A university student has been punched in the face by a police officer during a protest about higher education at the University of London’s Senate House last night.
Several students were arrested, including King’s College London Students’ Union’s vice president for academic affairs, Areeb Ullah.
Six police vans arrived at 7.20pm after a group of approximately 60 students from various London colleges, including King’s, locked themselves in the building yesterday afternoon.
Rebecca Greenford, 19, a first-year philosophy student at Heythrop College who helped organise the protest, said: “I’m completely appalled by the level of police violence. Nothing excuses that behaviour.
“It’s absolutely horrible, no one should treat students like this. [The University of London] are meant to care about student welfare.”
The protest, which was organised entirely by word of mouth, was inspired by the industrial action taken this week by higher education staff.
Among other things, students wanted higher pay and better working conditions for outsourced cleaning staff.
The occupiers barricaded themselves into the corridor containing the office of vice-chancellor Sir Adrian Smith, whose door sign was defaced with the words “bastard-in-chief”.
Tee Jay, studying media production at the University of West London, claimed he was the one who was assaulted in the video.
Recounting his experience, he said: “I turned my back to [the police officer] to kind of walk away, he pushed, I kind of turned round to see who it was – why are you pushing me?”
When asked whether he would take action he added: “What can I do? Look how many of them there are. If I go up to that one officer they’d all just grab me again.”
During the demonstration, protesters were delivered a letter by the University of London’s chief operating officer and university secretary, Chris Cobb, threatening police action.
It read: “Please accept this as notice that if you do not leave the building peacefully within the next hour (by 6pm this evening) then I shall request our security staff to remove you, and to call upon the police for assistance if necessary.”
Responding to the clashes between students and police, the ULU officers said: “This evening, the University of London colluded once again with police to evict occupiers, in a violent attempt to harass and silence dissent on campus.
“Their actions are a disgrace, and show their disregard for both the welfare of their students and their own university community.”