university's plans to outsource vital campus services. All occupiers voluntarily left the occupied buildings on Tuesday after the university sought an injunction against them, but learned of their suspensions in a letter from Sussex vice-chancellor Michael Farthing which they received yesterday.

The letter said they had represented “a threat to the safety or well being of students, staff or visitors”, and “a potential hazard to sustaining the university’s policies on health and safety”.

The five students, a mixture of undergraduates and postgraduates, have now been suspended from participating in academic activities at Sussex, and excluded from the university’s campus with immediate effect. The duration of their suspension is unknown, and is related to internal disciplinary processes. They have the right to appeal.

"It’s outrageous that students exercising their traditional democratic right to protest have been persecuted in this way," said John McDonnell MP, this morning.

Speaking on Facebook, the activist and Independent columnist Owen Jones described this as “an attempt not just to intimidate those students, but peaceful protesters generally”.

In a statement, Michael Segalov, one of the suspended students said: “this is an attack on the right to protest and freedom of speech. As a student at the University of Sussex, I am engaged in my studies and part of the campus community, as are the four other students who have been suspended. As it stands I have been suspended and excluded from campus.  There has been no disciplinary hearing and no disclosure of any evidence of wrongdoing. Management at the university have continually exclaimed their support for protest on campus, but now their true agenda is showing.”

John Duffy, the registrar at Sussex, said: “We fully support students’ rights to protest lawfully. 

“But in the circumstances of this persistent disruption, we feel we need to go further to ensure there is no repeat of the appalling behaviour that has characterised these events.

"We have excluded these students to protect the interests of all of the students, staff and visitors who are entitled to use the campus without fear of intimidation and serious disruption.

“[The suspended students] will have their opportunity to defend their actions in due course.  We believe we had no other choice but to act to make it clear that activities that seriously disrupt our campus community will carry consequences.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor