Tuesday, 24 February 2009

First Statement from University

24 hours in and we have our first response to our demands from the university management. We're having a meeting tonight to discuss our next course of action. Until then, I'll just post the letter we received from the Dean of Students on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor.

The Dean of Students, Dr Anita Jellings, met with Adam Whittaker from the Solidarity with Gaza group, on Tuesday 24 February, at the request of the group. Students' Union Vice President Alison Smith was also present.

Adam outlined the aims of the protest.

The following is a summary of the informal response from the Dean of Students:

The University of Plymouth upholds the principle that there should be freedom to express any view, as long as the pursuance of such freedoms remains within the law and university policy. The university will not take any disciplinary measures against any student protesters whilst they also uphold that principle.

The academic freedom that everyone in the university community enjoys is contingent on adherence to neutrality on political issues by the university, and the university does not make political statements on any issue.

The university is currently developing an ethical investment policy and exploring its procurement approach through its Sustainability Group, on which the Students' Union is represented as a full member. The Solidarity with Gaza group is advised to direct its aims related to investment and procurement through that representational route.

The university will liaise with other Higher Education Institutions in the UK to contribute to a co-ordinated response to the request for surplus educational resources to be provided to the University of Gaza.

The university will consider the request to provide a number of scholarships for students from Gaza University to study at the University of Plymouth, through the group responsible for the provision of scholarships.

The university requests the Solidarity with Gaza group to end its sit-in protest peacefully, and will update the group on progress with the actions proposed through liaison between the Dean of Students, Students' Union Vice President Alison Smith, and Adam Whittaker.

Needless to say, we're not happy about the vagueness of this response. We'll post an update once we've had a chance to hear how everyone feels about the situation later tonight.

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