Nigel Thrift was overheard calling Warwick For Free Education (WFFE) members “yobs”, at the end of the Warwick Protest Summit.
A video published by WFFE records Sir Nigel Thrift referring to members of the group as “yobs”.
In the video, the vice-chancellor, who still had his microphone switched on, commented: “This shows you what we’re dealing with. These are just yobs.”
The comment came as a response to chants from the audience, which were directed at Nigel Thrift himself.
Some students from the audience, allegedly members of WFFE, began chanting “348K Nigel Thrift go away” followed by “there are many, many, more of us than you,” over a megaphone.
Peter Dunn, director of press and policy at the University, suggested: “Some might argue that it is to be expected that the head of an organisation should take whatever is said to them and about them.”
Second-year English and Theatre undergraduate Danie Sharp thought that Nigel Thrift should not have made the comment. She stated: “We pay his wages, he should behave himself.”
Miguel Costa Matos, a third-year undergraduate and supporter of WFFE urged: “It was the police who acted as yobs on December 3 and, by backing them up, the University has revealed extremely poor judgement.
“We will work with others to continue to ensure that peaceful protest and demonstration are able to be facilitated on campus
Peter Dunn, director of press and policy
“How can they expect us to negotiate with them when they give us no grounds to trust them.”
Thrift personally attacked
However, Mr Dunn highlighted to the Boar that Nigel Thrift had personally been verbally attacked “both at work and at home”, in the weeks leading up to the Summit.
The vice-chancellor had allegedly been subjected to a series of intimidating attacks. Mr Dunn told the Boar that these included: “Being spat at, being confronted and shouted at aggressively by multiple people very close to his face, and being verbally abused late at night near his home when his family were in residence.
“A reference to him being killed was also uploaded onto a public website.”
Saveena Mangat, a seond-year Economics and Politics undergraduate, was disappointed by the actions of the students involved in these attacks. She commented: “This just shows how WFFE are losing their credibility by acting inappropriately – this behaviour is simply unacceptable!”
“WFFE are losing their credibility by acting inappropriately”
Saveena Mangat, second-year Economics and Politics student
A spokesperson from WFFE urged: We absolute refute these absurd claims and will not allow our protest to be delegitimised by them.”
In light of these recent attacks against Nigel Thrift, Mr Dunn commented: “The Vice-Chancellor’s brief verbal response to these acts at the end of the summit was a very human one, not least given the indications from at least one student member that their previous actions would continue unaffected by the discussions at the Summit.”
He continued: “We will work with others to continue to ensure that peaceful protest and demonstration are able to be facilitated on campus by responding to the suggestions that were made in response to the survey and at the Summit.”
WFFE deny aggressive behaviour towards Thrift
WFFE have responded to the allegation of aggressive behaviour, they stated: “This is the first time that Warwick for Free Education has been made fully aware of the spitting and death threat levelled at Nigel Thrift.”
“Despite Nigel’s bizarre requests that we attend his house for supper, we have no desire to go anywhere near his residence. We want to make it clear that these incidents have no links to WFFE in an official capacity and we in no way celebrate them.”
WFFE continued: “However, we feel that these revelations further highlight the widespread dissatisfaction and anger towards Nigel Thrift and his behaviour as VC, and would like to take this opportunity to remind people that these views have been held since long before the establishment of WFFE. Let us not forget that a historic Vote of No Confidence in Nigel Thrift was recently passed overwhelmingly through our highest available level of student democracy.”
We want to make it clear that these incidents have no links to WFFE in an official capacity
Spokesperson for WFFE
“Further to this, it would seem that university management are becoming more hypocritical day by day – during the summit Nigel Thrift called us ‘yobs’, compared us to ‘children’ and patronisingly dismissed our actions as having no value. Yet now, in what is clearly an act of desperation, they are attempting to paint us as a group of violent criminals who bully and intimidate on a daily basis.”
However, Mr Dunn urged: “Campaigns of targeted intimidation, which also affect many more people than the person directly targeted, should never be seen – and will never be seen – as acceptable.”