Septemviri imposes one-term suspension
Owen Holland’s appeal before Cambridge University’s special appeals court, the Septemviri, took place earlier today. The original seven-term suspension was reduced to a single term, effective until January 2013. Protesters gathered outside to show their support for Owen, and sat in to listen to the hearing.
The University’s failure to overturn the sentence leaves staff and students deeply disappointed. The Septemviri justified the reduction of the sentence with a desire to be ‘merciful’, while adding menacingly that they may not be so generous in the future. There should be no punishment at all for peaceful political protest, and the precedent set by Owen’s suspension is a very real threat to the freedom of expression within the University.
Nonetheless, the fact that the University has been pressured into moderating the sentence shows the power of protest and solidarity. Our message to the University is that the fight is not over. We will continue to defend the right to protest and to fight for free education. This attempt to intimidate and silence students will not succeed.