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.
We are now stepping up the campaign ahead of Owen’s appeal which has been set for June 22nd. Join us to discuss the next step! We are meeting on Thursday June 14th at 1pm in the Grad Union lounge (map and directions). We’ll be planning a demo, a campaign video, more stalls across campus and much much more…
A date has now been set for Owen Holland’s appeal. He will be appearing in front of the special court for appeals, the Septemviri, on June 22nd. Ahead of this we are launching a photo campaign to remind students, staff and the broader public of the deep injustice that was done by the Court of Discipline in finding him guilty. The rustication of Owen Holland raises issues not just about the freedom of discussion, dissent and protest within the University, but also about its flawed and arcane disciplinary system. This photo campaign sends a clear message to the University: Reinstate Owen Holland.
Join us by taking a picture of your own! Post it on Facebook and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org to appear on the website
Click here to see the photos people have had taken so far.
Cambridge University’s Disciplinary Court has sentenced a student with seven terms’ suspension for taking part in a collective peaceful action. Students were outraged by the University’s harsh punishment and have come out in overwhelming support of the student in question, Owen Holland. The sentence is considered grossly disproportionate, and the trial “arbitrary and unjust”, in the words of Students’ Union President Gerard Tully. Students are shocked not just by the decision to ruin an individual student’s career, but also by the precedent set: what does this mean for the future of peaceful protest and dissent within the University?
So far, students have demonstrated their support in several ways:
– Several JCRs and MCRs, among others at St Catharine’s, King’s, Queen’s, and Trinity Colleges, as well as the Graduate Union, have passed motions opposing the sentence and in support of the appeal
– The online petition ‘This is not justice’ has garnered just under 3000 signatures from within the University
– 400 students participated in a demonstration against the sentence at the end of Lent term, which ended in a vote of no confidence in the University
– Students staged a silent protest at the inauguration of the new Chancellor, against the new climate of repression within the University
Students will continue to show their support during the appeal process.