20/2/9: Student occupiers, currently in their third day of the occupation of a key University building in St Andrews were suprised when the Principal Dr.
Louise Richardson met with them in Lower College Hall, the occupied building.
Caroline Clark, a first-year student studying Arabic, talked about her feelings when the Principal arrived, "We are overjoyed that the Principal has come to us. We had concerns when the University refused to allow us to meet the Principal". Agreed Molly Engelman, a Medieval History student, "This represents a small victory for the campaign".
Student negotiators regarded the meeting as productive and informative. The Principal heard the views of the assembled students and spoke of her experience campaigning against South African apartheid in her own student days.
Nevertheless, student protestors disagreed with the Principal on some key points. For instance the Principal expressed her view on the supposed neutrality of the University but Alistair Cooper, a former Liberal Democrat Scottish Parliamentary Candidate said, "The concept of neutrality is completely flawed because any action or investment the University makes on these issues expresses a political position". Dom Feargrieve, a third-year Philosophy and Theology student, agreed, "By not divesting from BAE systems or canceling its contract with Eden Springs, the University implicitly condones* Israeli action -- this is hardly a neutral stance".
Notes for Editors:
Photographs available upon request.
As reported by C. McManamon in The Courier 19th, 20th February, and others, students at St Andrews have been occupying Lower College Hall to protest University links with Israel. The protest began on the 18th February, is now in its third day, and students claim over 200 protestors have been in occupation.
* Student protestors have five key demands.
First, they are calling on the University to immediately suspend its contract with Eden Springs, the Israeli water company which illegally bottles water from the Golan Heights in the Occupied Territories.
Second, that the University review its research links with BAE Systems, which provide arms and equipment to the Israeli Defence Force, as well as other links to organisations that support the Israeli military.
Third, that a scholarship programme is put in place committed to funding 10 scholarships for Palestinian students, as their educational infrastructure has been severely damaged in the recent attacks(2).
Fourth, that the University broadcast the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) campaign on campus to raise money for the reconstruction of Gaza.
Finally, to pledge to donate unused equipment and non-monetary aid to the reconstruction of Palestinian universities.
St Andrews Occupation