Student whose foot was “run over by a car” during peaceful protests against ‘UWE arms fair’ describes lack of support from UWESU and UWE

Featured image from southerngeekgirl blog.

Almost a year has passed since the repression of peaceful student protests against DPRTE aka the ‘UWE arms fair’ on campus on 20 November 2013, and the launch of the campaign for an independent review into those events.

We’ve sent an open letter to UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and to the Board of Governors and both have ignored us. The university’s spokesperson even claimed that UWE had no information about student concerns after we sent the open letter to the VC, and that he received no information about it from UWE Students’ Union (UWESU) even though the five elected student presidents did receive a comprehensive account of those events from participants on 21 November 2013.
We have asked our student newspaper to relay our story and arguments but the Western Eye — UWE’s self-proclaimed “totally independent student newspaper” — have dismissed our campaign even though we have had local, national and international media coverage. Like the student newspaper, our Students’ Union has silenced us, making it  very hard for us to reach the wider student body. On a more positive note, we have recently learnt that the local branch of the University and College Union (UWE UCU) wrote to UWE to inform them that they are now supporting our campaign and that  they too are demanding an independent review. However, UWE has also been ignoring them so far.
As a further step in this campaign, one UWE student who participated to those protests agreed to anonymously share the witness statement s/he wrote.
When arriving at the arms fair, early at around there was already somebody trouble occurring with the peaceful protesters and the police, causing one person to be arrested. This however did not stop the peaceful protesting and things did not become tense because of this. Many issues arose that day, one of the biggest ones for me being the lack of help and protection from the UWESU.
I was unlucky enough to get my foot run over by a car, with the UWE security turning a blind eye to this. Me and a few others were peacefully holding a banner from one side of the gate to another, when the man in the car become inpatient and frustrated. This then led the man in the car to attempt to drive very very close to me, which I then quickly realised was becoming unsafe for me as he showed no sign of stopping. I then tried to move out of the way when his car was almost touching me, but I could not move my foot in time which then led it to be ran over. I then approached the mans car, asking him why he didn’t stop. He stated that ‘he was in a rush’ and ‘I was going to damage his car’. I am in no way someone who would damage someones car and I certainly wasn’t giving off the signals that day that it was my intention.
Following this matter, the police took my details and asked what happened. I was very upset and concerned that even though the event took place right in front of the UWE security desk at the north entrance, not one member of staff from UWE or UWESU approached me or showed any concern for my wellbeing.

UWE UCU’s letter in support of independent review of ‘UWE arms fair’ protest repression

Almost a year has passed since DPRTE 2013 last November and the repression of peaceful student protests against the ‘UWE arms fair’ on campus. Even though UWE told us the governors were all sent our open letter arguing for an independent review of those events, the board of governors didn’t get back to us following their last meeting on 15 July and their draft minutes suggest that either our demand was not discussed, or it was discussed confidentially. This morning, we also got the confirmation that UWE UCU sent a letter of support (pasted below), and that they haven’t heard back either. To be continued …

———————-

Sent to: Steve West (UWE VC) and Board of Governors

14 July 2014

For whom it may concern

As Chair of the Uwe Branch of the UCU, I write on behalf of our members to support any request that may have been made for a detailed inquiry into the events surrounding the Arms Fair that occurred on the 20th November 2013. The students involved will have provided a detailed account of the events of that day and of the matters about which they are most concerned. Whilst we had no direct involvement with those events as a Branch, we have student members of our Union who were witness to some of the events on that day and as academic members of staff at the University we are left rather non-plussed and concerned by those accounts. Whilst we are of course aware that there will be many different and undoubtedly competing versions of the events of that day it does seem to us that a clear and balanced clarification of what happened which allows all sides to share their stories would help to resolve this issue in a way that would reassure staff as to how security is operated on the campus and that freedom to campaign on issues of concern is maintained and enshrined as a right for all.

We believe that an inquiry, ideally with some independence from the University, is the best way to ensure these important outcomes for the future wellbeing of staff colleagues and students.

Yours sincerely,

Robert PARDOE

Senior Lecturer: Dept of Nursing and Midwifery

Chair: UWE Branch of the UCU

#reviewUWE and #disarmUWE campaign updates

Hi everyone,

On Monday, we bombarded the office of UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and Governors with paper airplanes demanding them to #reviewUWEfollowing the repression as well as issues with health and safety, duty of care and democratic rights, during the ‘impeccable’ protests against the arms fair that took place on campus last November.

