Last week I was involved in a protest against the inauguration of Princess Anne as the university chancellor, and more widely against the introduction of £9,000 per year fees for students from the rest of the UK. Quite aside from any political arguments, I think the whole affair highlighted the absurdity and hypocrisy of both university management and the police.
Princess Anne replaces her father, Prince Phillip, who has held the chancellorship for the last fifty years. There was meant to be an election, with all alumni eligible to both vote and propose candidates. But the university failed to properly inform them of this right, resulting in the uncontested installation of somebody who has little in common with those whom she 'represents'.
I have heard that Princess Anne cares deeply about education. If this were the case, she wouldn't have let the university close New College over the weekend and on Monday, frustrating many students working on dissertations and essays and causing several classes to be moved to the far end of George Street. It turns out that the university may never have even been planning on using New College; the event was moved to Old College, citing 'technical difficulties', but I have heard that some attending knew about this the week before the closure.
So we ended up outside Old College, making some noise and engaging in a slow dance with the police, who switched off traffic lights in the name of 'safety' and blocked the pavement with metal barriers to 'make it easier for pedestrians to get past'. Their feeble claims to be 'facilitating protest' have never sounded so hollow. The attitude from the both the university and the police is the same: they expect us to do what we're told without questioning whether or not it makes sense. We need to wake up, stop mindlessly obeying orders, and start to think for ourselves again.
Joe Dewhurst is a member of the Edinburgh University Anarchist Society and is affiliated with the Edinburgh Anti-Cuts Coalition.