An Open Letter from Human Rights students to the University of London

10th of December 2013: Human Rights Day

Dear Vice-Chancellor Adrian Smith and Chief Operating Officer Chris Cobb,

On International Human Rights day, as recent alumni and current students of the University of London, we would like to express our deep concern regarding the court order, obtained on the 4th of December, banning occupational protests in parts of the University of London’s Holborn campus. We believe that this court order restricts students’ right to peaceful protest and contradicts the spirit of the University of London’s own human rights curriculum.

We chose to come to the University of London, a world-leading academic institution, to study a Masters degree in human rights. As the University of London offers human rights courses in four of its major colleges, we are deeply disturbed by the institution’s decision to curtail the democratic rights of its students on campus.

The court order threatens students with imprisonment or fines for all occupational protests taking place in certain areas of the University of London campus during the next six months. We believe that this undermines students’ rights to freedom of assembly and expression, and restricts their ability to engage in critical dialogue with the University of London community, as well as with wider society.

The University of London has stated that it will not stop peaceful protests from taking place, despite imposing a ban on all occupational protests in some parts of its campus. If the University does intend to permit all peaceful protests taking place during the next six months, it is not clear why the obtained court order is necessary. We are concerned that the ban will act as a limitation and deterrent for all protests, including those that do not involve occupation.

We acknowledge that, should a student behave violently during a protest, they may face legal consequences. However, imposing a ban on all occupational protests in certain areas of the University campus is an entirely disproportionate response. The University of London ought to engage in meaningful and respectful dialogue with student-led campaigns instead of threatening peaceful protestors with legal action.

Furthermore, we are highly concerned regarding the alleged police violence against student protestors at the University of London campus in the first week of December. An immediate, impartial and thorough investigation should be conducted into these allegations.

In summary, the University of London’s response to recent student protests has been disproportionate and an alarming curtailment of students’ democratic rights and freedoms. We urge you to immediately call on the High Court of Justice to revoke the order restricting students’ ability to protest. The University of London must also offer its full support to investigations into alleged police violence against student protestors.

Universities ought to be nuclei of societal dialogue, as well as progressive political thought and action. Under no circumstances should they repress peaceful demonstrations. We stand in solidarity with all students of the University who exercise their right to peaceful protest, and denounce all attempts to curtail this right.

We ask you to ensure that the University of London acts in accordance with the essential spirit of human rights, including the rights to assembly and expression, the theory and practice of which are taught in the lecture theatres and rooms of your own institutions.

Thank you for your attention on this urgent matter.

