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Student encampment on campus

Since Friday last week, the Palestine Solidarity Student Society has been staging a protest on the lawn outside the Templeman Library. This is to raise awareness of the continued war in Gaza and follows a number of similar encampments on University campuses across the world. I have visited the encampment on a couple of occasions and have had constructive and useful discussions with the organisers; I will provide a further more detailed update shortly on things the University will take forward as a result of that.

Supporting peaceful protest

As always, the University of Kent respects and supports our students’ right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech with the law. I would like to thank the students involved in organising the protest for the proactive way they have engaged with both Kent Union and our Campus Security team to ensure it is well-managed and that we maintain a safe and respectful environment for all of our students and staff at all times. This includes giving consideration to how to minimise disruption to our day-to-day activity and ensure students can prepare for and attend exams as normal.

The University also has a continued commitment to ensure our campus remains an inclusive, safe and welcoming environment for all. This is especially true at times of tension, when we work with our community to balance the critical importance of people being able to share their views free from censor, with allowing people space to disagree respectfully. It also goes without saying that freedom of speech has to be within the law, and we will never tolerate racism, harassment or abuse in any form.

Ethical Investment at Kent

The University has an established Socially Responsible Investment Policy that guides how and where we invest our money. As part of this, we do not, and will not, invest in companies whose major business is weapons and armament or who are complicit in the violation of international law. The policy also includes not investing in companies whose activities cover a range of other topics, including gambling, tobacco and fossil fuels among others. We believe our investments have a responsibility to match our priorities and values, and regularly review this to ensure we do not knowingly invest directly or indirectly with companies that run contrary to this.

Advice and Support

This continues to be a very upsetting for many in our community, while we also appreciate and understand that protests can themselves cause worry and concern.

If you are worried about the current situation, please get in touch with our Student Support and Wellbeing team who will advise you on support available to you – they are also running drop-in sessions for students where you can access support and advice directly. If you experience any discrimination, please use our Report + Support tool so that we can quickly connect you with appropriate support within the University. You can also download and use the SafeZone App, while Kent Union also have specific support and resources available to all students.

from Richard Reece, Deputy Vice Chancellor Education & Student Experience