‘Both sides were wrong. It’s more of the lesser evil’ – We spoke to the student involved in the lecture assault

An exclusive interview with The Tab Sussex

Last Thursday, protests on campus as a result of the UCU industrial action led to protesters disrupting a lecture, demanding that students "leave your lectures, join the strikes". An altercation took place, with allegations of one student assaulting a protester as they attempted to close lecture-hall doors. The Tab Sussex spoke to the student involved in this incident.

For the purpose of anonymity, real names have not been used.

Zed studies Cognitive Neuroscience, a difficult and time-consuming course. Some tutors decided to continue with lectures are scheduled, as strikes were not compulsory for tutors. He tells us: "We were in a Cognitive Psychology lecture on the treatment of OCD.

"Eventually we will be the people maintaining national sanity, either directly or indirectly and thats why we have to be adamant with our studies otherwise we will succumb to the difficulty of the course. "

During the lecture, protesters were marching on campus in order to support tutors who had decided to strike. Their chant as they marched was 'leave your lectures, join the strikes'. Zed tells us that "when we heard the chants, we thought the group would pass us. "

Instead of passing the lecture theatre and continuing with their march, "they slammed open the doors and began the most disrespectful interruption of our lecture". He tells us that they were "shouting and dancing about, screaming. The chants became so loud and disruptive we had to go close the doors such that our lecture could continue. "

One student, Chloe Morris, filmed an altercation between the protesters and this student as he, and another, attempted to close the doors, which can be seen below.

UCU protesters interrupt Psychology Lecture

UCU protesters interrupt Sussex Psychology Lecture. Chloe Morris told The Tab Sussex "There weren’t many people in my psychology lecture as many probably used the excuse of a strike to have some time off. However, those who did attend wanted to learn. I absolutely agree with the right to strike and respect the cause, but I felt that their interruption was very disruptive and did more harm than good." According to Sussex Supports The Strike, one of their marchers was 'assaulted by a student' when they disrupted a lecture on campus. 'The marcher in question was violently tackled into a wooden table by a larger student. University officials stood by and watched this assault that was only ended by the quick intervention of other marchers.'https://thetab.com/uk/sussex/2018/02/22/protesters-storm-sussex-uni-lecture-for-university-strikes-25400

Posted by The Tab Sussex on Thursday, February 22, 2018

Zed explains the confrontation. "I, and a woman, went to speak to the protesters to indicate no one wants their hooliganism. The poor woman was shoved and pulled by the force of those violently holding the doors open. This disrespect for this woman was where I drew my line."

As they attempted to close the doors, the woman "pleaded with them to let [them] close the doors, explaining 'we want no part of their misguided movement', but they kept on attacking us."

Allegations of assault have surfaced as a result of the incident, but the video makes deciphering the events difficult. Zed tells us, "I never shoved anyone. The dude and two other people pulled the door so violently that my body weight collided with him and destabilised him."

We asked Zed about his opinions of media coverage of the incident, and he told us "The media obviously has polarised some who read the article written about me." He also feels that media coverage has been "completely one sided and filled with white lies".

Zed urges protesters to think of "those who are absorbed by their love of the courses they study. This disruption to the smooth sailing of campus life is generating more enemies than sympathisers."

When asked about the response of students to the incident, he tells The Tab Sussex "I expected a split ….. about 50/50. But most of those I've talked to supported my action.

"I do think there was a little of an over reaction especially since the video went viral. I had no idea I was that shocking to watch. Finally I think passivity has gripped people. They have thoughts to express but somehow their tongues never speak."

Zed believes that "It's not a case of who is right vs who is wrong. Because both sides were wrong. It's more of the lesser evil. Uni is a place for education first and everything second, which is why I don't understand students who support the strike because it directly affects their education. "