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Photos from the Appeal protest (June 22)

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.

Demonstration outside the appeal tomorrow!

Owen’s appeal begins at 10am tomorrow. Join us at 9.30am outside Great St. Mary’s Church to march to the University Centre, where we will silently show our solidarity with him outside the appeal.  Supporters from outside Cambridge especially welcome. Bring banners, bring friends, bring yourselves!

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GREAT ST. MARY’S, CAMBRIDGE –  9.30am June 22
http://www.facebook.com/events/235921013194481/235942106525705

Last term, a PhD student, Owen Holland, was rusticated for 2 and ½ years for his role in a peaceful demonstration against David Willets in November 2011. This exemplary sentence caused outrage among students and academics. Owen will be appealing before the Septemviri (University Appeals Court) in the University Centre (near Mill Pond) on FRIDAY 22ND JUNE at 10am.

At the last CUSU council, a motion was passed backing a demonstration against Owen’s sentence in the event of his appeal, and supporting the Reinstate Owen Holland Campaign, which is also backed by GU, Cambridge UCU and NUS. We are calling for as many people as possible to assemble at Great St. Mary’s Church at 9.30am to demonstrate our solidarity with Owen.

Why you should come along:

1. We believe that it is fundamentally wrong to single out one student for what was clearly the actions of many. A “Spartacus letter” signed by junior and senior members of the University and submitted to the University Advocate, shows that if there is any culpability for the disruption, it should not, and must not, be placed on the shoulders of one individual (http://tinyurl.com/cdkwvzg).

2. That this sentence amounts to an attack on the freedom to protest. Whilst opinions of the original action vary greatly among students and staff, we believe that it is possible to oppose this decision without endorsing the actions taken in November 2011. By setting a precedent of two and a half years rustication for any act the University deems to have impinged freedom of speech, this sentence sends a simple message – that if an individual steps out of line, the University has the power to ruin their career.

3 .Over 3,000 students signed a CUSU petition (http://tinyurl.com/d4j7v9r) calling for the charges to be dropped. A further online Petition (http://tinyurl.com/bwkbfot) condemning the sentence has gathered over 5,500 signatures, including those of Liam Burns (NUS President), John McDonnell (Labour MP), Michael Mansfield QC, Professor Terry Eagleton, the author Tariq Ali, and many other notable and respected figures.

Bring banners, bring friends, bring yourselves!

Messages of Support

We’ve received a huge number of messages from individuals and organisations across the country expressing solidarity with Owen for his appeal on Friday. We’ve published a few of them below. Please feel free to add your support in the comments below, and thank you for your continued support!

“What has happened to Owen Holland is an outrage. It is a long fought for right of citizens to protest, and it is a key element of vigorous debate and a condition for a vibrant democracy, particularly in a university setting, for members of communities to be able to voice their opposition to policy, both Governmental and institutional. That is what is under attack here in the interests of representing and repackaging the University as a site passive in the face of, and thereby complicit in, Government education policy.”
– Tom Hickey, Chair, UCU Coordinating Committee, University of Brighton, National Executive Committee, UCU

“As an alumnus of the University (Emmanuel, 1988), I am shocked by the decision of the Court of Discipline in the case of Mr Owen Holland. He appears to have been singled out for victimisation after his part in a civilised protest against the visit of the current Minister of Education. The punishment imposed upon him is out of all proportion to the offence. The Cambridge I remember and respect did not engage in exemplary punishment of individuals and in the name of natural justice I would most strongly urge the Appeals Court to overturn this appalling decision.”

“I am registering my support for Owen Holland, who does not deserve to be singled out in this way, nor should anyone be punished for a civilised, peaceful protest with others against a government minister who appears to have a limited view of what higher education is. Surely the purpose of education is to question the world in which we live?”

“From myself, and from all of the academic staff at Fircroft College of Adult Education in Birmingham, we fully support your action, and fully support your right to take action.”

“This is outrageous! Whatever happened to speaking truth to power? And peacefully as well! I hope the University see the error of their ways.”

“I have followed this case with incredulity and disgust… The disciplinary action for a peaceful expression of opposition was inappropriate in the first place… This is unworthy of an institution that should recognise that students are entitled to hold their own views and indeed to be angered by the betrayal of a generation of students.”

“Support from the Chair of Warwickshire College. Good luck.”

“I wish you every luck with your appeal. Justice, I trust, will out.”

“Like hundreds of academics throughout the country we were shocked by the  severity of the suspension handed out to you by the Cambridge authorities  and offer our wholehearted support for you during tomorrow’s hearing”
– Jill and Peter Seddon, Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton

Sunday’s Punt Protest

Yesterday (Sunday 17 June), aka ‘Suicide Sunday’, the campaign to reinstate Owen – complete with musicians and banners – took to the River Cam to spread the message.

Come show solidarity with Owen at the demo outside his appeal this Friday (22 June)! http://www.facebook.com/events/235921013194481

Demonstration outside the appeal – June 22

Demonstration in solidarity with Owen Holland next Friday (22 June). Bring banners, bring friends, bring yourselves! Supporters from outside Cambridge especially welcome. Please share widely!

***

GREAT ST. MARY’S. 9.30am June 22 – we will be marching promptly to the venue of the appeal, the University Centre (near Mill Pond at the end of Mill Lane)
http://www.facebook.com/events/235921013194481/235942106525705

Last term, a PhD student, Owen Holland, was rusticated for 2 and ½ years for his role in a peaceful demonstration against David Willets in November 2011. This exemplary sentence caused outrage among students and academics. Owen will be appealing before the Septemviri (University Appeals Court) in the University Centre (near Mill Pond) on FRIDAY 22ND JUNE at 10am.

At the last CUSU council, a motion was passed backing a demonstration against Owen’s sentence in the event of his appeal, and supporting the Reinstate Owen Holland Campaign, which is also backed by GU, Cambridge UCU and NUS. We are calling for as many people as possible to assemble at Great St. Mary’s Church at 9.30am to demonstrate our solidarity with Owen.

Why you should come along:

1. We believe that it is fundamentally wrong to single out one student for what was clearly the actions of many. A “Spartacus letter” signed by junior and senior members of the University and submitted to the University Advocate, shows that if there is any culpability for the disruption, it should not, and must not, be placed on the shoulders of one individual (http://tinyurl.com/cdkwvzg).

2. That this sentence amounts to an attack on the freedom to protest. Whilst opinions of the original action vary greatly among students and staff, we believe that it is possible to oppose this decision without endorsing the actions taken in November 2011. By setting a precedent of two and a half years rustication for any act the University deems to have impinged freedom of speech, this sentence sends a simple message – that if an individual steps out of line, the University has the power to ruin their career.

3 .Over 3,000 students signed a CUSU petition (http://tinyurl.com/d4j7v9r) calling for the charges to be dropped. A further online Petition (http://tinyurl.com/bwkbfot) condemning the sentence has gathered over 5,500 signatures, including those of Liam Burns (NUS President), John McDonnell (Labour MP), Michael Mansfield QC, Professor Terry Eagleton, the author Tariq Ali, and many other notable and respected figures.

Bring banners, bring friends, bring yourselves!

Campaign meeting: Thursday 14 June 1pm, GU lounge

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…

If you can’t make it, make sure to join our mailing list to stay in the loop, and have a look at the What you can do page to see how else you can take part in the campaign.