UoN threatens legal action over Palestine camp as 140 staff sign solidarity letter

People on grass with tents scattered around on grass at the University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus, with university's Advanced Manufacturing building visible in background on left and trees on right
The campsite is set on grounds just inside the entrance to the University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus -Credit:Nottingham Post

The University of Nottingham has threatened legal action against a student encampment on its grounds. Around two dozen tents were set up on land just inside the entrance to the UoN's Jubilee Campus on Friday, May 10, by an activist group called the Nottingham Encampment for the Liberation of Palestine (NCLP).

They are calling for the university to cut its ties with defence and security company BAE Systems, due to the company's reported involvement in the manufacture of arms used by the Israeli Defence Force in its bombing of Palestine. But on Wednesday, May 15, the university handed out letters detailing court proceedings which threatened eviction and bailiffs to the campers.

Encampment organisers say that the University has threatened them with £19,500 for legal fees despite the protest being peaceful. In the letters, reportedly left at the entrance to each tent, campers were requested to attend a hearing in Birmingham on Friday, May 17.

Now, 140 staff members have signed a letter supporting the camp. One, an X user called tomgk90, said: "Proud to be one of over 140 members of staff at University of Nottingham that has signed this letter supporting the NCLP in response to the utterly unnecessary legal action that the university has taken against them."

The letter said: "As members of staff at the University of Nottingham, we believe that the freedom to protest is essential to our democracy. The right to protest should be respected and protected, especially by institutions such as universities.

People sitting and standing on concrete at University of Nottingham, with bike sheds on left and Advanced Manufacturing building on right, listenng to a speaker
A rally attended by around 50 people was held at the campus on Saturday, May 18 -Credit:Nottingham Post

"The students are a credit to the university. They display the very principles that a university education should be working to instil in students: conscientiousness, passion, the active pursuit of social justice, the advancement of the human condition and a commitment to improving health and wellbeing of all people, wherever they are in the world.

"The students have created a friendly, welcoming space for all who visit. It is a diverse and inclusive group. During a vigil for the victims of the current invasion, Jewish students took part and led a prayer of remembrance. We see no reason why the students should be removed from the camp."

The encampment held a rally held on Saturday, May 18 to "recentere the focus on Palestine". It started with a chant, which addressed the legal action: "40,000 people dead and they're taking us to court instead."

Then speaker Leila said: "Today is about making sure that the university understand exactly why we're here. We're not here to cause disruption.

"We're not here to impact students' ability to study. We're here to very peacefully demand."

The campsite has now been in place for a week. On Sunday, May 12, a community BBQ was held with "all supportive members of the Nottingham community invited" to visit and enjoy food.

Leila said: "It's been stress for us. It's been really difficult, don't get me wrong but it's been something to celebrate seeing students coming together in their unity underneath one joint cause."

She added: "More than 35,000 people have now been killed in Palestine. There's an estimated 10,000 people still under the rubble. 78,000 people have been injured or disabled in some way.

"These are numbers that surpass the student population of this university alone and yet our university still refuses to even engage with us, let alone divest.

"These are not just statistics. These are not just numbers. They're not just another name to be added in the little plus at the end of a news article. These are human beings who all had dreams, hopes and aspirations which were taken away far too early."