Archive for the ‘Occupation Updates’ Category

sussexdemo

Sussex Against Privatisation Press Release:
http://sussexagainstprivatization.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/press-release-march-25-5-30pm/
Blow-by-blow account and pictures of the day:
http://libcom.org/news/national-demo-against-privatisation-university-sussex-updates-25032013

Last week saw roughly 1000 UK students attend a national protest against privatisation, held at Sussex University. The protest was called by the Sussex Occupation – who have been occupying a conference centre in their university for seven weeks, in protest against the outsourcing of 235 jobs to private companies. The occupation is still there as I write this, but is under immanent threat of eviction. University Management has got the High Court to put an injunction in place – banning any and all protest on campus. In addition they now also have a ‘possession order’ on the occupied building, meaning that it could be invaded by bailiffs at any time. According to their blog ( http://sussexagainstprivatization.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/day-53-no-food-no-water-no-to-privatisation/ ), security are currently refusing to allow any people, or even any food, into the occupation, and have been seen intimidating anyone associated with the protest. Sussex occupiers could use support – so if nothing else, please consider signing their petition against the ban on protests: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/stop-the-protest-ban-at-sussex-university
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Sussex Against Privatisation Banner

Sussex Against Privatisation Banner (Photo courtesy of Alice Bell)

On 7th February,  following a demonstration against the privatisation of 235 jobs at their university,  Sussex students occupied the Bramber conference centre on their campus. They are demanding:

1. A complete halting of the ongoing bidding process and end to the entire privatization program, effective immediately.
2. A commission of students, staff and lecturers to be formed. With full remit to re-evaluate procedures and channels for holding management accountable as well as reviewing and extending student and workers’ say in these decisions.
3. An end to the intimidation that senior and middle management have used to deter students and workers for airing and acting on their concerns.

Please consider signing the statement of solidarity to show your support

Check out their  the website or facebook group for more info.

UPDATES:  (check @occupy_sussex twitter, or the Sussex Against Privatisation blog for latest)

There will be updates on http://uloccupation.wordpress.com shortly!

Minutes from The Linc

The event, “University Question Time”, will start at 5pm at the LPAC and is open to all staff and students, however student cards are required for entry.

Also on the panel will be Chris Charnley, president of Lincoln SU, Richard Keeble, acting head of the Lincoln School of Journalism, as well as Jack Dobson, a member of University of Lincoln Occupation. Roger Buttery, university board member and SU trustee, will be chairing the discussion.

The meeting is a result of the student occupation at the university in December, in protest against the rise in tuition fees. The group spent 219 hours in the beanbag room in the Main Admin Building and finished following a meeting with Stuart.
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Solidarity With Libya! Marches across the UK

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Thousands Protest as Libya Attacks Libyans

Thousands joined the protest outside the Libyan Embassy this evening, before marching on Downing Street.. The Socialist Worker reports that 10 coaches travelled from Manchester alone, and that some protestors have declared that they will spend the night outside the Embassy. More joined protests outside Downing Street.

Protests have been held on a daily basis since Sunday, and plans are afoot for the largest yet on Sunday 27th Feb, if Gadaffi manages to hold onto power for that long. This afternoon Qadaffi made another appearance on Libyan State TV. In a rambling speech he called on his supporters to attack the pro-democracy protestors and vowed to die a martyr. Declaring that “Libya wants glory, Libya wants to be at the pinnacle, at the pinnacle of the world”, he again accused the west of providing mind-altering drugs to the protestors.

Later students at London School of Economics occupied the Senior Common Room in protest at the links between the university and the Gaddafi regime. Although LSE suspended its Libya funded programmes yesterday, the students are demanding that the funding that LSE received should be returned “to the people of Libya”.

Yesterdays protest outside the Embassy saw the Libyan flag removed and replaced with the Libyan Independence Flag.

Hizb ut-Tahrir turned up at Sunday’s protest, and such was the displeasure of the protesters, that police cordoned off a seperate area for them.

Tomorrow’s protest will start from 3pm outside the Libyan Embassy 15 Knightsbridge London SW1X 7LY


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International response gathers

Guardian

See Video on Site

No-fly zone or sanctions among options being considered as world bids to force Libyan leader to end the violence

International efforts to respond to the Libyan crisis are gathering pace under US leadership after a still defiant Muammar Gaddafi launched counterattacks to defend Tripoli against the popular uprising now consolidating its hold on the liberated east of the country.

