It was announced earlier this term that Hillary Rodham Clinton was to be given an Hobart doctorate (for services to women, children and families) by Swansea University, and that the University's School of Law was to renamed in her honour. Staff, faculty, students and alumni found out at the same time that the media did, with no consultation with any of the above groups, the decision made and handed down by senior management. It was then announced, with only a few weeks notice that she would visit the university to collect the accolades in person.
Given Hilary's both in and out of office, from:
- Beginning her career as an anti-civil rights "Goldwater Girl"
- Her support for mass incarceration
- Opposition to gay rights, free healthcare and free education,
- Her support for war and intervention across the Middle East in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya
- Her ties to Wall Street and the Capitalist system
And her role in allowing Trump to be elected, students and staff were vocal in their opposition.
So after reaching out to other groups for support and solidarity, Swansea Socialist Students launched our fight back. We decided that a peaceful direct protest, as near as possible to the action, was the best course of action and that we needed to be loud and bold.
We put together tailored placards and a leaflet, and gathered away from the Campus because of reports of heavy security, at this point a group from Cardiff Socialist Students joined us.
Once we arrived and got our our material we where swamped by cameras and security, who throughout the course of our protest visited 7 times, each time a higher rank, with vague threats to our degrees and futures. We were photographed and interviewed by local and national press, and we spoke to dozens of passes by.
Overall we got a good reception from students and families (for some reason, possibly to boost attendance, there was an open day going on at the same time) and our leaflets, magazines,
badges and papers where in high demand.
While we were waiting for her to arrive (she was eventually nearly 2 hours late) we took the opportunity to let the Welsh political elite know our grievances with them as they arrived. From the cutter in chief, the leader of the city council, to our local MPs, AMs and even the First Minister, we told them how we felt about their cuts, their policies and their inaction to support Corbyn and his wave of popular working class policies.
Once she did arrive, she was taken in under heavy security, however we saw her and we know she heard us. Shouts of "Bernie would have won" as well as "warmonger" rang out and sent her on her way. Afterwards, we regrouped and decided our next big action would be a protest on Budget day, 22nd of November and that we would continue to build to improve our position on campus.
A few stayed behind and one of our members even managed to confront Hillary when she gave a few minutes to the amassed fans outside the great hall, by this time a few dozen.
A video of this has gained nearly 50,000 views on Facebook, another that was posted early on the day explaining our position, and showing security interference had got over 6,000 views and several helped our social media reach. Photos and videos made it onto local, regional, national and international news including MSN.com, the London Economic, BBC and American news outlets from across the political spectrum.
We are proud to have raised our banner high and to have gotten our message out. We plan to build on this success this year had when Hillary returns to give a lecture later in the year, we will be there again, showing that our university and its community are not at all represented by her or her political beliefs.
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