On March 14th, the University of Cambridge Court of Discipline ruled to suspend Owen Holland, a PhD candidate, for two-and-a-half years.
His punishment, which was apparently much greater than the prosecutor initially recommended, was for reading out a poem to protest the imposition of higher tuition fees during a speech being given by David Willetts on the same issue in November 2011.
Sixty of the other students and faculty members who also recited the poem at the time have written a letter demanding they be similarly disciplined.
Suspended from doctoral research for seven terms, for peacefully disrupting the education minister’s speech, in collective verse. Regardless of what you think of the poem or the tactic, the university’s heavy-handed institutional discipline is yet another indication of the closing of possibilities for creative civil disobedience in this society.