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University of Birmingham students have paid a heavy price for their peaceful student protest
July 24, 2014
This year the university has collectively had us arrested three times, taken out an injunction banning us from occupational protest for a year, put us through a stressful nine-month-long disciplinary process,suspended us for two months, reinstated us briefly just to suspend us again only one month away from graduation.
Another student, Hattie Craig, has been given a six-month suspended sentence, meaning that if she breaks any university regulation between now and when she graduates she will immediately be suspended for six months. Publicly stating opposition to the actions of the University of Birmingham could end up with her being suspended on the basis that she brought the university into disrepute.
The University of Birmingham is trying to hide behind the quasi-legal process that it uses to conduct disciplinary actions. We were denied access to legal representation, despite us submitting multiple requests. The hearings were not held to any of the same evidential standards that would be required in a court: decisions were made on the balance of probabilities, and the outcomes shielded from scrutiny because the university does not allow recordings or take full notes.
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Students’ behavior is a clear sign that they know they’re getting a raw deal. They don’t verbalize it, say, ‘This is an injustice.’ They act on it. They run the halls. They smoke in school. They cut class.
After seven years, too frustrated and tired to teach anymore.
As I usually do during the first week of class, I had students turn in an information sheet with items such as how to contact them, prior experience in the subject, learning style, and any questions they had about the syllabus or me. Though the sheet did not solicit feedback on my reading, a few students commented (positively) on it and a much larger percentage than usual included comments on the sheet that were more “big picture,” more “why” than “how,” such as wanting to know what motivates my teaching and choice of field, or offering a bit more than usual about their own backgrounds and aspirations. Another student made it a point to find my office and stop by for a brief chat, which rarely happens on the first day. I have no hard proof, but I suspect that this opening day reading helped set a tone that encouraged this broader openness and that it will inspire me and my students to maintain that tone throughout the term.image via flickr:CC | seniwati