Having said that there’s nothing interesting to be found in Senate agenda papers, we’ll immediately contradict ourselves by examining the proposed Revised Code of Practice on Protests, discussed by the Senate this week. Drafted by the Director of Strategic Planning and Governance, someone who certainly knows how to mediate at a protest (see our Court report from subtext 172), it’s due to come into force today, 1 February.
What will an official protest now look like? Let’s imagine you’re unhappy because you’ve discovered that someone you really don’t like is coming to campus in a few months time, and you’d like to organise a demonstration…
– Obviously you’ll need approval from a designated University officer.
– You need to appoint one (just one!) of your number as the principal organiser of the demo, who’ll take responsibility if things kick off. Nothing too scary – just be aware that failing to follow the rules could lead to ‘being subject to action under the relevant disciplinary regulations and, in serious cases, potential legal action.’
– It goes without saying that you’re going to need to submit a risk assessment. This will involve ‘responding to the reasonable requests of the Responsible Officer’ as well as providing details about the nature and theme of the event, including how you plan to use banners and megaphones, what route you’ll be taking and whether there’ll be any external speakers.
– We need to ensure your protest doesn’t cause any disruption! Nothing too onerous – we’d just like you to guarantee that students, staff and visitors can still move around freely, making sure events can continue unhindered and uninterrupted, ‘including excessive noise in or intruding into buildings.’
– In return, the university will endeavour to ensure the protest can go ahead, unless it would be unsafe (fair enough), be illegal (also fair enough), ‘present an unacceptable disruption to business’ (not so sure about that) or cost too much (definitely not sure about that!).
– Oh, and we need a week’s notice, in writing. Is that OK?
Will the new system be a success? Campus demo organisers are encouraged to share their experiences with subtext at the usual address.