The White House said Barack Obama planned to call David Cameron and France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, to discuss possible actions, including a no-fly zone or sanctions to force the Libyan leader to end the violence. Switzerland said it had frozen Gaddafi’s assets.

Gaddafi, in power for 42 years, has used aircraft, tanks and foreign mercenaries in eight days of violence that has killed hundreds in the bloodiest of the uprisings to shake the Arab world. Up to 2,000 people may have died, it was claimed by a senior French human rights official.

But there was no sign Gaddafi was prepared to change course. In another semi-coherent and abusive speech on Thursday, he accused protesters of being drugged and agents of al-Qaida. “Their ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafé,” he said in a telephone interview with Libyan state TV – suggesting he may already have left his heavily guarded Tripoli compound.

It only boosted the growing impression that he is desperate and out of touch with reality. “This is the speech of a dead man,” said Said el-Gareeny in the eastern city of Benghazi, which is now in opposition hands.

“People always warn about al-Qaida and say this will become an Islamic state … to get support from western countries. This isn’t true. The Libyan people are free. That’s it.”

Cameron will take personal charge of efforts to set up convoys, protected by the military, able to evacuate British and other citizens stranded in camps in the Libyan desert amid growing fears that they could be taken hostage. The Foreign Office estimates there are 150 Britons, mostly oil workers and support staff, stranded in remote and isolated camps scattered over a large distance.

A possible airlift by special forces will also be examined. The defence secretary, Liam Fox, said he was co-ordinating a response with Nato as well as looking at the state of Libyan air defences and the risk they pose to UK forces. British special forces are in Malta, with some reports that they are in Tripoli.

Heavy fighting was reported from the important town of al-Zawiya, 35 miles west of Tripoli, while armoured units commanded by Gaddafi’s son Khamis and other loyalist forces were deployed eastwards along the coastal road towards Misurata, the country’s third largest city and a major port – said to be in the hands of rebels who are now equipped with heavy weapons.

Reports from Libya said between 23 and 100 people had been killed in al-Zawiya, which controls the western approaches to Tripoli.

Medical sources in the capital reported that the corpses of those killed in recent days and injured patients were removed from the Tripoli medical centre and another hospital.

Witnesses said they had been taken to Mitiga military airport. “They are trying to hide the evidence and cleaning up the streets and telling people to go to work,” said one man. “But from dusk onwards it’s a ghost town.”

In eastern Libya, many soldiers have now withdrawn from active service and some are supporting the revolt, with a former Gaddafi minister helping to organise the next stage of the uprising.


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Brighton Demo in Solidarity with Libya

Indy

Solidarity with the Middle Eastern and North African Uprisings

Demonstrate 4.30pm Friday 25th February 2010, Old Steine, Brighton

Over the last eleven days the people of Libya, inspired by revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and uprisings spreading across the Middle East and North Africa, have risen up against the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi. The regime has responded by shutting down phone and internet networks, attacking protests and massacring their own population from the air and with hired mercenaries. The casualties are not yet known but those murdered are estimated at 1000.

On Friday 25th Libyan dissidents have called for a day of rage against the regime – We are here to stand in solidarity with them…

The Libyan uprising is a people’s rebellion aimed at shaking off state repression. While the UK has been preaching rapprochement with Libya and peddling crowd control equipment and riot shields to the Libyan police the Libyan people have been suffering under a brutal dictatorship.

In Egypt, recipient of $1.5 billion annually of US funding and armed by the UK, the people toppled the thirty year regime of Hosni Mubarak through a popular revolution. Their struggle for liberation was not only against the Mubarak regime but against US imperialism. The Egyptian military has now taken control and called for an end to strikes and protests. However, their revolution is ongoing and deserves our solidarity

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Gaddafi Out! Protest on the streets of Bradford

Indy

A large group of protestors gathered outside the Alhambra theatre in Bradford to protest against the murder of hundreds of anti-government activists in Libya and to call for the removal from power of the countrys dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi. At the time of writing, around 50 Bradford residents had already gathered and their numbers were continuing to grow.

The protest in Bradford has assembled as Gaddafi’s security forces continue their brutal crackdown on the people of Libya, who are calling for freedom from a dictatorship that has perservered in the country since 1969. The uprising began on the 13th January 2011 and is continuing.

