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UK-wide Student Resistance to the Cuts

imc | 24.11.2010 10:50 | Education | Policing | Public sector cuts | Social Struggles

Update: A Second DayX has been called for 30th November. [ 2 | 3 | List of planned DayX2 actions ]

On Wednesday 24 November, tens of thousands of students walked out of their Schools, Colleges and Universities in protest against the cuts and austerity measures, whilst others occupied theirs.

Reports, updates, further action and advice for students in full article. Read on...

Occupations, teach-ins and walkouts have been reported at: University of Kent | Birmingham Feature | 1 | 2 | Strathclyde | Edinburgh 1 | 2 | 3 | Essex | Hastings | Winchester | Dursley | Leominster | Bradford | Newcastle 1 | 2 | Durham | Bristol 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Solidarity statement | Leeds | Cardiff | London [ULU] [Royal Holloway 1 | 2 | 3 ] [SOAS 1 | 2 | 3 ] [Roehampton] [South Bank] [UEL] | Glasgow | Plymouth | Sheffield Feature | Videos | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Brighton 1 | 2 | Oxford 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | Notes from the occupation | Analysis | Cambridge 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Nottingham 1 | 2 | 3 | Manchester 1 | 2 | Lancaster | Warwick 1 | 2 | 3 | Southampton | Loughborough | Hebden Bridge and many more.

Call-out for further action

A further national day of action, a second 'DayX', has been called for next Tuesday 30 November. [ 1 | 2 | List of DayX2 actions ] Places planning 'DayX2' actions now number 35+ and include Nottingham, where the action will begin at 11.30am on Portland Steps 'in solidarity with all student and worker occupations, walkouts and protests internationally' and Cardiff, where there will be a mass walkout of schools, colleges and workplaces to take part in a Carnival Against the Cuts, starting at 3pm at the Nye Bevan Statue, Queen Street.

Coalition of A to B marchers

Meanwhile, at a packed conference called by the Coalition of Resistance in London on Saturday 27 November, speeches were made, many by SWP and Stop the War Coalition leaders, nominations were taken for a national council, Tony Benn was appointed as President and there was brave talk about building a mass movement which would lead to a huge A to B march in London next Spring. Sound familiar? As the report explains: 'with so many new activists seeking solutions, inspiration and ideas, it is a shame to allow the same tired traditionalists to hijack and dampen the creative, passionate exuberance of the students and other street protestors.' One speaker even suggested that Tuesday's national stoppage should only take place in the lunch hour so that no one gets into trouble.

Advice for student activists and occupiers, and special advice for kids from the cops

Advice has been offered via indymedia for students on occupying university and college spaces | taking part in demonstrations and protests | taking photos and video clips | escaping from a police kettle | making reinforced banners.

Not to be outdone, the cops have offered some advice of their own via the mainstream media. The Met has admitted that 'there is only so much we can do' to protect children when protests become violent, presumably referring to violence by its own riot cops, police medics who spray fire extinguishers in people's faces, and mounted cops who charge through crowds of peaceful protesters. However, instead of doing something about the problem, like removing violent cops from the streets, the Met prefers to warn parents how dangerous such events are for vulnerable young people. Yeah, especially when the cops make you join in when you thought you were just going for a Big Mac. Message from the Met: Kids - if you want to stay safe, don't eat at McDonald's.

Round-up of some of the actions so far

In the week beginning 22 November, tens of thousands of students walked out of schools, colleges and universities across the country to join and create protests at government education policies, cuts and 'austerity' measures generally, and specifically against the proposed hike in university fees to £9,000 a year. Many students have occupied spaces in their universities, and have held meetings, workshops and teach-ins in the spirit of free education for all.

In Bristol, several thousand students, along with teachers and lecturers, held a protest in central Bristol. Large numbers were able to break out of the police kettle and some went on to occupy Bristol University Student Union building. The Students Union stands accused of denying its own members the space and opportunity to discuss the proposed cuts to higher education as well as failing to take a stance on the issue. Cops in Bristol were spotted here and here during the protests on Wednesday without their numbers displayed. Hadn't we been told this would never happen again? Earlier in the week, the main building of the Frenchay campus of the University of Western England was also occupied. On Friday 26 November, the occupation was reported to be still going strong, having expanded its occupied space, gained the support of the students union and with a programme of teach-ins and other activities. On Sunday 28 November, a number of groups in Bristol issued a statement of solidarity with student actions and occupations in Bristol and beyond.

