The University of Essex are handing out free cupcakes on campus this week… but you must register to vote first.
For the University of Essex, it has been an important part of their culture, to stay up to date with both social and political events.
A clear example of this was in the late 60’s, where there was a lot of student unrest and protest and Essex had the biggest voice of all. The university at this point was becoming infamous for the amount of student rebellions that were happening on campus.
In 1968, the controversial Conservative MP, Enoch Powell was to visit the university, seven students were due to have disciplinary meetings but the student protest sit-ins allowed these meetings to be annulled.
Just a couple of months later, another scheduled visit by Dr Thomas Inch, who was from the Porton Down biological welfare research facility, was interrupted by around one hundred protesters, including David Triesman, now known as Lord Triesman, speaking over Inch as he tried to give a talk. The university called the police, however nobody got arrested as the amount of students outnumbered the police.
In 1984 and 1989 there were two cases of protests against changes in student grants. In 1984 the Conservative Education Secretary Keith Joseph abandons plans for parents to be made to contribute to tuition fees.
Then in 1989 the Conservatives freeze student grants and introduced student loans. It was brought forward that grants up to £2,265 will stay available for students who were poorer, but loans of up to £420 became on offer to all students.
Three students were then ordered off of the campus and suspended, just three days later, students picketed all entrances to the university whilst distributing leaflets. After a few more days there was a meeting where almost all of the student population agreed to boycott all university participation, putting a free university in its place; however this did not continue long, as after a week the three students were reinstated.
The university has seemed to de-radicalise over the years compared to how it has been however there has been a few sparks of protests now and then.
A third year politics student, Sam French, 23, who has been actively involved over the 5 years he has been at the university, said ‘The NUS have taken a back step recently,’ and continued ‘Protesting isn’t dead at Essex at all.’
In February 2013, there was planning for the Israeli Deputy Ambassador to visit the University, to give a talk to some students; however this was cancelled after some students found out and managed to blockade the entrances to the building, and some even made their way inside. Again there was speak about some students having disciplinary action against them, yet nothing arose.
In April last year, a protest happened on one of the squares, called a ‘die-in’, where about 40 students laid on the floor pretending to be dead. This protest was about giving solidarity to the migrants, organised by French himself he stated, ‘Europe has a horrendous stance on the migrant crisis’.
The Students Union used to frequently send people to marches but French explained, ‘The SU has stopped funding this.’