Nottingham students fight for free speech

Submitted by AWL on 25 January, 2008 - 10:56 Author: Charlie Salmon

Students at Nottingham University are calling a demonstration for 21 February against attempts to quash their rights to protest and organise. One student has been arrested and others banned from the library for failing to ask permission to demonstrate and circulate petitions.

Shortly before the Christmas holidays, administrators called in the police after students from the Palestinian Society refused to disband a small protest on campus. One student was arrested (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZLwtit8GXM for a video of events). But this is just the most extreme example of the bureaucratic measures deployed against voices of dissent — with the effective consent of the right-wing-dominated student union.

If students wish to circulate a petition, leaflet or hold a campaign stall they must seek authorisation. The criteria for accepting or refusing requests is not published and no reasoned explanation offered to students. But even if such information were available, the very idea that students should seek permission to protest is grotesque.

Activists are planning a firm response.

About 900 students have already pledged support for the campaign and a recent organising meeting agreed on a number of measures to overturn these rules culminating in the protest on 23 February. Students from

Manchester and Sheffield universities have already pledged support along with local trade unions and activists in Nottingham.

• For more information contact ENS activist Teodora Todorova at lqyztat@nottingham.ac.uk

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