UEL cancels alternative G20 summit

‘Duty of care’ cited as university scraps event amid security concerns. Melanie Newman reports

March 30, 2009

The University of East London has withdrawn permission for an alternative G20 summit scheduled to be held on its campus on 1 April.

A UEL spokesman said: “As a university, we have a duty of care, and our primary responsibility is to maintain a safe and secure campus environment for staff, students and visitors.

“The alternative G20 summit was originally proposed as an academic forum for discussion and debate around global justice, and [UEL] would have been proud to support such an event.

“However, in recent days an alternative agenda has emerged, and the event has been linked to possible direct- action protests against the G20 Summit, which have been widely publicised in the media.”

After discussions on Friday with representatives of the event’s University and College Union organising committee, UEL “decided that the potential magnitude and associated risks had risen to unmanageable levels… We would be unable to accommodate an event of this nature in safety at such a sensitive time, and we advised the UCU committee accordingly.”

A UCU officer at UEL said: “The union had invited a number of academics, writers, trade unionists and activists to spark real debate around global justice – discussions unlikely to take place at the main G20 event... We wanted to provide a forum for debate about world crisis, hunger and conflict – and how we can tackle them in the interests of the majority of people.

“As academics proud of the radical and critical tradition held by many staff at UEL, we intended this to be an event of which the whole institution could be proud. UEL management has now refused access to its facilities and the local UCU committee regrets that the event cannot take place.

“The event was all about facilitating debate on the key issues we feel leaders at the G20 Summit should be addressing. It is a real shame that we will not now [have] these discussions.”


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