That action built the #reviewUWE campaign, not least by triggering the release of our open letter to UWE’s Governors and getting several media interested in our campaign, especially BCFm and Ujima, two influential local radios. Moreover, as part of the Global Day of Action against Military Spending (#GDAMS), the action also highlighted for the first time that our university is stuck between the Ministry of Defence and military industries including several arms dealers.

At the 17 April meeting, we discussed ideas for an anti-arms student campaign, and how to engage students next year (more info to be posted about this soon). In the meantime, at university-level, we still have some follow-up work to complete to address the repression of our protests last November, especially to push for an independent review, and to build legal cases that could set important precedents, for example to keep #copsoffcampus.

There are now two requests that need your urgent attention:

  • On Wednesday (23 April) 13:00-13:30, we need at least one more person, preferably a woman and a UWE student, to speak about our campaign on Ujima Radio (Cheryl Morgan’s show). Please email uwe.better.together@gmail.com if you’re able/interested.
  • On Thursday (24 April), the legal team will meet with our solicitors to share information we have collected so far. If you were present at the protests on 20 November 2013, please send your witness statements by Wednesday 5pm at the latest to support the legal frontline of this campaign, and in solidarity with students building cases.

If you want to help but have no more than one or two minutes:

  • Share this update with other people who have been involved with these campaigns, or may be interested (we still don’t have everyone’s emails).
  • Sign the petition to #reviewUWE, share and promote it on facebook, twitter, etc. We already have about 90 signatures and we need 150 student signatures to call a UWESU referendum which would at least force UWESU to provide minimal information about this campaign to the student body.

If you have more time and interest to contribute, please get in touch (uwe.better.together@gmail.com) or take a task or a role. Lots of important and exciting things are coming up, and lecturers will probably need our solidarity if the marking ban goes through. Moreover, some of us will launch ‘better together’ as an alternative UWE-based newspaper. If you want to see change really happening at UWE, now is the time ;)

Thank you!

UWE confirms Governors received letter demanding independent review into repression of peaceful protests against ‘arms fair’

Following the day of action on 14 April 2014 at UWE Bristol, the Deputy Clerk to UWE’s Board of Governors sent us the following message:

Governors of the University do not normally respond to anonymous communications although in this instance it has been agreed that it is appropriate to acknowledge receipt and to confirm your email (as titled above) has been provided in full to the members of the Board of Governors. I should also note that Governors’ awareness of the event is a matter of public record as it was discussed on 26 November 2013. The minutes of that meeting can be found here: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/aboutus/structureandgovernance/governanceatuwe/boardofgovernors/minutes.aspx.

The above-mentioned minutes state the following:

G13.11.21.2 Members [of UWE’s Board of Governors] also noted an update on a recent protest by students and members of the community against an exhibition held in the Exhibition and Conference Centre which had been perceived by the protesters as an arms fair, a view not shared by the Vice-Chancellor or Deputy Chair. Governors supported the decision of the Vice-Chancellor to allow the event to take place.

The open letter that UWE students sent to their governors to demand an independent review can be read here. To be continued :)

National demonstration at UWE to demand review of repression following ‘arms fair’ on campus

NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION AT UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST OF ENGLAND (UWE BRISTOL) TO DEMAND REVIEW OF CAMPAIGN REPRESSION FOLLOWING ARMS FAIR ON CAMPUS

  • Students and supporters to gather for a national demonstration at UWE Frenchay to demand an independent review of repression against ‘UWE arms fair’ protests on 20 November 2013
  • Demonstration to also highlight UWE’s proximity with the military and military industries, as part of the annual Global Day of Action against Military Spending (GDAMS)

For immediate release: 14 April 2014 @ 7:30am

Students at the University of West of England (UWE Bristol) have written an open letter to UWE board of governors to demand a review of the repressive security at the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) arms fair that was held at UWE on 20 November 2013.

DPRTE is an annual military business and arms fair. The event was attended by a number of major arms companies; including AgustaWestland, Boeing and Babcock.

The campaigners have released an open letter to UWE’s Board of Governors demanding a transparent, comprehensive and independent review into the conduct of the university and the policing of the event. This follows an open letter that students sent to Steve West, UWE’s Vice-Chancellor in the aftermath of the protests. The Vice-Chancellor ignored the letter and subsequent reminders. The students have also started to petition UWE Governors

The students have listed a series of concerns, including:

  • UWE’s decision to rent out the Exhibition and Conference Centre to DPRTE contradicting some of the university’s claimed commitments, especially regarding social justice.

