Encampment Protestors Interrupt Love York Awards Ceremony 

The 2024 Love York awards ceremony was briefly interrupted when two protestors from the Palestinian Encampment came onto the stage.


On Sunday night, during the 2024 Love York Awards two protestors appeared on stage, holding up a banner and calling for Charlie Jeffrey (who wasn’t in attendance) to call for an end to the genocide in Gaza.

The disruption occurred during the second award of the night, the Outstanding Contribution to Academic Experience Award, which was presented by Tom Banham, Interim Registrar. 

The winner came onto the stage and started giving her award acceptance speech, thanking her department representatives. Before she could continue, two masked protesters entered from the left-hand side of the stage, holding a banner that read “UNI OF YORK WE CHARGE YOU WITH GENOCIDE”. 

The protestors said: “40, 000 Palestinian children dead. 40, 000. And this Vice Chancellor wants to make it into a debate. Palestinian lives are not up for debate.”

“End your complacency, your complicity in this Holocaust. Condemn this genocide.”

They finished by saying: “Charlie Jeffery get a grip. Doesn’t genocide make you sick?” 

The protestors largely spoke unimpeded, with the room falling immediately silent upon their arrival. After about a minute, they exited the stage from the left and the award ceremony continued. The moment did receive something of an applause from the gathered crowd before the winner stepped back to the microphone to finish her speech. 

Vice Chancellor Charlie Jeffery did not make an appearance at the event. He was scheduled to present the Outstanding Contribution to Student Life Award later but Kiran Professor Kiran Trehan, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, Partnerships and Engagement, presented the award instead. Sources close to Jeffery noted that the Vice Chancellor’s primary interest was in ensuring his presence in the face of any potential protests did not disrupt the event. His focus was to ensure students were able to celebrate their achievements. 

Despite the early disruption of the protest, the awards show proceeded largely as planned (and actually ahead of time), with many students being recognised for their contributions to student life throughout the evening. The departing Sabbatical officers also gave personal speeches throughout the night, using their final moments at the podium to draw attention to causes that matter to them, such as mental health or diversity and equal opportunities.

In the final Sabbatical speech of the night, departing YUSU President Pierrick Roger used his speech to discuss notable University concerns that he has been unable to discuss in his role due to various legal and procedural restrictions. Roger started by thanking all the staff working at the event and briefly summarised this year’s Union’s accomplishments. He then said, “from here on, the speech gets a lot more disruptive so I apologise”.

He started by clarifying that his statements would be “made on a personal basis and are not a reflection of the views of my employer, governors or members’ opinions. I am making these statements independent of YUSU and not in my capacity of President of the Union”.  

“Criticism is really encouraged at University, and at this University. It’s essential to our ability to learn and grow as individuals and as a collective. In other spaces and with some other individuals, it’s not recognised though and it’s meant that I, as a President, haven’t always been able to critique things I oppose and, because of unfair laws and regulations, I’ve had to give you the impression that there are certain things, including certain recent international events, that I’m not willing to take action on. That’s simply not true.”

Roger then took a badge out of his pocket and attached it to his blazer, saying “for those who can’t see it, that’s a Palestinian flag.” 

“This is the hard truth: we as unions aren’t able to speak out because we are not permitted to and it is absolutely infuriating.” 

This comment was in relation to the government’s guidance on free speech for Student Unions.

Roger continued, “I have to say, and I’m saying this as a previous Ethics officer, I think it’s pretty obvious what I think. I think it’s war crimes, that’s what going on right now.”  

“It goes without saying this is literal genocide…It’s genocide in Sudan, it’s genocide in Ethiopia, and it’s genocide in Palestine. The reason I’m saying this is because I don’t want to give the impression that, as a fervent believer in divestment, it somehow isn’t [genocide].”

“I haven’t been able to say what I like by this government so I’ll make it very clear tonight for you all before I leave forever: Palestinians deserve statehood, Palestinians deserve peace, Palestinians deserve to be free,” said Roger.

This year’s Love York awards can be watched in full on YSTV’s YouTube channel. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.