The latest reports put the death toll at a minimum of 300 people, with the latest confirmed death being that of an 18 month old boy. Gaddafi’s son has vowed to “fight to the last bullet”, but this has not deterred the mounting numbers of people taking to the streets daily or their determination for the people to take the country back.

The crowd demonstrating in Bradford could be heard chanting “Gaddafi out” as far away as the town hall as many finished work and converged outside the Alhambra theatre, opposite the council offices, in cold and wet weather. Several people were waving large Libyan flags, and many others held up hand made signs calling for justice for those killed.

One held up a sign with pictures of various western heads of state including David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barack Obama, red tape placed over their mouths. One of the protestors pointed to the sign and explained:

“They are also to blame for this massacre. For 4 days they have said nothing and allowed it to go on. And for what? For oil?”

When asked what the Libyan people wanted, if it was just for Gaddafi to step down, a protestor replied:

“We want him removed from power, but we do not want him to leave Libya. We want justice for all that he has done. The Libyan people should decide that justice.”

“He is killing our people. They, we are not his people. He has brought in outsiders with helicopters”

Some of those on the protest were as young as 8 years old and held banners with the words “Gaddafi out” written on them. The majority of those present were local Bradford residents of Libyan descent, though other people from a variety of Bradfords communities had already joined the protest in solidarity.

When asked if the protests happening now in Libya and elsewhere had been inspired by what had happened in Egypt and elsewhere recently, the reply was terse:

“42 years we have suffered. For 42 years we have wanted freedom from this dictator. We have seen now that this is possible after what has happened elsewhere, now it is our turn. We finally have a real chance to free ourselves after all this time.”

Similar protests have been happening across the North of England and around the world in response to the growing numbers of innocent people killed by the Libyan government as the uprising continues.

The demonstration in Bradford is particularly appropriate since there is a local link to the massacre there: WS Atkins Global (LS15 8ZB). Atkins has an department called Design and Engineering Solutions that is divided into various business sectors, namely Defence, Aerospace…. Atkins is the largest UK engineering consultancy in the Middle East.

“WS Atkins also expects to play a role in redeveloping Tripoli’s two airports as part of a larger BAE Systems contract. A senior source at BAE said negotiations with the Libyan government centred on a complete and detailed revamp of its aviation sector, including the creation of regulatory bodies, refurbishment of airports, installation of air-traffic control systems and the sale of aircraft.”

source: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/article1052596.ece

“When I first started coming to Libya two years ago I was the only Brit on the plane,” says Atkins director John Cherrington. “Now look at it.”

Flights to Tripoli are currently jammed with British businessmen, but Atkins got in early. It was approached by the Libyan Football Federation in 2002, and shortly after began work on a hotel resort for it. Later it developed the LFF’s bid to co-host the 2010 World Cup with Tunisia.

Other Links:

“Day of Rage”: Libyan solidarity in Londonhttp://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/02/474359.html

Vigil Friday 18th for those killed in Bahrain & Libya http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/703398

Sheffield protest against repression in Libyahttp://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/02/474559.html

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Bradford Protests Continue

Indy

Protests in solidarity with those being massacred in the anti-government uprising in Libya are continuing outside the Alhambra theatre in Bradford city centre.

The crowd of around 30-50 people could again be heard from as far away as centenary square as they demanded justice for those killed by Gaddafi, and the freedom of their country.

Protestors waved flags and chanted as they spoke to passers by about why they were there. Demonstrations are expected to continue as the uprising is ongoing.


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Libyan Demo outside Welsh Assembley

Indy

Approx 150 held noisy demo outside Welsh assembly building. There were also Egytians, Tunisians present to showsupport with the people of Libya.

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Cardiff Demo in support of Libyan uprising

Indy

 

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Indy

Dayx4 Student Protests in London – UCL Occupied

Hundreds took part in the latest Dayx4 student protests, with feeder marches from several different universities, meeting to protest outside the Universities UK Vice Chancellors meeting [report and pics]. From there, refusing to be stopped by police, they took Euston Road and marched down Oxford Street protesting against UKUncut targets. Deciding against occupying ULU, they demonstrated in solidarity with the people of Libya in Grosvenor Square, before protesting at a meeting at UCL where BP reps were speaking. After holding a meeting at UCL, they decided to stay and are now in occupation at the Old Refectory in the Wilson building. They have called a general meeting at 6pm Friday inviting all campaigning against the cuts to link up.

