Dear Professor Alison Richard,
I am writing to express my disgust at the heavy-handed approach of the University of Cambridge authorities in responding to those students who have decided to take action for Palestine through the non-violent, non-disruptive occupation of university premises. As an established academic institution, one would hope that the University of Cambridge would understand this sort of peaceful action within the context of the vibrant history of effective student activism, and that of the general outrage with which public sentiment at the recent atrocities in Gaza has been characterised.
The recent wave of UK student occupations in solidarity with Gaza, of which the Cambridge occupation is one of the latest, has resulted in many universities engaging in productive dialogue with their students to find ways in which they may use their privileged institutional position to provide help to Palestinian victims of the Israeli occupation. That its students are sufficiently compassionate and engaged to interrupt their own lives in order to speak out in solidarity with the victims of violence and oppression is something to be celebrated by the University of Cambridge, and their willingness to work together with the university administration to help it achieve practical aid and support for Palestinians something to be exploited. The occupation has been carried out in a manner that has been measured, reasonable, and peaceful. The way that it has been dealt with by the university has been tyrannical, oppressive and dishonouring to the tradition of intellectual and expressive freedom for which the University of Cambridge is esteemed.
We hope that you will reconsider your tactics and think about how best to take advantage of the passion and commitment which the students of the occupation have shown.