  • Steve West, UWE’s Vice-Chancellor, was present at the protest and was witnessed intimidating protesters, and chasing up policemen to carry out his threats.

  • Annette Hennessy, UWE’s Head of Security, was seen taking pictures of protesters without their consent and without justification.

  • The collaboration between the police and UWE. UWE allowed a police Forward Intelligence Team (FIT) to gather video evidence on non-protesting students at the very heart of the University, far from any protest and after all protests had ceased.

The students argue that the hostility and  repression of “impeccable” protests  demonstrates that the university has now prioritised its partnerships with business and military organisations, even at the detriment of students’ health and safety, as well as universities’ traditional democratic and critical role.

They particularly denounce the hypocrisy of UWE’s Vice-Chancellor who, one month before hosting the ‘UWE arms fair’ and getting personally involved against related protests, portrayed himself as a pioneer of crucial debates, ready to take a strong stance on contemporary global issues.

The students have also called a protest on campus today with support from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) and activists from Bristol Against the Arms Trade (BAAT).  Besides the demand for an independent review, the demonstration will highlight UWE’s proximity with the military, as part of the annual Global Day of Action against Military Spending.

Activists have released a map demonstrating that UWE is stuck between the Ministry of Defence national procurement centre and a business park concentrating mostly military industries or businesses with a strong ties to the military.

The CAAT University Coordinator Holly-Rae Smith said: “We are very concerned that UWE ever felt that the arms trade has any place on their campus. The allegations of repression and intimidation are very serious and are totally at odds with you would expect from a respected university like UWE. How can it claim to welcome democratic protests and champion progressive social change when it is siding with the arms companies?”

Holly-Rae continued: The national action at UWE Bristol on 14 April is to raise awareness about what has been happening on campus. We will also be joining our allies in denouncing the outrageous level of military spending that is fuelling the business of death, at the time as we are seeing deep and widespread cuts to welfare and education”.

Notes for editors and journalists:

we will highlight UWE’s proximity with the military as part of the annual Global Day of Action against Military Spending

CALL OUT: Day of action against military spending/austerity and repression within universities (UWE Bristol this coming Monday – 14 April 2014)

CALL OUT: Day of action against military spending/austerity and repression within universities
UWE Bristol this coming Monday (14 April 2014)

  • ‘Spend on welfare and education, stop fuelling the business of death’. Joint action of UWE students, Bristol Against the Arms Trade and the Campaign Against the Arms Trade student network. Part of the Global Day of Action Against Military Spending (#gdams #demilitarise)
  • ‘A university that represses its students is not a university anymore’. In solidarity with politically active students repressed around the country (#copsoffcampus), calling for calling for an independent review of the repression against 20 November 2013 ‘UWE arms fair’ student protests.

Budget Day on 19 March 2014 confirmed the UK government’s priorities: broad and deep ‘austerity’ cuts to welfare and education, but £38 billion for military spendings (HM Treasury – Budget 2014, page 5). Together with the Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Bristol Against the Arms Trade, students at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) invite you to join their demonstration this coming Monday (14 April) to raise awareness about the UK’s wasteful military spendings enabling the obscene business of death, and to demand a shift in priorities towards education and welfare. This action will be sync’ed with numerous other actions around the world, as part of the Global Day of Action Against Military Spending.

The demonstration will take place within Bristol’s Frenchay suburb to highlight the proximity and relationships between the Ministry of Defence, arms dealers of the ‘Bristol Business Park’ and the university. It will start from UWE Bristol not only to denounce this university’s backstage decision to rent out its conference centre (ECC) to the first two editions of DPRTE. DPRTE is a military business and arms fair widely promoted by the Ministry of Defence and the military community as ‘the UK’s leading defence event’ for businesses ‘to gain [their] share of £160 Bn from the MoD’s 10 Year Equipment Plan’ including £11.4 Bn on weapons, £18.5 Bn on combat air, and £35.8 Bn on submarines and nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

The demonstration will also start from UWE Bristol to denounce the repression against the “‘impeccable’ protest” that UWE students and their allies staged against the ‘UWE arms fair’ on 20 November 2013, and to demand an independent review into those events. Campaigning students have released an open letter to UWE’s Board of Governors demanding a transparent, comprehensive and independent review into the conduct of the university and the policing of the event. This follows an open letter that students sent to UWE’s Vice-Chancellor in the aftermath of the protests. The Vice-Chancellor ignored the letter and subsequent reminders.

