Image Credit: Philip Allfrey via Wikimedia Commons

Somerville College responds to police launching drones on college grounds

Somerville College has released an official statement in response to police presence on site earlier today, reiterating their support for students’ right to protest. 

Thames Valley Police were seen launching a drone from Somerville College’s quad at approximately 12:30 pm today. The incident occurred after students staged a sit-in at the University offices this morning and attempted to occupy the first-floor offices. 

Somerville lies adjacent to Little Clarendon Street, with one entrance directly opposite the University administration buildings.  

A spokesperson for Somerville College confirmed that police submitted an ‘“ad hoc request” which had stressed the “need to maintain the safety of individuals in the nearby protests.”

A Somerville student was also reportedly “attacked” within the college grounds by the police after the drone was launched. The student involved had “their glasses broken” and “nose bloodied,” as pictured on OA4P’s Instagram page. 

In a social media post, OA4P attributed Somerville for “collaborat[ing]’ with the police” and questioned whether this was how the College treats its students.

Somerville explained that “police had no business to be on Somerville grounds” at this time and “at 13:30 we asked them to leave with immediate effect”. 

The Oxford Student has learned that Principal Jan Royall of Somerville College was not involved in the decision to allow police on college grounds. However, Somerville staff did allow Thames Valley Police to launch drones from the site. 

In their statement, Somerville explained: “We want to take this opportunity to reiterate that we support and respect the right of all our students to protest peacefully”.

Somerville also stated that Jan Royall, Somerville College’s Principal, has “invited” students “to discuss this issue and the wider protests with us should they wish”.

According to their social media post, OA4P sees the incident as further evidence of the police’s “violent crackdown” on student protestors this morning.

Somerville College’s JCR was one of the first across the University to post a public statement supporting OA4P’s liberated zone in solidarity with Gaza. On the 11th of May, they extended their “solidarity to Oxford Action for Palestine” and support of “the fight to end the University of Oxford’s complicity in Isreali genocide, occupation and Apartheid”.

Image Credit: Philip Allfrey via Wikimedia Commons

Image Description: Somerville College