Student protestors interrupted the University Senate on November 1, 2023, with calls to “end graphene warfare.”
One student is heard saying “it should not be on students that [University] research is going to be employed on a genocide happening right now.”
The demonstrators were asked to leave the room, or the meeting would have to be abandoned, a member stated.
A member of the meeting then said “if we discuss this as an agenda item, will that be good for you?”, receiving a reply from one demonstrator: “I’ll accept that.”
Other students, staff, and members of the community, blockaded the building [John Owens], holding signs saying “Stop arming Israel!” and “University of Manchester racist against Palestinians.”
The group could also be heard chanting “Palestine will be free.”
The Senate makes recommendations to the University’s Board of Governors on the promotion of research, regulation and monitoring of standards in teaching, and the regulation of discipline of students.
Membership of the Senate includes: the President of the University, Vice-Presidents, Deans (and Vice) of Faculties and Heads of Schools, elected members of staff, chairs of school boards, and members of the Students’ Union Exec.
On the Instagram post, shared by both Manchester PSC and Youth Front For Palestine, the caption read “It is only the second week of action, and we have already won a victory and our demands are being heard. We will continue to fight until we win!”
This demonstration comes after a protest centred on the University’s connections to graphene research on October 25.
The Student Exec Team in the Students’ Union gave the following statement:
“In the last few weeks, we have spoken with SLT about how the university responds to student protest and activism on campus – yesterday was a step in the right direction. We were really pleased with how university staff listened to the students, and privately commended their bravery afterwards. The issue on which students were protesting was then added to the agenda of the meeting, at which point protesters left the room. After the protestors left, staff and SU officers continued to raise questions about research and ethical diligence to the Senate. Going forward, we’d like to understand what the university’s due diligence consists of and we will be asking that research ties and investment portfolio are made as open as possible. Yesterday was a positive improvement for student activists and for the university to exemplify improved responses to student action.”
“The Students’ Union can support student campaigns and activism. If you are interested in finding out how you can get involved in change making at the University of Manchester, visit manchesterstudentsunion.com/campaigns.”
In the StaffNet post ‘A clarification on current demonstrations’, the University has said:
We want to make it clear that The University of Manchester (including its graphene activities) has no involvement with the Israeli defence sector.
For clarification, in 2014 an early graphene manufacturing spinout called 2-D Tech was sold to a British company called Versarien.
In 2018, four years after the sale to Versarien, its then CEO, who has now left the company, announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The University of Manchester had no involvement in the MoU.
The full post can be read here.