University of Sheffield gets High Court ban on all protest action on campus

Occupiers in the Arts Tower
Protesters have gathered in Lecture Theatre 4 in the Arts Tower

The University of Sheffield has banned all on campus protest action, unless they have given permission beforehand.

The move comes as part of an injunction to evict protesters who are occupying the Arts Tower basement.

Occupation of the building began on November 30 when 100 protesters entered the building after a nationwide day of public sector strikes.

Despite the injunction being issued last night the protesters remain in Lecture 4 of the Arts Tower.

Occupiers said they are open to negotiations with the University but will not be “intimidated by threats of forcible eviction.

On Friday Forge Press revealed the University cancelled lectures on Thursday and Friday due to fears the occupation could grow in size.

As well as the size of the occupation the injunction has been granted because of fears of damage to the building, protesters acting aggrssively towards staff members and because it is believed some of the occupiers are not students at the University.

The injuction is taken out against “persons (including students of the University of Sheffield) entering or remaining upon the campus and buildings of the University of Sheffield for the purpose of protest action (without the consent of the University of Sheffield.)”

This bans all forms of protest action on any part of University owned property unless the University has approved the protest action.

Occupiers have called the move an “attack on the right to protest.”

In a statement posted on their website they said: “It is of course extremely unlikely that they would grant permission for any protest criticising the University over cuts, fees and education reform, hence this constitutes an effective ban on all protest at the University of which management does not approve.

“This will affect all groups and societies at the University, as well as lecturers and support staff picketing on days of strike action.”

Keith Lilley, the Director of Estates and Facilities Management at the University of Sheffield told the High Court Sheffield District Registry the protesters had no right to conduct a ‘sit-in’.

Last year protesters occupied the Richard Roberts building opposing any increase to tuition fees and a High Court injunction was granted to evict them.

The new injunction documents say the protest last year was allowed to last for longer because the protesters were “very well behaved.”

“This current protest is of an entirely different kind as the protesters are being aggressive, verbally abusing University staff and creating an intimidating atmosphere in the vicinity of the building,” said Lilley in evidential statements provided in the injunction by the court.

The document says South Yorkshire Police have commented that the protest is more aggressive than the one of last year.

In a statement on their website the occupiers said: “The occupation of the University of Sheffield is a peaceful and non-violent protest – we stand in solidarity with the trade unions and the millions of public sector workers who went on strike today.

“We do not seek to disrupt lectures! We call upon all lecturers and students to continue to go to their lectures as normal, regardless of other arrangement made by University authorities, since our presence seeks to facilitate education and engagement with student.”

Protesters have until Monday December 5 to appeal the decision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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