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Occupation against corporate universities

student | 11.05.2006 12:09 | Education | Globalisation | Social Struggles | South Coast

In Sussex university, about 50 students occupied the innovation centre. This building is one of the many emerging links between business and higher education.

Today, 11th May at 8am 50 students from the University of Sussex occupied a business centre on the University campus. The slogan of the protest is >. The students are protesting against the increasing involvement of private enterprise in universities. They call for a fully state funded higher education system without tuition fees and accessible to all by means of a grant students can live on.

Businesses being developed at the > include American Express- a big employer of low paid indebted students. The university should not be involved in developing such enterprises which exploit students and should focus it efforts in providing a decent level of services to students. The number of teaching hours per week in many courses is abysmally low. It is impossible to get a square meal after 4pm on campus. Rent goes up every year without any noticeable improvements and the entire Chemistry department is being threatened with closure. Rather than forming partnerships with American Express and the like, the university should be focusing its attention on addressing these fundamental grievances.

The 11th of May is European day of protest against the Bologna process. This process, which is changing the landscape of European Higher Education, has been drafted in collusion with some of the biggest corporations (represented by the European Round Table of Industrialists). We oppose this process because we see this as a prime example of the market gaining influence in public services.



The meaning of ">"

11.05.2006 23:06

Some clarifications:

The slogan of the occupation was decided as "free education, not business incubation" in consideration of the occupied building being called a 'business incubator'.

Also the second paragraph should read 'business being developed at the 'innovation centre' include American Express'.

Alasdair 'sort me out' Smith


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the aftermath...

12.05.2006 08:50

Students finished the occupation at around 4 or 5 that day, disrupting almost the entire working day in the innovation centre. Almost half of the centre was occupied, including the roof.

The universities response was outrageous. Claiming that the occupiers of the Innovation Centre were to descend upon the library to occupy and shut it down, four days before all arts third year undergrads have to hand in their final dissertations, the university "pre-emptively" shut the entire library down themselves. More so, they shut down all the nearby computer rooms and lecture halls (arts A) because for the same reason.

The university pointed to the fact that Sussex students had already occupied the library before (see: ) so would not sweat about doing it again. Of course when students occupied the library the point was to [i]keep it open[/i] for longer, not to close it down. There was never any talk by the student occupiers of even going near the library, let alone trying to shut it down.

The university evacuated the library a few hours before its due closing time. One student alone refused to leave and kept working at his desk. Because of the supposed threat of a student occupation, two security guards carried him outside.

This is an bullyish attempt to smear the discourse of the student occupiers, and to bully students angry over the desperate state of our education into non-action. For example: the idea was raised to simply break into the library and hold it open for its proper hours, but many were worried that the university would simply shut it down entirely until Monday (the dissertation hand in day).

This can only have one affect: to at once both radicalise students who could see past the universities bullshit, and to push those who don’t further to the right. Just like many students fully support AUT action and see it as a consequence of the Universities lust for corporate profit, many students blame their tutors for not being considerate enough of the students 'needs.' [wants is probably a more appropriate word].

Sussex University has yesterday shown that it is prepared to ruin its own substance at the expense of keeping its image clean, at the expense of shifting debate from its corporatisation to who was in the wrong. Thus Sussex University management is trying to mimic a corporation well: flashy and pristine on the outside; full of suit wearing maggots and woodworm at its core. Unless something is done soon, the entire institution will collapse like a dead tree. As a culture we have a duty to clean out these parasites and let our trees grow again.

A critique of the students: if there is anything negative to say about the student action it is this: the use of the term 'occupation' for both an 'opening' and a 'closing' of a building is confusing. The door was left open for Sussex plc. to claim that all student occupations were 'closings.' It might seem obvious to them what the distinction is, but it's not explicit enough. The word should be defined properly or dropped. If dropped, students are playing into the hands of the university discourse. But in order for dialect to occur properly (not under the facade of confused meanings), everyone must know that a day is a day and a night is a night: the distinction must be clear.

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