Glasgow University head jeered, booed and told to quit by own students

THE principal of Glasgow University was booed and jeered as he came face to face with hundreds of students demanding his resignation.

Anton Muscatelli told a mass meeting of his "regrets" at the use of police to evict campaigners from a vacant university building they had occupied for seven weeks.

Professor Muscatelli called officers to eject students from the Hetherington Research Club on Tuesday but the eviction turned into an ugly stand-off between the protesters and 80 officers, with students being dragged from the building.

After apologising and agreeing the police presence was "excessive and unnecessary", Mr Muscatelli had been pressured into meeting students in the university's Bute Hall.

Met with jeers and boos from the packed room, he denied that the senior management was responsible for the confrontation.

He said: "It was not us that ordered that level of police force. I want to make it clear we will always protect the rights of protesters at this university, we will always work with them to solve any grievances."

Around 500 students crowded into the university's Bute Hall for the meeting with Prof Muscatelli, chaired by university rector and former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.

Although the atmosphere at the meeting was volatile, with repeated calls made for the senior management and the principal to resign, Mr Kennedy's handling of questions and guarantees to students prevented any major outburst during the two-hour discussion.

Many of those present had taken part in Tuesday's demonstration at the university, seven weeks after a small group moved into the vacant Hetherington building to occupy it as their protest against higher education cuts. Students are continuing to occupy the building.

Repeated questions about the "heavy-handed" tactics used by the police were deflected by Mr Kennedy, who said those questions would be answered by the official inquiry and not in a "kangaroo court". He promised students would be part of a future inquiry.

Prof Muscatelli said of the incident: "There is considerable dismay about what happened.

"There have always been protests at this liberal university and I want to make sure the students are always allowed to have the freedom to do so."

However, the principal's words were met with laughter from his audience. A student, who declined to give her name, said: "The decision to bring in police so early on should be paid for with senior management jobs. The decision put students in danger, even passing students who were not involved."

Prof Muscatelli met calls for his resignation with the reply: "I'm not the kind of person to walk away from a problem."

The meeting ended to a short chorus of "Muscatelli, out, out, out" by students.

A member of the Hetherington occupation, Iain MacLennan, said the meeting was a "first step" adding: "There's no doubt that, without the action happening, that meeting would never have taken place." .


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