Statement from the Students’ Union Officers

Sheffield Students’ Union is pleased that the injunction issued by the University of Sheffield that restricted protests in University buildings has been pulled in Sheffield County Court this afternoon.

The injunction restricted the right for students to protest in University of Sheffield buildings. Many Students’ Union societies and committees have contacted us in the last 24 hours to express their fear that they would not be able to hold future protests, gather petitions or even run awareness raising campaigns without fear of being prosecuted.

Whilst we recognise the original aim of the University was to limit occupations, the wording of the initial injunction and subsequent copies had left students fearing that their right to protest was being infringed.

Following a discussion between the Students’ Union Officers and the Vice-Chancellor this afternoon, the University agreed to pull the injunction. We thank the University for listening to the concerns we raised on behalf of students and for negotiating with us a suitable outcome.

Statement from the Students Union

We support the right of students to protest against a wide range of issues. We are concerned that the current wording of the Injunction applied for by (and granted to) the University limits this right without the prior permission of the University.

We understand many students, including our our campaigning societies, are concerned about this wording, feeling it will limit their right to protest about a wide range of issues. Many feel the University could use this injuction to limit activity such as gaining petition signatures and even general awareness campaigns relating to any variety of issues.

Whilst we recognise the University may well have no intention to limit protest actions other than occupations, the wording of the injunction doesn’t ensure this intent. 

We are currently negotiating with the University with the aim of resolving this situation.”

Sheffield University Amnesty Group Response to Protest Injunction

What follows is the Sheffield University Amnesty Groups response to the Protest Injunction. 

"Within the last 48 hours, Sheffield University have applied for and had successfully approved an injunction which bans any form of protest on campus without the university’s written permission beforehand. We, the Sheffield University Amnesty Group, are deeply concerned that this signifies a severe constraint on the freedom of expression of students and the right to protest. Amnesty International, whilst standing up for all human rights, has always had a defence of freedom of expression and non-violent protest at the heart of its work. It was founded by Peter Benenson after he heard that people in Portugal had been imprisoned merely for expressing their political opinion. Currently in the Middle-East and North Africa, people are putting their lives at risk in places like Syria and Egypt because they believe that they are entitled to peacefully protest against their authoritarian regimes. In our democracy, we take it for granted that we have the basic human right to express our opinion but we must remember this is always a privilege and never an inconvenience. Any accountable body must allow its members to peacefully object to what it proposes to carry out, especially when its members are so crucial to its existence. By banning student protest without written permission, Sheffield University are denying its students this essential right; a right that is set out in legislation under Article 10: Freedom of Expression and Article 11: Freedom of Assembly of the Human Rights Act 1998. Amnesty International has and always will stand with those who are silenced and give a voice to those who are not allowed one. This is why, as a Sheffield University Amnesty Group, we oppose this injunction and any further restriction on peaceful protest. We stand in solidarity with those who oppose it whilst remaining impartial and independent from any political movement.”

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'Persons (including students of the University of Sheffield) entering or remaining up the campus and buildings of the University of Sheffield for the purpose of protest action (without the consent of the University of Sheffield)'

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Official Statement on the Court Injunction

Sheffield University Occupation has been served with a court injunction which constitutes an attack on the right to protest. The injunction, obtained by the University management, has placed a one-year ban on all protests on University property (which could potentially include picket lines and campaign stalls) that have not been given written permission from the University. It is of course extremely unlikely that they would grant permission for any protest criticising the University over cuts, fees and education reform, hence this constitutes an effective ban on all protest at the University of which management does not approve. This will affect all groups and societies at the University, as well as lecturers and support staff picketing on days of strike action.

The University management has furthermore broken off all official communication with the Occupation, refusing to consider any of our demands. We are still entirely open to negotiations with management, but we will not be intimidated by threats of forcible eviction. The University is threatening our imminent forcible removal at 9pm, and we need as many people as possible here in order to peacefully resist!

This is an escalation of management’s tactics, which began with the unnecessary cancellation of all lectures in the Arts Tower by University management (when we have specifically made clear that any disruption to education is NOT our aim). It is in the interests of all students and workers to resist these attacks on our rights, and we call upon all groups and individuals affected to give full support to our ongoing legal appeal. We can be contacted at the Occupied Space, Arts Tower Lecture Theatre 4, or on sheffoccupation@gmail.com.

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The University Management have served us with an injunction. This will effectively ban ALL forms of protest, by anybody, across the whole of the campus. This is utterly ridiculous. Details to follow.


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Film Showing: The Grapes of Wrath

        

     

The Grapes of Wrath is a 1940 drama film directed by John Ford. It was based on John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name.

