This afternoon around twenty students from the University of Manchester occupied the University's `Social Responsibility' offices on Oxford Road as part of a nationwide `Cops Off Campus Day' following disturbing events at the University of London this week.
This evening, the students released a statement explaining their actions…
"We believe everyone has the right to free and peaceful protest, and freedom from police brutality. We directly oppose the denial of these rights in recent events at University of London and in response to student protests across the country.
"We call upon the University of Manchester to give assurance that they will never allow police to interfere in peaceful student protest on campus. Even more importantly, they have a duty to take an explicit stand against all such behaviour.
"We believe there should be a student-led enquiry into the recent assault by police officers on peaceful student protesters in London!"
The statement added: "This is one part of a larger fight against university and government collusion in a privatisation and austerity agenda, in education as in general. As such:
- We stand against the privatisation of student debt.
- We stand against staff pay cuts, and in solidarity with recent strikes from university staff.
-We believe that education is a public good and should be free to all
- We demand that University of Manchester stop course closures, such as the closure of Manchester's unique Learning Disabilities Studies degree.
- We further demand that the university stop using zero hour contracts and pay all their staff at least a living wage.
It is up to all of us, staff, students, universities, and workers to organise together. No privatisation! No austerity! No brutality!"
The students were joined in the occupation by people from Salford's Barton Moss Community Protection Camp, which has had its own problems with Greater Manchester Police this week, with five arrests during a peaceful blockade of lorries delivering to the IGas drilling site, and accusations of the force being "aggressive" and "out of control" (see previous Salford Star article and video footage – click here).
Throughout the evening students were standing outside the occupied building showing support for those inside.
* Main photo shows Barton Moss protectors and students inside the building, shot through the window…