The University of Manchester has a long history of respecting people’s rights to protest and facilitating safe protest and our commitment to freedom of speech is undiminished.
Since Thursday 5 November, however, Government legislation means that other than in limited circumstances gatherings of more than two people who don’t live together are illegal, and police are obligated to disperse these gatherings. As a result, the University cannot permit gatherings that extend beyond one household or two people on its premises.
We are grateful to GMP for the manner in which they handled a planned gathering by students and others for the purpose of protest on the Fallowfield campus on Thursday evening (12 November). Contrary to some reports on social media, Greater Manchester Police worked with the organisers to cancel the gathering and with University security to persuade students not to gather. The evening passed-off peacefully: no force was used, no fixed penalty notices were issued and nobody was arrested.
The University recognises that this is a difficult and challenging time for all students and is meeting with elected student representatives to discuss student concerns and how these can be addressed.