The National Union of Students (NUS) today condemned the decision to suspend student Owen Holland for 2 and a half years for his involvement in a protest against Universities Minister David Willetts in November 2011.
Echoing calls by Cambridge University Students’ Union for the sentence to be quashed, NUS said that it was vital that the right to protest was defended at a time when government changes to public services were affecting so many people.
Liam Burns, NUS President, said:
“Peaceful protest is fundamental to any democratic nation and when no laws are broken there is no reason for such a disproportionate punishment.
“I’m sure Mr Willetts himself would agree that universities should be encouraging the voicing of critical opinions rather than attempting to silence them. The government's changes to higher education have been profound and no-one should be surprised that students will take issue with them.
“It’s clear that this decision does not reflect the wishes of the student body and has unfairly singled out an individual to make an example of.
“This outrageous sentence should be immediately reversed and the university should make it clear that it will not punish such peaceful protest in the future.”
NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.