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University of London bans student protests

Student demonstrators have been told they could face prosecution should they protest in certain areas of the campus

The University of London management has stated they are 'no longer willing to tolerate demonstrations' in certain areas of the university campus.

The decision drew strong condemnation from the president of the University of London Union, Michael Chessum.

Chessum called the decision an 'outrageous and draconian response from University management' in an open statement, released today.

In a letter sent to the ULU president last Friday, the university’s chief operating officer Chris Cobb gave a formal notification outlining the new limitations on student protests.

According to Cobb, protests should be limited to public spaces near Malet Street and Russell Square, and are no longer permitted in Senate House, the cloister entrance, and the east and west car parks.

He continued: "If this policy is not followed then the university will consider protesters to be trespassing on university property and will take all the necessary legal measures to prevent and prosecute such trespass."

ULU’s statement, also signed by Daniel Cooper, vice president and Susuana Antubam, women’s officer, responded to the new policy by stating: 'Rather than engaging with the campaign properly and answering its case in the spirit of critical thinking befitting an institution of learning, the university is relying on legal threats and the force of the state.'

A university spokesperson said: "The university is not preventing student protest, we are merely trying to ensure we protect the best interests of the wider student body, the researchers and other users of Senate House."

Daniel Cooper refuted the university’s claims that demonstrations were having a negative effect on students and visitors: "Most people are very understanding of protests which last on average for an hour during lunch."

The university has indicated that protests have previously affected individuals in and around Senate House. However, Cooper pointed out that Senate House was also the administrative centre that houses the vice-chancellor’s office.

He continued: "The university has used these excuses before and they are using these health and safety measures to make a political statement."

The new policy comes after a protester was arrested following a 'chalking' demonstration, seeking to raise awareness for a campaign run by staff and students to gain equal sick pay, holidays and pensions for outsourced cleaning and auxiliary staff at the University of London.

The University of London Union are staging a protest at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court tomorrow morning from 8.45am before the aforementioned protester's first court hearing.