See:  UCLOccupation [Twitter] | LSE OccupationRoyal Holloway Occupation [2] | Previous Student Coverage

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Also Indy

University vice-chancellors held a meeting yesterday at woburn house in london. students planned a protest outside the meeting against cuts to the EMA grants, rises in tuition fees, and the coalition’s idealogical attack on education.

A planned university occupation failed after an apparent factional dispute, but the protest then transformed into a more general anti-cuts demonstration with visits to known corporate tax dodgers, some disruption around central london, and finally a solidarity visit to a Libyan protest outside the american embassy.

The new politically-aware generation connected the dots beautifully with a series of spontaneous decisions and the impromptu marches passed off peacefully with little police interference, and in fact, text-book ‘facilitation’.


Boots closed with customers inside!

 

at about 2pm yesterday afternoon, a small crowd of around 100 students with a few lecturers and other activists gathered near woburn house in tavistock square to protest the tuition fee rises and EMA cuts, while university vice-chancellors held a meeting there.

at about 2.15, numbers were swelled by about a hundred more students from the LSE who arrived with a bicycle sound system and took over the road. there were about a dozen police at the protest, and they gave up some half-hearted efforts to move people, and instead helped find motorists an alternative route.

the students then held a short impromptu march round the square, with some mild scuffles with police on the main road as a few students ran forward to try and enter the building. police then started to put up some metal barriers to close off the road in front of the building, but students interpreted this as the precursor to the kettle, and soon ran over and stopped it, as well as sitting on piles of barriers to prevent any further movement.

again, the dozen police stood down, and although there is little doubt there must have been reserves nearby, none appeared.

with no sign of vice-chancellors or any other movement in the building, the students decided to go on a walkabout, first heading up upper woburn place, where they held up traffic for a few minutes, and then on to the busy euston road junction in front of the station, where they sat down for about ten minutes, bringing the traffic to a standstill at around 3pm.

earlier, notes were passed round telling people to follow the ‘red umbrellas’, and as the crowd walked west along euston road, the umbrellas were raised. a plan was afoot, and a university occupation seemed to be the aim. the umbrellas took us down goodge street and then turned left towards the university of london union building – clearly this was the target.

however, at the doors there was a strange stand-off, with none other than clare solomon, the socialist president of the ULU, standing shoulder to shoulder with the university security guards, clearly ready for the incursion and determined to fight it off. there were angry exchanges between activists from both sides of the occupation divide, but many of the crowd seemed unaware of the division, and inertia took them further down the road.

if you have time, there is a possibly pertinent and interesting opinion piece here (http://london.indymedia.org/articles/6060) which sheds an anarchist perspective on some of the socialist would-be leaders of the students’ struggles, however, despite her socialist leanings, there is some favourable support for her tenure among many activists, and her speeches to date have often spoken of direct action, so it’s difficult to know what exactly the division was about at ULU yesterday.

down the road, there was a small fracas with police attempting an arrest. students showed powerful solidarity and performed a classic de-arrest, during which the target made a swift escape, and one policeman lost his helmet, while several others lost their tempers. however, the skirmish was soon over, and surprisingly, still no re-inforcements arrived, leaving the same dozen officers to follow the crowd as they once again set off on a walkabout at around 3.15.

reaching tottenham court road, there was another short roadblock, before someone spotted a barclays branch, and called out to occupy it. police raced against  protestors along the road, but at least a dozen activists managed to enter the branch before police gained control of the door. the branch was then closed for several minutes, eggs were thrown at the glass front, and a banner unfurled on a balcony, but those inside decided to leave together after a short while.

again, there was no visible sign of police re-inforcements other than the appearance of a squad car and a van at the bottom of tottenham court road redirecting traffic to close the road off.

chanting exuberantly, and with the bicycle sound system pumping out beats, the protest then took to oxford street. the first stop there was a vodafone shop, which immediately closed its doors while police formed a line in front.

advance warnings were clearly in operation, as the boots chemist branch further along already had its shutters down, trapping bemused customers inside. topshop at oxford circus had lines of security and police letting customers out but no would-be customers in.

the customary blockade of oxford circus lasted about ten to fifteen minutes at around 4pm, and again, there was no interference from the police. in fact, it was by now quite a good-natured interaction, and i also saw two officers warning off a couple of gentlemen who appeared to be attempting to pick bags amongst the students. other police chatted with motorists, calming them and no doubt telling them the protest would be moving along soon. one group sat right in the middle of the junction while others stood around, and some danced joyously to the sound system in the surprisingly warm sunshine.

after more discussion, and some googling to find out its location, the call went up to head for the libyan embassy. this is near the american embassy in grosvenor square, but as the students approached, it became clear that there were a group of a couple of hundred libyans already protesting outside the american embassy, so the students joined them.

