The University of London declared restrictions on protests on its campus, following the prosecution of a student protesting in support of outsource University workers as part of the 3Cosas campaign.
A letter sent by the University’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris Cobb, to University of London Union (ULU) president Michael Chessum stated that management is “no longer willing to tolerate demonstrations” on parts of its campus, including Senate House, the administrative centre of the University.
The letter continued that if these restrictions were ignored, the university would consider protesters to be trespassing and take “necessary legal measures to prevent and prosecute such trespass”.
It also claimed that 3Cosas protests, which call for pensions, sick and holiday pay for outsourced staff on the same terms as directly employed staff, intimidated and frustrated students, staff and visitors using Senate House.
The warning was sent following police officers being called onto campus after a University of London student wrote “sick pay, holidays, pensions now” in chalk on the Senate House foundation stone.
Police arrested the student on one charge of criminal damage and two of assaulting a police officer on 16th July.
In a preliminary hearing at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court last month, the 24-year-old denied causing criminal damage in excess of £600. She also denied assaulting an officer inside ULU and another on Malet Street.
The maximum penalty for assaulting an officer is six months’ imprisonment, whilst the maximum penalty for criminal damage in this case is three months’ imprisonment.
The student represented herself at the hearing, claiming that her legal aid had not come through in time. Outside the court demonstrators protested the charges.
Daniel Cooper, ULU’s vice- president, claimed that there were around forty demonstrators. Following the proceedings, he said: “I am disappointed the case wasn’t thrown out, but it was expected”. He also reiterated ULU’s earlier stance that “the university must issue an apology, and intervene with the authorities”.
ULU described her arrest as “a disgrace”. It added: “Chalk can be washed off – that is the whole point of chalk”.
Following the hearing, the student was granted bail and will face trial on 17th October at Tottenham Magistrates’ Court.
Adrian Polglase, London Student: Issue 1 (16/09/2013)