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Kings College and Political Reaction: a primer

manos | 21.10.2003 10:27 | Education | Free Spaces | Repression | Cambridge

Some of you might have noticed that the Anti Capitalist Action (ACA) group is functional again . For the benefit of new Cambridge students, and the rest of the world it is worth reiterating how last year Kings College tried to kick them out, using bogus reason and a bogus process. This incident, that was qualified by some as a pure political trial, happened at the same time as Edward Said, the world renowned academic, was refused a honorary fellowship, apparently for being too vocal on issues surrounding the Middle East conflict.

To make a long story short, ACA was maintaining a squat on Castle hill that was used as a Social Center. A whole series of projects were going on, it was used by political groups to hold their meetings and was mostly populated and run by young people from the town of Cambridge.
The owner of the place, after having left the building boarded and unused for years, went to court to get an eviction order and then just took possession of the place Except for some chainsaw action, so far so good.

After this the owner went to Kings College, where some of the ACA people study, and asked them for money. A mockery of a trial was set up, where Kings college fined four people up to 1000 pounds and excluded them (I will not repeat the ridiculous Cambridge term for this) for up to two years. Furthermore they were required to leave Cambridge, although one of them is a Cambridge resident, and stated that any further trouble with the law would mean that they could never come back. The key documents are available online and contain the explanations that the students provided and the document drafted by the College to kick them out.
(Find them attached)

The students in Kings, generally a liberal bunch, were quite shocked about both the manner that the ACA lot were treated and the reasons for which they were being effectively expelled. KCSU, the student union, mobilized students to support those excluded. The senior common room was occupied and demonstrations were organized outside the council. At the same time the appeals process was started and a document was drafted in defense of the victimized students. The case was made that the whole process was biased, the college had overstepped its authority, and that all the situation was the result of political views that the people sitting on College council had. The document is well worth reading, it provides a thorough background and analysis of what happened and quite a few lines of defense. (Attached)

Surprisingly the appeals panel advised the college to drop all the penalties, and let the students back in. It went as far as saying that "in making their judgment, the Council were unduly influenced by information which was not strictly relevant to the case."

In their statement the college council spends as much time slagging off the appeal process as possible, but reluctantly accepts that the charges are dropped, and no penalties are imposed. Of course it did not shy away from asserting its all powerful role of moral police and states that "Students may consult with the Tutors and the Lay Dean at any time about the limits of acceptable conduct, and are expected to do so in cases of possible doubt." For some reason we all doubt that they will tell their Officer Training Corps boys not to go to war in Iraq, but this is another matter...

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