By Paul Inglis, Glasgow University
Last year’s UCU strike saw a wave of sit-ins and occupations at campuses up and down the country, all in support of striking University staff. Stirling University was just like many others in this regard, with brave student activists taking action to help the workers win their demands. What sets Stirling apart from the rest, however, is the mean-spirited, heavy-handed response taken by university management against this act of protest.
For taking part in last year’s occupation, thirteen Stirling comrades have been hit with an 8-week suspension. This not only blocks students from attending classes and submitting university coursework externally, but, most cruelly of all, also evicts them from university accommodation. So we see here just how much Stirling University cares about its own students- Free expression is nominally encouraged, but if a student should express their support for the workers and stand up to management, the university response is simple and callous: Make them homeless, and make sure their grades take a hit too!
The bluntly political angle behind these suspensions becomes plain when it is considered that they were delivered on Wednesday the 19th of February- That is, the day before the beginning of the largest Higher Education strike the country has ever seen. Rather conveniently for management, the nature of the suspensions will completely prohibit the thirteen comrades, students known for their activism, from going anywhere near a picket or campus protest for the duration of the entire strike.
Make no mistake, this is nothing but a crass, cowardly attempt at punishing student-worker solidarity, and we cannot allow Stirling University management to carry it through. If they succeed, not only will our friends at Stirling suffer for their courage and dedication to the workers, but uni managements all over the country will be emboldened to crack down on their students in similar fashion.
In the days to come, we will be in discussion with the Stirling comrades, and with comrades at all the other striking universities, in order to come up with actions that we can do to fight the suspensions. In the meantime however, the Stirling Thirteen have written up a petition calling for an end to their suspension. Sign the petition, spread the word wherever you can and stay tuned for updates! We will not let our comrades at Stirling University down.
An injury to one is an injury to all! Justice for the Stirling Thirteen!
Get in touch with University of Stirling Solidarity Network here.