Student protestor attacked by his own union president
By Simon Furse and Edd Bauer
Mark Harrop, the Tory president of the University Of Birmingham Guild Of Students (student union), has Colluded with the University management to try and suppress a peaceful protest. Harrop identified one of his own students for disciplinary action and helped the university in the deployment of an injunction that was condemned by amnesty international and other human rights groups. Knowing that this would not be accepted by the student body Harrop lied about, misrepresented or neglected to mention how he was acting.
Mark Harrop arrived at the occupation that took place on the 23rd of November pretending to be looking after the students human rights when in fact he was taking down names that he could later pass on to the university. He is now the most important prosecution witness in the case against the only student in the country to be disciplined following the wave of occupations. His testimony even goes beyond a simple eyewitness account as he speculates negatively about the involved student’s integrity and character. Because of his actions the disciplinary of the involved student, Simon Furse, has progressed to the stage where he is facing expulsion from the university.
Harrop was briefed about the injunction, by university senior managers, before it was delivered to the occupiers. Knowing the University was preparing to remove the protesters, possibly by force, if they did not comply with the injunction, Harrop’s concern when being called to scene was not with the students but that if he didn’t keep his distance they might become “suspicious.” He then refused to condemn or even tell students about the existence of the injunction until over two weeks later when he was forced too by political pressure and the condemnations of human rights organizations. This complacency could easily have put students at the university in danger of prosecution.
The full referenced story of this can be found here
Unfortunately action that puts the interests of the University and Harrop himself over the interests of students is not the exception but the rule of Harrop’s presidency so far. Earlier this year Harrop suspended Edd Bauer his VP Education. He suspended Edd without any vote in student council for his participation in a peaceful protest at the liberal democrat conference that unfortunately led to his arrest. This sparked mass protests on campus, objections from academics and sabbatical officers across the country. It even lead to a early day motion being put to parliament.
The right to protest and freedom of speech is under attack at the University of Birmingham. We have a long and proud history in this country of student protest. As students working in the education system we can’t go on strike. Instead we take our equivalent of a strike: we do sit-ins and occupations. We withdraw space because we can’t withdraw our labour. This has been a key feature of UK student activism for generations. In fact, at the University of Birmingham, all the student representation we have on university committees was won, in 1968, when 800 students occupied the Great Hall demanding a democratic voice.
Sadly it is now these same student representatives in conjunction with the university who seek to discipline students for taking part in sit-ins, suspend officers for unfurling banners off bridges and take out injunctions banning protests on campus.