NCAFC called a national day of action for November 23rd, a week ahead of the massive public sector strike on November 30th. Several universities have now gone into occupation...
Cambridge students kicked off the action last night, when they shut down a talk by Universities Minister David Willets, and then declared an occupation. You can follow them here and on Twitter here and send them messages of solidarity.
Birmingham, who's students union Vice President for Education Ed Bauer has been banned from campus following his arrest along with two others after a banner drop at the LibDem conference, announced their occupation just after midnight. They released the following statement:
We have occupied the abandoned former gatehouse of the North Gate of the University of Birmingham. We have done this because despite the university and government taking increasingly regressive measures to make universities inaccessible, we are determined to keep the gates open. Our aim is to advance a set of demands centred on justice in education and educational institutions. We want people to be treated as human beings and the university to be run for public good, not as a business.
We have taken this space as a “free space” on campus, from which we seek to educate ourselves, and all who come into the occupation, to build a stronger movement. We are determined to stay as long we can, we implore the university not to resort to force to remove us as they did last January.
They later added a statement of international solidarity:
We are inspired by the students and workers who have lead the struggle against tyranny in the Arab world; who are giving their blood to overthrow the military dictatorship in Egypt right now. The struggles of Greek workers and Chilean students are examples we should seek to emulate
Birmingham Uni occupation has been barricaded by the University security staff for 12 hours now. When I phone the Uni at around 1pm asking for them to let the students have access to food and water, I was told that the University would do all it could to "facilitate peaceful protest". This apparently included calling the police to break up the occupation (they refused, saying it would be disproportionate), allowing their own security to punch an occupier three times, and then smashing the windows of their own property to attempt to gain access to the building. The occupiers have held their ground and have now secured the space once more. For more updates, follow #occupyuob for regular updates.
This morning, the occupation of 53 Gordon Sq, London WC1H 0PD was announced, and is now Bloomsbury Social Centre. They're using the twitter hashtag #socialbloom and now have their own twitter account, @SocialBloom. Their initial statement explains why this building has been chosen, what their plans are, and ends with:
In Bloomsbury the recession has been used as an excuse to stagnate wages, casualise employment, and to impose redundancies. It has been used further to separate workers, residents and students. Things have to change. Empty buildings wait across our city. We take heart from the action of Occupy movements around the world, the resistance to austerity measures in Greece, and the militant workers’ movement which is pushing forward the revolutions in Egypt and beyond.
Royal Holloway have not gone into occupation but have held various actions on campus to build for #N30:
Royal Holloway activists have been interrupting UCAS day tours being led by members of College Council, who are planning to make huge department cuts, job losses and has made privatisation agreements with 3 companies including the textbook publishers Pearsons, to make arguments against cuts, fees and privatisation. Students, and workers in the GMB and UCU are also leafletting and talking to people about future events – a discussion on the white paper tomorrow, and a rally and picket line for striking workers on the 30th.
Warwick then set up an occupy camp in campus with around 15 tents, and said:
The main reason for the protest is our opposition to the university’s stance on HE funding. There is no financial reason for them to support the HE White Paper – which will effectively mean the end of public education as we know it and an end to education as an egalitarian public service. We condemn the university’s support for the white paper and support the alternative white paper which a group of campaigning academics has released, which provides a much better blueprint for the future of education.
This evening, more campuses went into occupation. York have set up tents on their campus, despite it being Novermber, and the north of England. Hardcore.
Edinburgh have also occupied - after sitting through a rather dull students union AGM, a group of students announced that they were going to stay in the building. They're now busy decking the place out and securing themselves for the night, you can follow them on Twitter here.
Goldsmiths is now occupied in solidarity with the November 30th strike and the global occupation movement. We reject the privatisation and marketisation of life, and the violent transfer of public wealth into private hands. We stand with all those afflicted by this vile agenda and against those who profit from this enforced misery.
P.S. Fuck those cowardly bureaucrats who think they run this university and who consistently refuse to support the staff and students of Goldsmiths. They are not educators.
There have been lots of other smaller actions across the UK, and NCAFC have been live blogging the whole thing. Good luck to everyone sleeping in Universities tonight!