Stirling Labour strongly condemns the actions of the University of Stirling recently in suspending 13 students for protesting in support of industrial action being carried out by the University and College Union (UCU). We are stunned by the strength of their over-reaction to events that are similar in nature to events on University Campuses throughout Scotland and the UK.
The “Stirling 13” have been suspended for eight weeks each, including several Labour members. This suspension puts at risk their academic studies as they are not allowed to submit coursework during this period, in some cases risking their degrees. They are barred from Campus in addition. While we welcome the latest news that affected students living in University accommodation are not now to be evicted from their living space, we are disappointed that this was even a possibility in the first place. We now urge the University management to reconsider the remainder of these excessive sanctions.
We see this as a huge over-reaction by University management in the face of a peaceful student protest, in which by all accounts, no damage was done. Nor does it does sit well with the traditional reputation of Scottish Universities as centres of free speech and peaceful protest. It is especially disappointing in light of close links between our party and the University, with many Alumni contributing significantly to local and national political life; including Lord McConnell, Mike Connerty, Richard Leonard MSP, Cllr Danny Gibson, and Provost Christine Simpson to name a few.
If Stirling University wishes to salvage its reputation on this, it should start by reconsidering these decisions.