Liverpool Uni vice-chancellor asks Palestine protestors for ‘respect’ during exam period

‘We are a city centre campus and it is exam time – respect for others is non-negotiable’

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In an statement released to staff members and students at the University of Liverpool last week, Professor Richard Black called for “respect, tolerance and compassion for others” from student demonstrators protesting against the Israeli occupation of Gaza during the Semester Two exam period.

Last week, student protests in the Brett Building and Sydney Jones library foyer saw a group of Pro-Palestine demonstrators blocking both the entrance to both areas in an attempt to speak to vice chancellor Tim Jones, and secure negotiations with UoL’s senior management team.

Following this, Professor Black’s statement addressed he “unimaginable suffering” of Palestinians inhabiting the country during the conflict, expressing his own feeling of “utter horror” at the events currently unfolding in the West Asian region.

The statement continues to emphasise that “respect for others is non-negotiable” during exam season, as their main priority is “to foster a welcoming and inclusive culture on campus,”.

This comes following the occupation of the Sydney Jones library last Wednesday, in which video footage showed a group of demonstrators holding banners and Palestinian flags being denied access to the Brett Building. They were later moved by security into the library foyer, where further disruption was caused to students who were studying for their final examinations of the semester.

The deputy vice chancellor called for “respect, courtesy and mutual understanding” at an important period of the academic year, asking students to reconsider their behaviour during exam season. The email read: “We are a city centre campus and it is exam time – respect for others is non-negotiable.”.

This encampment in solidarity with Palestine, and in direct protest of the university’s economic stance amid the situation in Gaza is not the first to be erected on campus grounds across the UK. Similar encampment situations have taken place in Cambridge, York, Lancaster, Oxford, and Newcastle – as well as other surrounding university cities.

Embedded within his praise of the “largely peaceful response” received by fellow staff members and students, the deputy vice chancellor also addressed some “concerning incidents” of the misuse of free speech on campus. This comes after footage of a Liverpool student purposefully waking up protestors at the encampment whilst playing Rule! Britannia on a speaker was shared online.

Outlining the means of support to refugees and scholars in Gaza, the statement explains how the institution currently offers undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships, as well as being a member of CARA (the Council for At-Risk Academics). Professor Richard continued to explain that the organisation is “exploring Palestine-specific scholarships and partnerships” to aid those in conflict-affected areas, and that “refugee and asylum seeker students can also receive bespoke advice and guidance through our disrupted education programme,”.

The Ethical Investment Policy of 2018 is also addressed in Richard Black’s pronouncement, assuring students that an annual review of the scheme results in UoL “investing funds on a socially responsible basis with due regard to environmental, social and governance issues,” with student committees in mind.

Featured image via Instagram @lvrpool_enc

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