LSE students made an announcement about the way the LSE has become a university for hire, and about their recent dicovery that the libyan dictator gaddafi had made a ‘donation’ to the university of one and a half million pounds. they described how within hours of this discovery they had organised an overnight occupation, and then negotiated with university financiers that in return for ending the occupation, a promise be made whereby all the money would be ring-fenced and used to provide bursaries and grants to future libyan students.

this announcement was met with much cheering and applause, and followed by more open mic speeches from the libyan protestors in front of the american embassy.

i left them there at around 5.30, but i believe a smaller number then marched on to UCL and began an occupation there. (more on this, and some other pics from the day athttp://london.indymedia.org/articles/7577).
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back at woburn house, police were still on guard at the doors.

after the extreme policing of student protests at the end of last year, it is difficult to second guess the police approach from event to event, but today’s passed off well, with a hands-off approach avoiding violence, allowing freedom of movement and speech, and in return finding a positive, exuberant, spontaneous and powerful protest not forced into defence or retaliation.

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London Students Occupy!

A group of student anti cuts activists from various London colleges have taken over the a Bedford square building (part of Royal Holloway University of London), as well as the adjoining premises in central London.

They want the space to become a hub for the student movement, as a free area to organize, collaborate and hold events!!! If your’e around, pop in and see them!!

WELL DONE GUYS!!!

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It’s official – UCL are back in occupation #demo2011 #solidarity#dayx4 http://twitter.com/UCLOccupation/ we have occupied the old refectory, the room directly opposite the JBR. we are having a meeting now, including discussing our demands.

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Royal Holloway Occupied

Royal Holloway have OCCUPIED the Arts Building

Education is in a period of crisis. The cuts to the teaching budget, the prioritisation of STEM subjects, and the increase in tuition fees have devalued our degrees, changed students into consumers of university prestige and post-degree job potential rather than pursuers of education for its own sake, and reduced the valuable resources and contact hours that are essential to diverse and encompassing courses.

We have already conveyed these concerns to the university management, and invited them to take part in a public meeting before the end of the last term, which they failed to organise, or enquire about.

As members of the University Management team are attending the Universities UK conference on Thursday 24th February, we press those representing RHUL to deliver a clear message to other vice-chancellors and management. This is a vital opportunity to make the case against an increase in tuition fees and spending cuts.

As Principal Paul Layzell himself said “we can only speak with our actions”. Therefore we have decided to hold a sit-in. We wish to emphasise the importance of these demands, and reclaim the university space. We shall encourage an open-door policy, will not hinder any students or workers from their day-to-day activities, and shall put on a variety of academic and cultural events as chosen by those participating in the sit-in as a practical demonstration of what the university could achieve without the limitations of spending cuts, raised tuition fees, and a ‘marketised’ structure of learning.

We enclose our demands.

1. The management should open the university accounts and books, and make them publicly available for anyone to see. In the letter ‘A statement by Royal Holloway, University of London on the proposed changes to Higher Education Funding’ dated 24th November 2010, the management stated that “Whilst the college makes a modest annual surplus, this is used to invest in infrastructure such as the current projects to extend teaching space in the School of Management and to replace the Drama Studio” – we want access to the accounts and to be informed on the decision making process that led to these investments, and a projection of any future use of any annual surplus.

2. There should be collective decision making over key decisions, involving all members of the university – lecturers, administrative and support staff, workers, and students.

3. These decisions should be taken in open meetings, which consult the collective university body and operate democratically.

4. The management should release a public statement on the future of Royal Holloway in which they declare the future of funding, and discuss all reports and potential actions.

5. In the aforementioned letter, the management stated it was investigating the “better use of facilities by conferences and events outside term time, fund raising from former students and other donors, offering some of our programmes overseas, distance learning options and a modest growth in international students” – we want to know the developments made in these investigations, and how they would impact on funding at Royal Holloway.

