Holly-Rae Smith and UWE student Benoît Dutilleul co-authored a report and analysis of the rise of repression in UK universities for the New Internationalist blog. If you want to read it, it is here.
According to a Freedom of Information request made to several UK universities, UWE shared the details of “around six students (…) with the police in the last three years” without requiring a court order to share those details.
Please sign the petition to #reviewUWE and spread the word!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 (email@example.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
This little action also already proved quite effective since UWESU, the Deputy Clerk to the Board of Governors and the Editor of the student newspaper stopped ignoring us, and all got in touch shortly before or after the action!
We’ll be posting more updates about this campaign soon but, for the time being, we’ve put together a short photo report of the afternoon. Please join our next coordination meeting this coming Thursday (17 April) at 5:30 in Core24 at UWE Frenchay if you want to get involved. Please also don’t forget to sign the petition if you haven’t done this already.
If you haven’t already, please consider signing, sharing and promoting our petition to #reviewUWE. To be continued …
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:
- The demonstration will start at 12:30pm from the university’s main bus station at Frenchay.
- How to get to UWE Bristol Frenchay Campus: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/comingtouwe/campusesmapsandtravel/frenchaycampus/howtogettofrenchaycampus.aspx
- Protesters are encouraged to get ready to make noise and/or music, and to bring a paper plane.
- Independent trained legal observers will be there to protect our democratic rights and document possible breaches to our right to protest.
- Please let us know if you intend to come: firstname.lastname@example.org or on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/611036545631316/
If you cannot come to this demonstration, there are other ways you can help:
- Sign, promote and share the petition demanding an independent review of the repression against ‘UWE arms fair’ student protests (https://network23.org/better-together/2014/04/03/petition-demanding-independent-review-of-the-repression-against-the-uwe-arms-fair-protests-to-governors-of-the-university-of-the-west-of-england-uwe-bristol/)
- Follow our website (https://network23.org/better-together/), our twitter (@uwebusiness) and facebook (https://www.facebook.com/uwe.better.together). Share and promote this campaign and the above-mentioned actions to students, workers and friends, and on social media (hashtags: #copsoffcampus #gdams #demilitarize #uwe).
See you on the streets!
- Read the extended open letter UWE students sent to UWE governors (and the earlier open letter we sent to Steve West which he ignored) requesting an independent review.
- Sign the petition demanding an independent review of the repression against ‘UWE arms fair’ student protests (and/or see who signed it).
- Join our demonstration at UWE Bristol this coming Monday (14 April) starting at 12:30 at the bus station of UWE’s Frenchay’s campus. You may also join our meeting on Thursday, 5:30pm at UWE Frenchay’s ‘Core24’ cafe.
- Follow us on twitter (@uwebusiness) and facebook. Share and promote this campaign and the above-mentioned actions to fellow students, colleagues and friends, and on social media (hashtags: #copsoffcampus #gdams #demilitarize #uwe).
- If you’re UWE-based, get involved with the campaign and start taking some of the tasks.
- If you were present at the protests on 19 and 20 November get in touch and write a witness statement if you haven’t already.
If you haven’t signed this petition yet, please consider doing so here.
|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|
|Bevan Richardson||UWE Bristol|
|***** ***** (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|
|Anthony Killick||UWE alumni|
|Giulia Zampini||University of Kent|
|***** ***** (7/4/2014@12:44pm)|
|Guy Allen||uwe grad|
|***** ***** (7/4/2014@2:55pm)||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)|
|***** ***** (8/4/2014@7:29am)||UWE|
|***** ***** (9/4/2014@6:57am)||UWE|
|***** ***** (9/4/2014@6:29am)||UWE|
|Robynn Lee Kaiser||/|
|Ms Sue Ellery|
|***** ***** (15/4/2014@4:43am)||UWE|
|***** ***** (14/4/2014@1:32pm)||UWE|
|***** ***** (14/4/2014@7:10am)||UWE|
|***** ***** (12/4/2014@9:59am)|
|***** ***** (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
Many tests can be applied to determine the majority legal obligations
On a more practical level, it will be clear to everyone that if UWE’s
A university must carefully consider the nature of any private
It is also worth noting that the symbolism displayed with UWE’s Coat
Universities are generally said to have their legal status through a
Brutalising members of your primary clientele, treading on their
|***** ***** (11/4/2014@5:02am)||UWE|
|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|
|Stephen Le Fanu||University of Bristol|
|***** ***** (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|
|***** ***** (11/4/2014@5:02am)||UWE|
|***** ***** (20/4/2014@8:49am)||UWE|
|Allison Challen||Well done to all the peaceful protesters.|
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).
