Students at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, west London, are planning to hold another peaceful vigil this afternoon, outside a Board of Governors meeting, to voice their concerns over a number of issues. The students will be presenting a petition with 300 signatures calling for the resignation of the principal and two other senior members of staff. They are also calling for the popular Theology Department to be saved, and for the reinstatement of the Theology professor who was suspended at the beginning of term after expressing his objections to the loss of his department. This prompted the resignation of a number of staff members and others - among them the distinguished historian Professor Eamon Duffy who has given up his Honorary Fellowship in protest.
Around 50 students took part in a four hour silent vigil outside the last Governors' meeting. Last Tuesday, a small group of students travelled up to Leeds to petition the Bishops's Conference meeting there to intervene. They also held a vigil in London on Friday at Eccleston Square during the Bishops' press conference.
One student, Heather Kuhlman, said that Mgr Stock, General Secretary of the Bishops' Conference, spoke with them for a long time in Leeds and London. She said he was very concerned and promised to passed their message on to the Bishops.
Another student, Charmaine Garton, said: "Our campaign continues out of our love for St Mary's. The reputation of the College is being irrevocably damaged and it is not at the hands of the student campaign which thus far has been respectful, dignified and justified throughout. We want to see our institute thrive and be the amazing establishment it was pre 2010, and we would like to see our valued and distinguished staff treated with the respect they wholly deserve."
We have requested a comment from the College academic staff. No response has been forthcoming yet.