Yours Sincerely,

Students of the MA Human Rights Course
School of Public Policy, UCL

1. Rachel Nye, UCL

2. Janey Stephenson, UCL

3. Shirley van der Maarel, UCL

4. Mark Arnold, UCL

5. Milja Komulainen, UCL

6. Will Clark, UCL

7. Hana Farhat, UCL

8. Aoife Ní Chorcoráin, UCL

9. Jennifer Higgins, UCL

10. Aurora Percanella, UCL

11. Katherine Wall, UCL

12. Jelmarie Rodriquez, UCL

13. Francisca Stewart, UCL

14. Beth McManus, UCL

15. Erin Mee, UCL

16. Cem Gurkan, UCL

17. Sebastian Smart, UCL

18. Shae Kay, UCL

19. Priya Agarwal-Harding, UCL

20. Flávia Melo, UCL

21. Janine Ensing, UCL

22. Gamze Şanlı, UCL

23. Nadia Noor, UCL

24. Dorothea Schoppek, UCL

25. Nick McKenzie, UCL

26. Sarfraz Khan Virk, UCL

27. Naba al-Nahi, UCL

28. Udit Bhatia, UCL

29. Sara Abed, UCL

30. Joe Fitzpatrick, UCL

31. Panayiota Tamazou, UCL

32. Nina Nilofar, UCL

33. Sally Prestt, UCL

34. Upjeet Kaur, UCL

35. Jessica Ford, UCL

36. Martina Tussi, UCL

37. Isobel Aiken, UCL

38. Ruth Mair, UCL

39. Siobhán Margolis, UCL

40. Elly Thomas, UCL

41. Ruth Jacob, UCL

42. James Ayre, UCL

43. Rachel Fox, UCL

44. Matt Waller, UCL

45. Rasha Sharkia, UCL

46. Harriet Douglas, UCL

47. Qadeer Abdilleh, UCL

48. Verde d’Aquino, UCL

49. Sabrina Pulcyn, UCL

50. S. Mark Edwards, UCL

51. Sarah Shin, UCL

52. Erica Murphy, UCL

53. Michael Wilkes, UCL

54. Virginia Fletcher, UCL

55. Margherita Gabriele, UCL

56. Juned Mehrajul Islam, UCL

57. Sabrina Pulcyn, UCL

In Solidarity

1. Gordon Maloney, President of NUS Scotland

2. Molly Cooper, Unison Service Group

3. Paul Gready, Director, CAHR University of York

4. Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia, Director of the UCL Institute for Human Rights

