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University Occupations Round-Up 15/02/09

February 15th, 2009 · post by tommy · Make a comment

We are now halfway through Feburary, and the student activists continue to hold University buildings, with a few new occupations starting and some ending in the last week.

The occupation at Glasgow university is over and demands have been fully met!

Students of Edinburgh are now into their fifth day of occupation, students continue to hold the George Square Lecture Theatre, they are actingin response to their university’s financial and commercial links to the apartheid state of Israel, in addition to its unacceptable silence in response to the Gaza conflict

The UEA occupation was ended after 24 hours, with the students considering it a success, despite not unconditionally achieving all of their demands. However, they state that: “will be very likely to gain the concession of our demands. Should this prove not to be the case, with us having agreed unanimously to accept a gentleman’s(sic) agreement with University authorities to consider our demands, we will once again begin a campaign of as yet undefined direct action”

The large occupation at Manchester university continues, they continue to claim victories.

Students of Goldsmiths’ University (including myself), yesterday (13th Feb) concluded an occupation of deptford town hall, the takeover lasted just under 48 hours and ended successfully, as the single demand the student body imposed on senior management has now been fulfilled. At approximately 8pm on Thursday 12th February 2009, we received, in writing, a signed document stating that: Four MA scholarships to students from areas of the world that suffer political oppression to the point where their ‘human right to education is denied to them’. Two of these scholarships are guaranteed for Palestine for ten years, after this time, there will be a review of the situation conducted directly by the students.

Although this is a colossal achievement, a cynic may observe that the Goldsmiths occupation was a lot shorter than some of the other student occupations, such as the LSE occupation, which lasted a week, or the on going occupation of Manchester University which is in its tenth day. People may inquire as to why the Goldsmiths students made just one demand, unlike other universities who requested a great deal more.

Flying the flag over Deptford town hall

A few years ago, due to the success of Campaign against the arms trade (CAAT) Goldsmiths divested from the arms trade, which is why arms issues were not brought up. Instead, the occupation of Goldsmiths was called by the Goldsmiths’ Students Union Palestine Twinning campaign, which has been going for more than two years. Securing the two post-graduate scholarships for Palestine, the sole demand of the occupation, has been on their agenda for a long time, and they felt it necessary to avoid diverting attention away from this issue. They knew exactly what it was we wanted from the University, and we achieved it.

The students in occupation made no secret about the fact that they were aware Goldsmiths has been relatively admirable in regards to the Palestinian issue, for example, senior management have openly condemned the Gaza bombings, which was a demand many University occupations made. This good record is exemplified by the fact that lecturers voted overwhelming in support of the student occupation.

This occupation was an example of what can be achieved when direct action is twinned with direct democracy. Power was seized using the sheer strength of our numbers; and then distributed amongst the people taking part. The group had no official leader, and the leaders we had attained their position organically, being fully accountable at all times, which resulted in nobody feeling disenfranchised and decisions were reached using a democratic voting system between consensually agreed choices. Effortlessly creating a microcosm of the society people like myself strive for.

Note:In the section on the UEA occupation, a direct quote containing the phrase ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ is used. This emphasis on patriacal language is in contrast to Last Hours’ policy on sexism, but was left intact soley because it was in a quotation.

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