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Sussex University in New Year witch-hunt

Sussex Students Solidarity Committee | 06.01.2007 11:01 | Education | Repression | South Coast

The University of Sussex has threatened several students with disciplinary proceedings and legal action after 80 students staged an occupation of the university's library last November, in protest at cuts in resources and teaching time.

The threats were made in a letter sent to the students over the Christmas break in which they are accused of breaking the terms of an injunction obtained by the university in an attempt to criminalise the demonstration. In the letter, university management claim they are seeking to recover the costs of the injunction and other measures taken by the university in response to the protest.

One student who took part in the demonstration said, "This is a blatant attempt to deflect the demands of the demonstration by launching a witch-hunt against individual students. Management should accept that the occupation happened and move on instead of wasting more university funds on political point-scoring, not to mention the stress caused to the students concerned, many of whom have assessments coming up in the next few weeks. We should be spending the New Year studying instead of worrying about being sued by our own university."

The demonstration, which organisers announced in advance as a peaceful demonstration, had demanded longer library opening hours, more contact hours with lecturers, better pay and conditions for university staff and an end to the Sussex Vice-Chancellor's support for top-up fees. The occupation came after many years of campaigning by students along similar lines, notably against the threatened closure of the university's Chemistry department last Spring. In response, university management have further angered the students by spending up to £20,000 in overtime and legal costs in what students say is a profligate attempt to discredit the protest.

One student who received the letter remarked, "When I opened the University of Sussex envelope I was expecting to read 'Merry Christmas.' Instead I got 'See you in court.'"

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The Injunction

28.01.2007 13:11

Here is PDF of the injunction mentioned in the article.

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The Letter

28.01.2007 13:12

Here is a PDF of the letter sent to fifty students.

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Letter from occupiers to library staff

31.01.2007 12:54

This is a letter which was sent to library staff by the occupation organisers in advance of the occupation.

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