On 23 March, University of Glasgow Principal Anton Muscatelli announced an internal investigation, to be chaired by Rector Charles Kennedy, into the events surrounding the eviction of the Free Hetherington, which had happened the previous day. On 9 September, its findings were published. The following is the initial response of the Free Hetherington occupiers:
We welcome the Hetherington inquiry’s concession that the management of Glasgow University did not follow the proper channels, and had not exhausted all possibilities, when choosing to use physical force in removing students from the Hetherington Research Club. We are glad it recognises that Strathclyde Police were also acting beyond their competency. We note that five young people were arrested, and one was hospitalized, in contradiction to the Police and University’s statements on the day. We expect a formal apology to follow from both parties.
The context of the Hetherington protest must be mentioned: it was in response to an out and out attack on academic values, a subject Mr. Kennedy has been notably silent on. It is also notable that at no point did Mr. Kennedy visit the Hetherington, preferring to view the goings on from the University management suite, or London.
Charles Kennedy’s comments seem to be following David Cameron and the rest of his coalition partners in choosing to blame the messenger – the internet and modern media – rather than the real political causes of social disquiet. We note that the election that led to his Rectorship was carried out by an online ballot. Supporters of the Hetherington were responding however they could, in distressing circumstances and at short notice, to an unprovoked attack that they knew, at the time, to be illegitimate.
It is indeed a pity that none of those involved in the Free Hetherington felt comfortable contributing to the inquiry. This is in the context of continuing politically motivated prosecutions and dawn raids by Strathclyde Police, and the University’s decision to discipline students and staff for associated events.
Mr Kennedy would be better commenting on the fate of Glasgow University Union. Just this week it was announced that it is having 50% of its floor space ‘seized’ by management. Or better yet, he should speak to his friends in the Westminster Coalition. It is parceling up the NHS, and much of our society including higher education, to be sold to private companies. Mr Kennedy should look to the future, rather than scoring points from past events, before he and his party become an irrelevance.
- Glasgow University Guardian have published an article on the release of the inquiry: ‘Newall orders “opportunistic” removal operation, says Hetherington Inquiry’
- The Hetherington Inquiry has been published here: http://www.gla.ac.uk/students/news/headline_203796_en.html