If you can come to Bristol this coming Monday:

If you cannot come to this demonstration, there are other ways you can help:

See you on the streets!

What you can do to support the campaign for an independent review of the repression against ‘UWE arms fair’ student protests

Signatures of the petition calling for an independent review of the repression of ‘UWE arms fair’ protests

If you haven’t signed this petition yet, please consider doing so here.

# Name Institution Comment
steve.philbey Once more the Iron Heel shows it’s face. I give solidarity to student action that faces down University police repression of protest against the killing machine being given space to spawn on campus.
***** ***** (13/4/2014@3:34pm) I am sickened, and deeply saddened by our country’s hypocracy. On the one hand condemning other countries for their acts of aggression, while promoting the sale of arms to the very same countries.
***** ***** (14/4/2014@7:30am) University of the West of England The university should not be showing support to this industry. It’s blood money.
Rory Maclean When a university, which is place for people to grow and learn, uses it’s facilities to promote companies which thrive from warfare and chaos, it has devalued it’s students and makes them complicit in an industry of death.
Reg Lee This is unwarranted and unacceptable repression of free speech and the right to protest. Our fathers fought and died for those rights and they are absolutely not yours to take away!
Helen Lewarne This type of repression is the trademark of fascism and must be ended immediately.
***** ***** (9/4/2014@3:38am) Bristol University Appalling- not only does UWE hold an arms fair and support the arms trade, it suppresses the right for students to freedom of speech, the fair right of students with humanity to stand up against the disgraceful killing trade affiliated with the university.
kevin fitzmaurice-brown Photojournalist Excellent work ! The extreme cognitive dissonance of those involved in the weapons industry will only ever be changed by those whose minds have evolved beyond money for death illuminating the dark corners.
Luke Dukinfield Warwick Repression of peaceful protest must cease. There should be no penance for striving to champion harmony, democracy and justice on our campuses – for struggling to sentinel the integrity of the University as a public institution of learning rather than a private enterprise of profit, especially when that profit is submerged in blood. Exile cops from campus, and return the University to those who sustain its operation each and every day – the students and workers, united.
Patricia McManus University of Sussex What place has an arms fair on a University campus? Those students had a responsibility to protest such an obscenity.
***** ***** (5/4/2014@9:53am) University of Bristol This archaic approach to protest is highly unintelligtent.
***** ***** (3/4/2014@10:40am) UWE Bristol A university that represses its own protesting students is not a university anymore.
Martyn Wood UWE alumni I work with nursing students from UWE, all caring & well-trained individuals. The contrast with their university which can suppress student protests at the “defence industry” being allowed onto their campus is alarming. I support the conscientious students, not the management who lack an understanding of their student’s rights & wishes.
***** ***** (8/4/2014@4:52am) UWE (2005-2012) A Right to air your voice and a right to protest must be maintained in a democratic society
Ade Couper
Bevan Richardson UWE Bristol
Graham Martin
***** ***** (6/4/2014@1:45am) UWE Bristol
Nicola Willis Bristol University
William Morris UWE Bristol
Ben Storey UWE Bristol
Jay Stone UWE Bristol
Faye Quinn UWE Bristol
***** ***** (7/4/2014@1:24pm) University of the West of England
Charlotte Sexauer UWE
Roseanne Sinfield
Anthony Killick UWE alumni
Giulia Zampini University of Kent
Haris
***** ***** (7/4/2014@12:44pm)
Guy Allen uwe grad
Lee Salter Sussex
***** ***** (7/4/2014@2:55pm) UWE
Greg Tuck (ex)UWE
Nadia Arancio
Simon Moreton UWE
george kosmopoulos University of the West of England
***** ***** (7/4/2014@11:27pm) UWE
Andy Medhurst University of Sussex
William McEvoy University of Sussex
Gareth Roberts UWE Graduate
Einar Thorsen Bournemouth University
***** ***** (8/4/2014@3:01am) UKC
***** ***** (8/4/2014@2:30am) UWE
Dr James Kneale UCL
Jilly Kay De Montfort University (UWE alumni)
Matt Hollinshead UWE
***** ***** (8/4/2014@7:29am) UWE
aisha iqbal UWE
Nathan Wagstaff
Donald Saunders
Deirdre King
Rowland Carson
Judy Kerr
Stephen Hunt
George Millman
***** ***** (9/4/2014@6:57am) UWE
***** ***** (9/4/2014@6:29am) UWE
dave balkwill DBalkwill
Robynn Lee Kaiser /
Laura Denning
Ms Sue Ellery
Dave Rendle
***** ***** (15/4/2014@4:43am) UWE
Tom Nottingham University
***** ***** (14/4/2014@1:32pm) UWE
Piala Murray
Annette Taberner
Corinna Taylor RHUL
Jude Pettigrew
Rob Mitchell UWE
***** ***** (14/4/2014@7:10am) UWE
***** ***** (12/4/2014@9:59am)
Lucy Sparks
***** ***** (12/4/2014@4:36am) UWE
***** ***** (11/4/2014@7:49pm) University of Bristol Education is a right. Not a privilege.
***** ***** (11/4/2014@3:04pm)
***** ***** (11/4/2014@8:58 am) UWE
***** ***** (11/4/2014@8:57am) UWE [anonymised]
Jimmy Gibson University of Bristol
John Harris OU & Cardiff Uni UWE will say that they have a right to host events and lease space for
events on their property when this does not conflict with and damage
their fundamental duty to their principle customer, in this case the
students of UWE.They will say they have an absolute right to establish relationships
without consultation with, and without the agreement of UWE’s
principal clientele group.How can we tell that the students are the primary customers?