6. We want to know what assessments the college have made regarding the impact of cuts and raised tuition fees on women, ethnic minorities, disabled students, international students and widening participation schemes, given that the management have already stated that “funding cuts threaten widening participation programmes and investment in the student experience”, in the abovementioned letter.

7. The management also claimed in this letter that “We believe in the public value of higher education” and that the “College and its trade body, Universities UK has and continues to lobby Government over the proposed changes to Higher Education funding. We welcome the College’s approach and wish to know the details of the college’s actions in lobbying the Government, and how they have linked with other universities, unions and pressure groups in campaigning against the cuts and the raise in tuition fees.

8. The management should be heavily lobbying and pressuring government not to hand down spending cuts: stressing that they will not make these cuts, redundancies and fee increases & prioritise spending on jobs and education.

9. Given that Principal Paul Layzell stated “we’ve been very clear here, you have a right to protest and no one’s going to stop you doing it”, and the conduct during the sit-in led Steven Bland, Head of Facilities Management, to convey to the Student’s Union that, paraphrasing, ‘he was happy with the way things had gone. He commented that the students were peaceful and polite and together with security have come to the decision that students can come and go as they please’, we push for no action to be taken against participators in the sit-in, whether lecturers, administrative and support staff, workers, or students. We also call on the management to speak out against those universities seeking to take legal action on other participants in sit-ins across the country, for example, at Birmingham University. We pledge to maintain the same level of courtesy, welfare preparation, and lack of disruption as during the last sit-in.

The Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance

Royal Holloway Anti Cuts Alliance
- e-mail: royalhollowayanticutsalliance@gmail.com
- Homepage: http://rhacc.wordpress.com

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Swp
Students protest at vice-chancellors’ meeting

by Siân Ruddick

Day X4 today saw students take to the streets to defend education and resist the government’s plans to massively raise tuition fees.

Hundreds picketed the Universities UK (UUK) offices in Tavistock Square, central London, where vice-chancellors held a meeting discussing the raising of fees.

Police attempted to keep students away from the building’s front door, but students broke through their lines and protested right outside the door.

They chanted, “UUK get out! We know what you are about! Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses!”

Students have come from universities across London, including LSE, King’s College, London Southbank, Goldsmiths, Soas and Westminster. Some school students have joined the march despite being on half term.

People marching from LSE stopped traffic as they went up Kingsway.

Michelle from Westminster University, said, “Our universities are not just making cuts. They are also hand in hand with the arms trade, investing our fees in bombs and bullets that oppress people across the world. We not only want free education but also ethical education and a world where no one profits from the murder of innocent people.”

Protesters blocked Euston Road and then marched round central London, occupying Barclay’s Bank on Tottenham Court Road.

They then marched to the US embassy to join a protest by Libyan people there. Hundreds of people are chanting, “42 years – enough is enough,” referring to Gaddafi’s long rule, and “Go, go Gaddafi.”

Students occupying Hull university marched out today to join an 800-strong council workers’ protest against cuts. And students at Cambridge university were to protest at 4pm today, following a successful mass meeting yesterday. Leeds university students held a show trial of their vice-chancellor ouside the student union today.

Manchester university was reoccupied yesterday by students taking over Roscoe Theatre A.

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East London Lines
Chaos at Goldsmiths building opening

Hordes of student protesters disrupted the official opening of multi-million pound state-of-the-art media facility at Goldsmiths, in New Cross on Tuesday evening.

The protest was sparked by the choice of Archie Norman, chairman of ITV and former Conservative MP, as the event’s guest of honour and the decision to make the event invite-only.

Demonstrators gathered outside the building’s entrance an hour before the event was set to begin, before around 100 of them entered the building with musical instruments, party hats and banners.

Organisers moved the officially invited guests to another building on the Goldsmiths campus, but protesters followed en masse chanting “Norman out!”

The college authorities attempted to go ahead with speeches in the staff dining room, but scores of protestors burst in as Norman began to speak, blowing horns and chanting. A small group of protesters threw eggs and water at Norman as he attempted to make his way through the crowd, and most of the dozens of bottles of the wine put out for guests instantly disappeared as the event ended in chaos.

The disruption cast a shadow over the opening of the New Academic Building (NAB), the biggest investment on the Goldsmiths campus for many years and which houses the university’s Media and Communications department.