5. Hannah Webb, UCLU External Affairs and Campaigns Officer

6. Sam Dathi, solicitor and LLM Human Rights Law SOAS

7. Jongduk Jung, Msc International Public Policy, UCL

8. Guy Aitchison, Political Science PhD (c), Teaching Assistant, MA Human Rights, UCL

9. Harkirit Boparai, University of York

10. Olivia Chatfield, YMCA George Williams College

11. Makoto Kawaguchi, King’s College London

12. Aaro Häkkinen, University of Helsinki

13. Emma Åman, University of Helsinki

14. Maria Talvela, University of Helsinki

15. Abisola Barber, UCL

16. David Elliott, University of York

17. Hanna Moy, University of Amsterdam

18. Sarah Watson, University of Amsterdam

19. Alexander Partridge, UCL

20. Tom Dillon, UCL

21. Yassin Benserghin, UCL

22. Matthew Burnett-Stuart, MA Human Rights Law SOAS

23. Paolo Morini, PhD(c), UCL School of Public Policy

24. Shilpa Jindia, openDemocracy

25. James Woollard, UCL

26. Florence Lucy Hodgson, Ruskin College, Oxford

27. Ceri Gibbons, Birkbeck

28. Anne Morley Butler, University of Freiburg

29. James Arnold, PhD Candidate in Philosophy, KCL

30. Chris Little, School of Public Policy, UCL (Alumnus)

31. Khalid Omar, SOAS

32. David Krivanek, LSE

33. Rana Nessim, openDemocracy

34. Tom Cowan, openDemocracy

35. Laura O’Shea, University of York

36. Thomas Rutter

37. Tim Jeeves, Lancaster University

38. Matthew Evans, University of York

39. Sarah Jilani, University of Oxford

40. Jimmy Packham,  University of Bristol

41. Patricia Bartley, University of York

42. Louise Livesey, Programme Co-ordinator & Tutor, Ruskin College Oxford

43. Matthew Corr, University of Cambridge and Royal Holloway

44. Joshua Hardie

45. Simina Ghit, Sciences Po

46. Anna Bernard, Lecturer, Kings College London

47. Saara Manelius, University of Turku, Finland

48. Nell Beecham, PhD candidate, London School of Economics

49. Scott Halliday, University of York

50. Verity McCrum, UCL

51. Mollie Liesner, University of Cambridge

52. Emily Shepherd, Plymouth College of Art

53. Marta Ghittoni, University of York

54. Laura Kumpuniemi, University of York

55. José Antonio Gutiérrez, University College Dublin

56. Catrin Wayland, University of York

57. William Segal, University of Plymouth

58. Ammie El-Atar, Birkbeck College

59. Eppie Leishman, University of York

60. Achim Wolf, PhD, University of Oxford

61. Jolijn van Hal, UCL

62. Daniel Gjokjeski, UCL

63. Eddie Jacobs, UCL

64. Rafi Latif, UCL

65.  Kris Tina, UCL

66. Liisi Hakalisto, University of Aberdeen

67. Jorge Abraham del Valle Márguez, UCL alumnus

68. Alison Benson, Staffordshire Univeristy, UCL alumna

69. Charlotte Goodhart, UCL

70. Sabbir Malik, UCL

71. Catherine O’Riordan, UCL

72. Eloise Hammond, UCL School of Humanities & Social Science (Alumni)

73. Bob Hughes, University of York student alumna and ex Union Officer

74. Miranda Fay Thomas, Kings College London

75. Georgia Horgan, Glasgow School of Art

76. Kallum Taylor, President of YUSU (York University Students’ Union)

77.Edward Greenwood, University of York

78. Jemima Busby, University of York

79. Anna Harding, UCL

80. Emma Loft, University of York

81. Laura Griffin, University of York

82. Lauren Cowling, University of York

83. Elvin S. Vural, MSc, University College London

84. Kristina Lunz, UCL

85. Indrani Sigamany, Centre for Applied Human Rights, University of York

86. Elizabeth Heckenberg, Swinburne University of Technology

87. Kathryn Wood, UCL

88. Alessandra Berti, University of Bristol Students’ Union

89. George Lane, University of York

90. Shadreck Mwale, University of Sussex

91. Thom May, University of Cambridge

92. Sarah Barker, University of York Graduate

93. Emily Moore, Birkbeck, University Of London

94. Mariel Stringer-Fehlow, BPP Law School

95. Jen Wilkins, UCL

96. Daniel Jacob, UCL

97. Lotte van Buuren, UCL

98. Fiona McCabe, UCL

99. Vanessa Sanda Van-Dunem, UCL

100. Nathalie Dijkman, MSc Human Rights, LSE

101. Sam Maguire, University of York

102. Niheer Dasandi, Dept. Political Science, UCL

103.George Evans, Kings College London

104. Kenta Sekine, Goldsmiths UoL

105. Elisabeth Davies, University of York

106. Malte Werner, MSc Human Rights, LSE

107. Emma Langley, Birkbeck

108. Thomas Ron, University of York

109. Alex Bennett, University of York

110. Max Benwell, City University, University of London

111. Natasha Mavronicola, PhD University of Cambridge and Lecturer in Law at Queen’s University Belfast

112. Jamie Chatfield, University of York

113. Andreas Gabrielsen, SOAS

114. Michael Wilkins, University of York

115. Sybil Wood

116. Marit Erdal, University of York

117. Victoria West, University of Newcastle upon Tyne

118. Clare Duffy, MSc Human Rights, LSE

119. Zara Daswani, University of York

120. Tony Brown, Branch Secretary, UCL University and College Union

121. Mark Rowland, University of London graduate

122. Christine Saunders, University of York

123. Rosie Simsek, University of the Arts London

124. Jassi Sandhar, LLM Human Rights, Birkbeck College

125. Nicholas Bishop, SOAS

126. Marta Owczarek, MA Gender Studies, UCL

127. Kelly McBride, President, University of Sussex Students’ Union

129.Eija Tanninen, Finland

130. Annamari Oittinen, University of Helsinki, Finland

131. Alistair Woods, UCL

132. Laetitia Sanchex Incera, UCL

133. Nathalie Galfrascoli, UCL

134. Eleanor Farrow, University of York

135. Dorothea Ross, University of Aberdeen

136. Giulia Cibotti, SOAS

137. Jacob Bates-Firth, Goldsmiths

138. Emily Holliday, Operations Officer, University of Sussex Students’ Union

140. David Watt, SOAS

(If you wish to add your name, please let us know in the comment boxes below)

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53 thoughts on “An Open Letter from Human Rights students to the University of London

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