In defiance of an effective campus-wide ban on protest, members and supporters of the 3 Cosas – ‘Three Things’ – campaign headed to Senate House on Thursday October 24th to insist the University of London listen to their demand: “sick pay, holiday, pensions now!”
At approximately 1 PM, protesters gathered at the Russell Square gates. With the SOAS samba band, vuvuzelas and chants of “University of London, shame on you” the crowd of around 80 quickly established an energetic and noisy presence. Banners were unfurled and, after security refused to allow dissenting staff and students access to their own University campus, they took to the streets, marching around the Senate House. Local workers and tourists visiting the British Museum stopped to ask questions and photograph the march.
Despite efforts to contain them, around 50 students managed to gain access to Senate House campus to continue their protest. Keeping to their pledge to take “necessary legal measures” against protesters, the University of London shut down the building and called the police.
When the police arrived – several armed with tasers – they attempted to kettle the demonstration, protesters and SOAS students rushed to break the cordon. Having hastily constructed a makeshift barricade from temporary security barriers, headed to the SOAS steps.
University of London Union Vice President Daniel Lemberger Cooper addressed the crowd, saying: “What we saw today was an irreconcilable divide within the university between those students and staff who are fighting for humane working conditions … and members of senior management who invited cops on to our campus… This episode is yet another low point in the University’s continuing pattern of disgraceful behaviour’.