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.

A closer look at UWE Bristol’s “Distinguished Address Series”

Since 2008, UWE’s Bristol Business School has been running the so-called “Bristol Distinguished Address Series“. This series is described by the university as “a unique opportunity to hear about the challenges, issues and decisions being made at the highest level of strategic leadership” and promoted as an opportunity to “meet leaders of industry“. However, more than a platform enabling and relaying the university’s pro-business agenda, this series has featured several arms companies.

On 16 October 2014, as part of the so-called “Bristol Distinguished Address Series“, UWE Bristol hosted Leo Quinn, the CEO of QinetiQ. QinetiQ is the 6th largest UK arms company  according to tCampaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), and the 52th biggest global defence company by revenue according to Defence News’ Top 100 for 2012. Qinetiq prides itself on its expertise designing weapons, and for providing facilities and products for testing weapons. It is a close partner of the Ministry of Defence, from which it received £998m in 2013 as the third five-year term payment of a 25-years long partnering agreement.

UWE_Bristol_Distinguished_Executive_Address_Bristol_Lectures_QinetiQ
A postcard produced by campaigners highlights the kind of technology QinetiQ makes its business from, and how it is used. Source: Better Together.

This is not the first time UWE invites this particular arms dealer. On 28 October 2009, the same “distinguished address” series invited Graham Love, then QinetiQ’s Chief Executive Officer. Interestingly, one day after being celebrated as an exemplary business leader at UWE, Graham Love would quit his job after the company was criticised for “fail[ing] to properly fulfil its duties as an independent advisor” in the investigation of the Nimrod plane crash that claimed 14 lives.

Qinetic_and_friendsFrom left to right: Jane Harrington (Pro Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of UWE’s Faculty of Business and Law and UWE Governor), Graham Love (CEO of  QinetiQ), John Rushforth (UWE’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor) and Nicholas O’Regan (UWE Professor at Bristol Business School and founder of the “Distinguished Address Series”). Picture taken the day of Graham Love’s speech on 28 October 2009 at UWE Bristol (Frenchay campus), and one day before the CEO of QinetiQ quit his job following the Nimrod plane crash scandal. Picture from UWE Bristol Business School flickr account.

QinetiQ is also not the only arms dealer UWE has hosted as part of this “lecture” series. Past guests have included BAE Systems (3rd biggest global defence company according to Defence News’2012 ranking), Boeing (2nd biggest according to the same ranking), nuclear specialists Babcock, (32nd biggest) or  Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S, self-described as a “bespoke trading entity” of the MoD with an annual budget of £14 billion). Besides speakers from the arms trade, the series also featured managers of “distinguished” businesses such as Tesco, Hilton or Lloyds Banking Group.

The Bristol Distinguished Address Series (also sometimes referred to as Distinguished Executive Address Series, DEA) has been running since at least 2008. According to David Pinchard, the series was launched by Nicholas O’Reagan, a Professor at Bristol Business School. Achieved in partnership with pro-business organisations such as Business Westthe UK’s top business lobbying organisation, the Institute of Directors, or Bristol Junior Chamber, it  is UWE Bristol’s event to engage with, celebrate and facilitate big business, thus contributing to the university’s pro-business “partnership” strategy.

Thus, while those events are branded as a “lecture” and promoted to students as a “a unique opportunity to hear about the challenges, issues and decisions being made at the highest level of strategic leadership”, they are also advertised to the business community as a social and networking event complete with “wine and canapes”: After every event there is an opportunity to network and build up your business industry contacts.

For the university, it seems that any business goes. Distinguishing such managers and setting them as models is completely unproblematic. Hence, for example, QinetiQ’s talk was about “cultural transformation”. The fact that QinetiQ makes huge profits through developing, testing and manufacturing arms was written off the event’s description, UWE speaking instead of the country’s “largest research and technology organisation”. Moreover, the university’s spokesperson claimed that the event represented the university’s “culture of free and open discussion. UWE Bristol thus not just trivialises the arms trade, but celebrates and furthers  corporate greed including profiteers from the business of death, under the pretence of democracy.

Does a speech by a business manager constitute democratic debate? Should UWE keep celebrating and enabling the arms trade through its “distinguished” #BristolLecture series? Is it ok for a university to legitimise the arms trade, trivialising it and making it look respectable? Is it ok for a university to further the interests of any business? And should UWE’s “distinguished address series” host a high-ranking manager of British Petroleum on 11 February 2015, at the beginning of Bristol Green Capital? Let us know what you think over here and/or on twitter (#BristolLectures).

#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!

Photo report of #reviewUWE and #GDAMS day of action at UWE Bristol

We had a fun and instructive walk around campus this afternoon.
Map_review_UWE

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.

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Students and supporters gather at UWE’s bus station at Frenchay. Some students came from as far as Portsmouth for this day of action!

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In the corridors of UWE’s Frenchay campus.

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On the way to the Farmhouse, the office of UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and the building where UWE’s Board of Governors meet.

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Activist arms factory: today we’re making paper airplanes.

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Those paper airplanes are to bombard the farmhouse with messages and requests to hold an independent review.

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This may seem small but this is the first time ever that there is a student protest at the doorstep of the Vice-Chancellor’s office (not that there aren’t many reasons to do so!)

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Trying to communicate with UWE’s Vice-Chancellor (who ignored our open letter) by aiming our paper airplanes at one opened window (which they soon closed).

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The Farmhouse: bombarded

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A message from UWE students and their supporters for UWE’s Vice-Chancellor and the university’s Board of Governors

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Inside the entrance of Thales

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We were followed by the police who were more gentle than last November.

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)

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).

Petition demanding independent review of the repression against the ‘UWE arms fair’ protests to UWE Bristol Governors

Petition_Independent_Review

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.

[si-contact-form form=’1′]

See the list of the first signatorees.