On 20 November 2013, campaigning UWE students “staged an ‘impeccable’ protest” against DPRTE, the military business and arms fair held at UWE in 2012 and 2013. Despite widespread hostility, repression and criminalisation, sometimes extending to harassment, threats and violence from DPRTE participants, private security and the police, humble yet determined protests proved sufficient to boot the biggest military business and arms fair in the South West off campus. Indeed, DPRTE is not coming back to UWE this year
However, the university still has a lot to answer, not least because Steve West — UWE’s Vice-Chancellor — was seen at the protests directly intimidating his own students and then chasing up policemen in an attempt to carry out his threats; because Annette Hennessy, UWE’s Head of Security, was seen liaising with the police and gathering photographic evidence against protesters, including UWE students, without their consent and without justification; and because UWE allowed police and one intelligence-gathering ‘FIT’ team to intimidate, harass and gather video evidence on non-protesting students at the very heart of the University.
Campaigning UWE students have released an open letter demanding to the governors of their university a transparent, comprehensive and independent review of the repression against the ‘UWE arms fair’ protests on 20 November 2013 .
Please support campaigning UWE students and democracy by signing this petition to demand a transparent, comprehensive and independent review into the repression of the 20 November 2013 ‘UWE arms fair’ student protests to UWE’s Board of Governors.
If you are a current UWE student, please use this form instead.
For immediate release: 2 April 2014
UWE students see off biggest military business and arms fair in the South West, call for independent review, and announce national protest at UWE Bristol on 14 April
On 20 November 2013, UWE students “staged an ‘impeccable’ protest”1 against DPRTE, the military business and arms fair held at UWE in 2012 and 2013. Despite widespread hostility as well as systematic silencing, manipulation, repression and criminalisation, sometimes extending to threatened and actual violence from DPRTE participants, university security and the police, humble yet determined protests proved sufficient to see off the biggest military business and arms fair in the South West2. Early today, campaigning students released an open letter to UWE’s Board of Governors demanding an transparent, comprehensive and independent review into the university, following the repression against their peaceful protests, including direct efforts of UWE VC and the university’s Head of Security to intimidate and criminalise peaceful protesters. Campaigning UWE students also confirmed that activists and supporters will gather at UWE Bristol on 14 April 2014 for a national action called for by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade in solidarity with repressed UWE students, to denounce UWE’s collusion with the military and as part of the Global Day of Action Against Military Spending.
Karen who studies Engineering at UWE said: “UWE crossed a line on 20 November by participating to the repression and criminalisation of its own students, while claiming to welcome democratic protests3 and champion progressive social change4. As far as we know, it is also the first time in UK history a Vice-chancellor dared to directly intimidate his own students and to then chase up policemen in an attempt to carry out his threats. For UWE students, the national action at UWE Bristol on 14 April is specifically to raise awareness about what happened on campus on 20 November. It is also part of an escalating campaign to push for an independent review to hold everyone accountable for their actions and inaction during and following those events. As part of the Global Day of Action Against Military Spending, we will also be denouncing with our allies outrageous military spendings fuelling the business of death, in the time of widespread and deep cuts to welfare and education”.
1 On 20 November 2013, UWE’s student newspaper, the Western Eye, the only media that was present onsite and that thus could directly observe the protests, reported that “students stage[d] ‘impeccable’ protest” and that “Most student observations of the day’s events favoured the humble efforts of the protestors to hold both the ‘arms’ industry and UWE to account for it actions” (http://www.westerneye.net/news/2013/11/students-stage-impeccable-protest/).
3See the comment of John Rushforth, UWE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/jan/09/student-protests-university-evictions
4See the following opinion piece of Steve West, UWE’s Vice-Chancellor: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comment/opinion/a-leaders-role-as-public-intellectual-approach-with-care/2008176.article
Notes for editors and journalists:
- For an account of the events and issues that arose around DPRTE 2013 protests, read the open letter UWE students addressed to the university’s Board of Governors: https://network23.org/better-together/2014/04/02/open-letter-to-uwe-board-of-governors-demanding-an-independent-review-of-uwe-arms-fair-protest-repression/
- Please inform us if you plan to report on the 14 April protests at UWE Bristol so that we can ensure you can find us and access the protest site(s).
- Past and future press releases will be posted on the following website: https://network23.org/better-together/
- On 14 April, we will provide live updates on twitter @uwestruggles: https://twitter.com/uwestruggles