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Protesters Evicted From University of Sussex

Student protesters occupying buildings at the University of Sussex have been evicted.

Yesterday, 25 students were removed, with four being arrested.

Demonstrations organised by students protesting against privatisation of certain services at the University of Sussex had become increasingly violent in recent days.

It is believed that over one thousand students were involved with the campaign, which included the occupation of the upper levels of the Students’ Union building, to reverse the University’s decision to outsource services to private companies – which could result in the loss of 235 jobs within the campus workforce.

Despite the University’s efforts to find a resolution, the protesting had continued to gathered momentum.

 

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On Monday 25th March, Sussex police claimed the protest had caused “significant damage” to the Sussex House building and encountered physical resistance, including being pelted with coins, when they tried to enter. However, the protest returned to its peaceful state as the demonstrators returned to Bramber House, where the occupation began on the 7th February.

Following this incident, the University was granted an injunction to prevent further, supposedly violent, protests. This injunction gave Sussex legal authority to help tackle the protest.

John Duffy, registrar of the University, who was active in trying to find a resolution to the demonstrations, had emphasized that the injunction was only against violent protest and that the University would “continue to respect the wishes of our students freedom to demonstrate peacefully on our campus.”

The protesters had showed no signs of relenting, regardless of the injunction. Protest leaders, through group texting, had been organising the next demonstration, in direct retaliation to the injunction.

Students felt that the injunction was not a safety measure, but instead is also targeting peaceful demonstrations and would “prohibit all protest on campus”.

The University stressed that this is not the case,  “We have now embarked on this legal process to prevent a repetition of the type of violent protest we saw at Sussex House on Monday and to pave the way to ending the occupation so that we can restore our conference and teaching space in Bramber House to full use” concluded Duffy.

The campaign, titled “Sussex Against Privatisation” had gained notable supporters, including public intellectual Noam Chomsky, journalist Tariq Ali and most recently, the National Union of Students.

Elliott Stone

Image by Serena Patel

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