The film tells the story of the Joads, an Oklahoma family, who, after losing their farm during the Great Depression in the 1930s, become migrant workers and end up in California. The film details their arduous journey across the United States as they travel to California in search of work and opportunities for the family members.


                           9.30PM Arts Tower, LT4 - ALLL WELCOME

General Assembly Tonight 6:30pm

We hope to have some delegates from the electricians rank and file union speaking, which will be an interesting and informative talk.

We will also be discussing what the plans are for the next few days and for the future.

ALL ARE WELCOME (including Sheffield University Students, Hallam Students, FE Students, Lecturers, Support Staff, Administrative Staff..)

We invite anybody who was on strike yesterday, and those intending to go on strike in the next day of action, come down and tell us how it went, what you think, what you want from the universities/colleges/government in general.

If you’re being affected by cuts to your pension, cuts to course funding, redundancies, casual contracts and the like, we’d like to hear from you and hear how the cuts are affecting you and how we can show our support!

come on down and bring your friends!

Official Statement

The occupation of the University of Sheffield is a peaceful and non-violent protest – we stand in solidarity with the trade unions and the millions of public sector workers who went on strike today in protest against the decimation of their pensions, and against the austerity agenda of the ConDem government. We believe that the trade union movement must link up with workers in the private sector in order to defeat all cuts: we call on the TUC to set dates for further strike action as soon as possible in 2012.

We do not seek to disrupt lectures! We call upon all lecturers and students to continue to go to their lectures as normal, regardless of other arrangement made by University authorities, since our presence seeks to facilitate education and engagement with students.

Students from the Universities of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam are particularly aware of the attacks made on their own lecturers and the support staff at the Universities, and the occupation is in full and vocal support to the legitimate grievances of the staff of the Universities’ staff. Any further industrial action which the staff of the Universities take will receive full support from the occupation.

Students and workers share a common cause – we are both having our futures denied to us. Both public and private sector workers are seeing dramatic cuts made in their pensions; youth unemployment is now officially over one million, and graduate employment currently stands at 19%. Furthermore, cuts are already impacting the quality of our education: some departments have had their teaching budget slashed by 80%. We fully oppose all cuts and job losses in education, since they will impact both workers and students.

The tuition fee increases, pushed through Parliament at the end of last year, represent another step towards the commodication and privatisation of our education, the access to which will in future be decided on the ability to pay tuition fees rather than the ability of the student. The shifting of the burden of fees from the taxpayer to the individual will further increase the drive for our Universities to court morally bankrupt companies such as BAE, Thales and other arms dealers for funding. University tuition fees are an affront to the fundamental human right of free access to education.

This occupation seeks to create a viable alternative to the cuts agenda of all of the main political parties – working people, students, the unemployed, the elderly and the disabled are not responsible for the financial crisis, and therefore we should not pay for the crisis caused by the gambling financial aristocracy. We therefore fully support demands for the reclamation of the £120bn avoided in tax every year by the rich, by closing tax loopholes and hiring more tax collectors to plug the huge tax gap which makes up 85% of Britain’s budget deficit.

Finally, the democratic right to protest is being eroded by a series of politically motivated arrests and prosecutions such as that of the 109 activists mass-arrested at the peaceful Fortnum and Mason sit-in on March 26th. We believe that these arrests and prosecutions, along with the increasingly authoritarian measures authorised for use by police, are clearly designed to intimidate protesters with legitimate grievances and tactics, and we condemn these developments in the strongest terms.

Therefore, Sheffield Occupation demand:

· We demand the implementation of a living wage for all university staff, including support staff and bank workers, of at least £7.20 per hour in accordance with the Living Wage Campaign.

· We demand that the Universities make all rooms fully accessible

· We demand that Sheffield Vice Chancellors take a pay cut before other staff who are already on low pay rates. 

· We demand that the Universities publish a report on how the cuts will be implemented and what their effect will be on each department.

· Give Teaching Assistants a contract and end the casualisation of academic labour.

· We demand a No Confidence vote in David Willets and the Education White Paper be brought to University Senate.

· We demand that both Student Unions become more active in campaigns to defend the right to education, bearing in mind the overwhelming mandate for this expressed at last month’s student union elections. The SU letter, demand it to be more forceful.

· We demand an anti-sexism policy across campuses and that this policy be enforced.

· We demand a written undertaking that the Universities will stop all involvement with arms companies such as BAE systems within the next five years.

· We demand that the University does not victimise anyone involved in the Occupation or any other anti-cuts activism.

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