All we have to do is to examine the meaning and purpose of this
university, or indeed almost any university.

Many tests can be applied to determine the majority legal obligations
of a body like UWE, such as the extent to which it accepts public
money, or money that comes from public sources, as well as the purpose
for which this funding is granted or allocated.

On a more practical level, it will be clear to everyone that if UWE’s
main clients, the student body abandoned UWE, withdrawing their
patronage, UWE would soon need to release its academic staff and
either sell out to some commercial buyer, or become a completely
different institution, but this supposes that the Government would not
intervene before any such situation results.

A university must carefully consider the nature of any private
sponsorship, as well as the terms and conditions that pertain, and it
must consider its standing in the world, were it to break trust with
its primary clientele group.

It is also worth noting that the symbolism displayed with UWE’s Coat
of Arms – Light, Liberty, Learning – is a quotation from Benjamin
Disraeli, but the roots of UWE date back far longer to the formation
of the Merchant Venturers Navigation School in 1595.

Universities are generally said to have their legal status through a
combination of common law, and statutory and administrative law, and
any university, as a consequence, would do well to think long and hard
before it chooses to place its own needs ahead of those of its primary
clientele, the student body.

Brutalising members of your primary clientele, treading on their
rights and denying common freedoms is genuinely risky business, and
any august body that determines to do so is taking a decision to
become a high stakes gambler, and taking risks it may spend years
regretting as it struggles to repair its reputation, not to mention
that in the aftermath, any negotiated resolution can result in the
summary departure of a number of highly placed officials, as a
condition of restoring peaceful relationships and allowing the
principal business of the institution to resume.

***** ***** (11/4/2014@5:02am) UWE
Robin White
Ian Tippet
Felicity Dowling Principal Speaker, Left Unity Universities must have free speech. Money must not be allowed to dictate to universities. War is a real and present danger.
Linda Åkerström Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS)
***** ***** (18/4/2014@11:49am) UWE
Ashley Davy UWE
Stephen Le Fanu University of Bristol
Rachel O’Neill
***** ***** (20/4/2014@8:49am) UWE
***** ***** (19/4/2014@10:29am) UWE
***** ***** (19/4/2014@1:36am)
***** ***** (11/4/2014@6:23 am) UWE
Jimmy Gibson University of Bristol
christian northwood UWE
***** ***** (11/4/2014@5:02am) UWE
***** ***** (20/4/2014@8:49am) UWE
Lee Everson
Allison Challen Well done to all the peaceful protesters.
Rebecca
Weronika Sakowska UWE
Beth NCAFC
Alan Valentine

Last update of the list: 27 April 2014 at 5pm.

We provided the option to sign anonymously due to concerns of repression/retaliation. Such signatures and the related information appear as follows: ***** ***** (date the signature was received).