One of the protest organizers, who would only give his name as Ron, said: “It’s our building – management didn’t mention anything about this event to students. So we thought we’d come along and make sure we were here for the opening of our building. It’s a protest against the marketisation and privatization of education.”

Goldsmiths management were at pains to point out that a large number of the student body had been invited.

Vicky Annand, Goldsmiths Head of Communications and Publicity, said. “Media & Communications and ICCE (Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship) students were invited and some were invited to do tours and showcase their work.”

“The building isn’t just for students, it’s for the community too. We host lectures and film shows here that all are invited to, and offer space that community groups can book during the summer months.”

A Goldsmiths spokesperson added: 
“The New Academic Building provides excellent facilities for two world-leading Goldsmiths departments and all of the students in the College. We had hoped to celebrate the building and we are saddened we could not do so as we had hoped.”

Archie Norman was seen as a controversial choice to open the new building by a number of students due to the fact that he was a former Conservative MP.

Norman said: “I’m surprised they think I’m worth the attention. I am no longer in politics and have no say in public sector cuts.” He emphasized that the NAB represents that there is continuing investment in media subjects, and that he is happy to see and speak to students. “I’ll come back in peacetime” he added.

Jim Rowland, the department’s administrative coordinator, said he had been involved with the development of the new building for 20 years and was “too upset and angry” to comment further.

A TUC rally held at the same time in a nearby building on the Goldsmiths campus also became a target for protesters, and the TUC’s General Secretary, Brendan Barber, was confronted by a group of demonstrators with banners.

Goldsmiths students have been involved in a number of protests in recent months, including the occupation of the university’s library and Deptford Town Hall buildings. Goldsmiths Students’ Union also played an active role in the nationwide student protests at the end of last year.

Hugh Jones, Goldsmiths registrar and secretary, said “you’ve got to keep it in perspective. It’s very Goldsmiths”

Reporting by Germaine Arnold, Chris Stevenson and Charlie Cooper

Video: Chris Stevenson, edited by Germaine Arnold

Video of the NAB from September 2010 by Emily Jupp


Original Post from Birmingham Students Against the Cuts

It has come to our attention that the University has preemptively placed restrictions on staff and student activity in the Aston Webb building in response to the National Coalition Against Fees and Cuts Day of Action.

We can only presume that they have done so to prevent any direct action by Stop Fees and Cuts.  In so doing they have created more disruption to students and staff than any action by us would have done and incurred unnecessary costs to themselves.
We had not planned any actions for the day and informed the university that we were going to do nothing in attempt to save them money.
nevertheless the University now will have to pay security costs and will have inconvenienced many of its members.
We hope the University administration , after all the trouble will reconsider the unnecessary cuts they are making to the detriment of the education and livelihoods of students and employees at Birmingham.
We are, however, far from happy at the disruption their actions will cause to the educations of students whose futures are our primary motivation for all our actions.
Other universities manage to handle protests and occupations by students without causing such disruption.  Over the past months the University has become very familiar with our methods and must surely realise that we have never acted to harm people or property and carry out direct actions with the view to causing minimal disruption to the normal activities of the University.  We hope that people will note that the common feature of any inconvenience caused by political protests on campus, real or imagined, is not the actions of protestors, but the grossly heavy-handed reactions of the administration.  This latest example comes after the University sent in security to violently break up a peaceful occupation and, subsequently, starting disciplinary proceedings (later abandoned) against any politically active students in the vicinity; expended large amounts of its own money on policing and surveillance of a protest consisting of a dozen or so students, many with disabilities and, perhaps most ridiculously, preemptively locking down the site of the above mentioned occupation to prevent reprisals on the day of disciplinary interviews, predicated on the fire hazard caused by blocking the same room.

We are at a loss to explain why the University management acts to its own detriment in these ways.  The only possible explanation is that they fear the increased attention these protests draw to their running of the University .  As well they might. The Vice Chancellor is the most well paid in the country, receiving £392, 000 last year, an increase of 11% on the year before.  97 staff now earn more than £100,000 a year and increase from 28 in 2000, this year alone management pay increases have cost £1.3 million pounds to students.  At the same time support staff earning little more than minimum wage are receiving real term pay cuts.  Relations between academic staff and management have deteriorated to the extent that they are considering strike action.  Senior management has responded by, cynically, feigning concern for the effect this will have on students’ education, whilst cutting funding of departments with some even facing closure.  All this has happened despite the University running a surplus.  Not to mention that Vice Chancellor David Eastwood sat on the Browne Review, which recommended unlimited tuition fees, and has since been cheerleading these measures in the media.

