Approximately two hundred and fifty Cambridge academics gathered outside Senate House yesterday to protest against the Government cuts in higher education spending, and the rise in tuition fees.
The academics, all members of Cambridge University’s voting body of dons, came dressed in their gowns to stand in silent protest at noon on Monday, January 17th. Despite drenching January rain, the silent protest attracted considerable attention in central Cambridge.
Among those at the protest were the Astronomer Royal and Master of Trinity College Lord Rees, and the brilliant modernist poet Jeremy Prinn, as well as many other distinguished people from arts, humanities and science subjects, most of whom rarely attend demonstrations.
The silent protest is just the latest in a series of very unusual events which have
been taking place in Cambridge, many of them centred on Senate House, where the University’s academic members meet to vote on key decisions. In contradiction to the claims that student protests are 1968-style youth anarchism, the Cambridge student occuption of Senate House was both entirely peaceful and was powerfully defended by many academics as a necessary means of calling attention to the threat to the universities. Representatives of Cambridge residents’ groups opposed to the Coalition cuts also met with the student occupiers in Senate House before Christmas to express their support and discuss joint concerns.