Socialist Worker

Resistance escalates as Sussex students and workers fight cuts

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2192

Police arrest a student at Sussex

Police arrest a student at Sussex


Bosses have raised the stakes for students and lecturers struggling against cuts at Sussex university.

During the past week they have used harsh and draconian measures to curtail resistance.

They called riot police onto campus to end a protest on Wednesday of last week and later suspended six students.

But the movement is still going from strength to strength.

Lecturers in the UCU union at Sussex voted by 76 percent for strikes, on an unprecedented 80.9 percent turnout. Students organised an anti-cuts carnival to celebrate the strike result last Wednesday, and raise money for the strike fund.

Over 200 students took part, playing music, making speeches and leafleting to spread the support for the Stop the Cuts campaign.

Around half the protesters then occupied Sussex House, where senior management have their offices.

Managers called in the police.

At around 4pm more students gathered outside Sussex House to demonstrate in solidarity with the occupation.

Students had already seen 16 police vans on campus.

Dozens of officers – some in riot gear, others with dogs, tasers or pepper spray – grabbed students.

Students were threatened with tasers and hit with batons.

Police arrested three students (you can »  see this on the YouTube video ).

Third year student Simon told Socialist Worker, “I’ve seen police behave like this on the streets but it’s a step up for them to wage this kind of attack on a campus.”

Professor Bob Allison, the pro vice chancellor of the university, watched the police response to the occupation.

First year student Adam told Socialist Worker, “It is university management who are responsible for this attack.

“It is them who called the police and let them do what they wanted.”

Management have stuck posters all over campus announcing a high court injunction against further protests. But on Friday lunchtime, students organised a demonstration against police violence and to defend the right to protest.

Some 150 students and staff marched on Sussex House.

By late afternoon six students involved in the Stop the Cuts campaign had been suspended and threatened with expulsion.

These suspensions came directly from the vice chancellor, Michael Farthing.

The suspensions ban the students from lectures and university property for a minimum of 30 working days.

Protesters marched around campus and student residences shouting the news. They gathered 150 students in under an hour.

Owen, who helped organise the protest, told Socialist Worker, “These attacks could really backfire on management.”

The UCU union needs to call dates for strike action as soon as possible.

Sussex is a test case in the battle against cuts. Lecturers at Sussex are ready to fight – and united with the students they can win.

Sign the petition: »  defendsussex.wordpress.com/2010/03/05/petition-against-student-suspensions


Westminster University

Almost 200 students protested against cuts at Westminster University on Monday last week.

Around 80 students occupied management offices. Some stayed overnight with hostile security who at times stopped access to toilets and food facilities.

“This occupation has shifted the ground now,” said Gabriele, a Westminster student. “The staff are more confident and are planning to strike with other institutions on 29 April.”

Bosses sent photos of the occupiers to lecturers asking them to identify the “offending” students. The UCU union has called on workers to refuse to comply with management’s demands.


University College London

Over 200 students rallied against cuts plans at University College London (UCL) on Wednesday last week. Over 70 then held a sit in the main foyer.

“It’s clear there are cuts on the way,” says Becky Anderton, a European social and political studies student.

“This demo is a big step forward. I think students will support lecturers if they go on strike, but we need their solidarity too.”


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