We will continue to hold the management of the University to account in spite of their aggressive reaction and invite others to join us.


Roscoe Occupation Blog

Roscoe’s back, baby!

Posted on February 23, 2011 by Roscoe

Introducing… The Really Open Occupation!

Today the Roscoe building was re-occupied by a group of students from the various student anti-cuts campaigns. At 8pm, the students, after attending a public lecture in Roscoe Theatre A, refused to leave the building, declaring the building occupied.

Roughly thirty individuals, most of whom are members of Manchester Autonomous Students, intend to stay within occupation until at least the 26th of March. The occupation intends to stand against the coalition government and the unnecessary and ideological social cuts they have imposed.

We would like to make our purposes for being in the building clear. We are here not to disrupt other students, and not to sit about getting pissed and high, but to show that we feel incredibly strongly about the political situation thrust upon the people of this country, as well as the terrible conditions millions face around the world.

The occupation has multiple purposes and is a safe space for people to organise against the cuts, both to higher education and society at large. However, the five main aims we have are as follows:

–          To act as an organising space for all aspects of the anti-cuts movement.

–          To build for the nationwide demonstration on the 26th of March.

–          To express solidarity with the international protests.

–          To offer a month’s alternative education in the form of free lectures and seminars within the Roscoe building.

–          To put pressure on university management.

As well as going in with a list of demands (which we will release shortly), we will be using the space to organise within the building to open us up to the wider anti-cuts movement and provide us with a base from which to plan events, spread the word about the current political situation and further cohesive communication within the movement.

The demonstration on the 26th March has been called by the TUC and promises to be the biggest protest regarding cuts yet.  Manchester should be sending a considerable number of people down to London for this, and also hosting its own demonstration for those people unable to travel to London. At the last occupation we raised about £4,500 in funds and send several coachloads of students to the tuition fees protest on the 9th of December. This time we can be more successful with better outreach into the community.

In expressing solidarity with the Middle Eastern protests we show that we are not solely concerned with the political situation in this country. We look to publicise the demonstrations regarding Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and all other countries oppressed by dictatorial regimes, as well as giving what actual support we can.

To concentrate a little more on the issue of tuition fees and education as a privilege rather than a right, we plan to set up a free school within the occupation to offer an alternative education through the medium of lectures on a range of subjects as well as seminars delivered by PhD students, university lecturers and other guest speakers. At the last occupation lectures were delivered on a range of topics by speakers from the Guardian to the University of Manchester history department.

This time the occupation would also like to make clear a definitive set of principles, through which we hope to make the occupation as enjoyable and productive a space as we possibly can.

The occupation is a non-hierarchical space:

–          Based on mutual respect – be safe.

–          Opposing oppressive and domineering behaviour – always challenge it.

–          Encouraging participation and actively empowering people.

In Solidarity,

The Roscoe Occupation – The Really Open Occupation

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Summary of the second day.

Posted on February 25, 2011 by Roscoe

Yesterday was our second day in occupation and we spent the majority of the day getting ourselves organised for the next few weeks. Some people went around the campus flyering and the welcome desk was expertly staffed all day. We also spoke to as many lecturers as we could, and received a fair amount of support, with offers from a few to speak at our month of alternative education.

A few events we arranged include an open mic night, today from 4pm onwards in Theatre A, and a critical discussion on how the occupation should address the issue of approaching management regarding fees and cuts. That’ll take place at 5pm in Roscoe Theatre B.

We’ll also have a talk entitled “Reimagining Education” at 5pm this Sunday in Theatre B, the first in a series of talks put on by members of the occupation. Then on Thursday we’re going to host a film night put on by Shoot! – this time they’ll be showing The Dark Knight, and following it with a discussion group which will assess the relevance and resonance of the film on the War on Terror, torture, and policing the public sphere.

Late last night, management showed up on the premises, and after savagely tearing down our Simone de Beauvoir quotes, told us that the doors would be locked overnight. We tried to have a chat, but the director of estates had had a bad day and was rather grumpy… Never mind! We got to work on flyer design and contacted as many societies as we could.

Get the word out about tonight’s open mic night – and we hope to see as many of you as possible over the weekend!