A student protest opposing the appointment of Jamie Shea as a visiting lecturer took place on Friday 29 October.
The protest, which began in Library Square, moved into Arts A1 lecture theatre where Shea was due to give his first lecture to International Relations masters students.
The protest began peacefully in Library Square where campaigners attempted to gain signatories for their petition. But just before midday the protesters moved into the lecture theatre to listen to Shea deliver his lecture.
Shea, who was a spokesperson for NATO, delivered his 50 minute lecture to students without any reasonable disruption. A few protesters laughed when the subject of human rights was discussed and the lights were momentarily switched off half way through.
The real disruption arose at the end of the lecture when the floor was opened up to questions. Protesters booed from the back of the auditorium and some even shouted out insults such as ‘scumbag’ and ‘wanker’.
Former Students’ Union president Tom Wills accused Shea of being a ‘thoroughly dishonest individual’.
He then questioned Shea’s assertion that the bombing of civilians during the early days of the Afghanistan campaign could be considered a mistake considering that NATO forces knew of the damage they would cause.
The initial protest in Library square involved between 30 and 40 people. Two doctorate students, Richard Lane and Steffan Wyn-Jones, who attended the protest, explained that their primary concern with the appointment was not that he had been invited but that he was offered a teaching role.
They went on to say “He [Shea] can only offer a biased view. It is all very well him coming to speak here but not as a teacher”.
They also explained to me how he was not accountable for what he says as he did not work within the university and could not be visited by students to discuss issues brought up in his lectures.
They also believed that allowing Shea to come to Sussex set the standard for the type of people the university felt it was acceptable to invite.
Dr. Benno Teschke, a Senior Lecturer in International Relations, explained he was disgraced that a man from an organisation who had committed war crimes was allowed to come and teach at the university.
“There were a number of procedural issues with his appointment. There was almost no consultation with members of academic staff within the international relations department”.
Dr. Teschke was also disappointed at the prospect of Shea effectively becoming one of his collegues.
Shea’s lecture to International Relations students was concerning the conflict in Afghanistan and his future lectures will be centred on international security in a post-9/11 world. Shea was a NATO spokesperson between 1993 and 2000 after which he took up the role of Director of Press and Information for the organisation.
He currently holds the position of Director of Policy Planning.