In London, around 5,000 people demonstrated in Trafalgar Square before heading down Whitehall, where the progress of the march was blocked by riot vans. Police moved in to create a kettle of around 3,000 people, herding youngsters out of McDonald's and into the kettle on the way. There were maybe 2,000 others outside the kettle and in the surrounding area. Skirmishes took place between police and some of the kettled protesters, fires were lit and an abandoned police van, which some have said amounted to entrapment, trashed. Some of those kettled were still being held late into the evening, and mounted police charged peaceful crowds which included children. Video report | Analysis. There were reports of 32 arrests and 17 injuries, including two police officers. During the day, occupations were reported at Royal Holloway, UCL, South Bank and Roehampton. At the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), already occupied for several days, management attempted to get an injunction to remove the students on Wednesday, while many were at the London protests. The High Court allowed an adjournment until Thursday to allow students time to seek legal advice, with the Judge dismissing management claims that the occupation might become a focal point for the wider demonstrations taking place in London. An injunction was subsequently issued and the SOAS occupiers were expecting to be evicted on Thursday evening. During the day on Thursday, a group of LSE students occupied the offices of Simon Hughes, Deputy Leader of the Lib-Dems. On Friday 26 November, Royal Holloway occupiers issued a statement declaring their 48 hour occupation a success.

In Oxford, after a march which began at 1pm at Carfax tower, a group of students and Oxford residents, together with a sound system, took the authorities by surprise and occupied the iconic Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian Library, with reports of over 100 inside. The authorities had been preventing others from joining the occupation during the day, but a group managed to gain entry by means of critical mass in the early hours of Thursday morning to swell numbers. A statement issued on Thursday declared the occupiers' intention to open the 'Rad Cam' as a 'free space for mutual education, in resistance to the neoliberalisation of higher education announced by the coalition government' and to stay there indefinitely. However, the occupation was brought to an end when cops, including some in riot gear, broke into the building through the barricaded doors and forcibly removed the peacefully resisting occupiers. Analysis | Notes from the occupation.

In Edinburgh, a protest by around 300 students, starting in Bristo Square, joined up with another by 50 workers and benefit claimants outside the offices of A4E to create a march down Lothian Road and on to the Lib-Dem HQ where there was a sit down protest. The march then continued through Edinburgh, with sit-down protests on the roads as it went. There was a brief occupation of the University's Registry Offices before hundreds took possession of Appleton Tower Lecture Theatre 2, with a plan to remain in occupation until demands are met. Early on Thursday morning, the Lib-Dem HQ was targeted again: locks were glued and the handles chained, with a message that 'Lib Dem Lies are Locking us out of our Education.'

Students in Glasgow occupied part of the Strathclyde University building on Ingram Street, with a breakaway group taking the City Chambers, with the success of this apparently hindered by members of the SWP, who prevented other protesters from joining the occupations and reportedly assisted the cops with kettling those on Ingram Street.

In Sheffield, there was a demonstration in the city centre, following which students occupied Sheffield University Hicks Building. During the night, the occupiers reported that security officers were denying undergraduate Astronomy students access to the roof to observe the night sky, and that postgraduates weren’t being allowed in to do their work. The occupiers have expressed their intention to negotiate with tutors to allow all lectures to go ahead. On Thursday, security guards mounted a failed attempt to evict the students forcibly after another group managed to join the occupation, then set off fire alarms to force the evacuation of the building on health and safety grounds. The students have now regrouped and are occupying the space outside the Vice-Chancellor's office in Firth Court.

Brighton students held a lively demo, 2,500-3,000 strong, with brief occupations of the Council Tax offices, a Vodaphone store and reported looting of a chain store. Several police lines were broken and although some groups were kettled, others managed to escape. Pavillion Parade building, part of the University, was occupied by about 70 students. There were reports of police using batons against young students, many of whom were under 18, as well as threatening them with pepper spray. Six arrests were reported.

In Nottingham, there was a rally outside the Portland Building at the University of Nottingham and more than 50 marched to the Trent building with banner. Later, there was a ‘Teach In’ inside the Portland Building. The Tory Party HQ in Nottingham was also closed all day, apparently in fear of further attack.

In Leeds, a thousand students walked out, with the demonstration being joined by many school students.

In Cardiff, 200-300 students stormed the main building of Cardiff University and laid siege to the Vice-Chancellor's office before occupying the Shandon Lecture Theatre. There are currently around 50 students still occupying this space, teach-ins have been taking place, a local co-operative has been supplying food and the students have announced their intention to stay.

In Birmingham, over 30 students occupied the Aston Webb building at the University of Birmingham, with others prevented by security guards from gaining entry. The occupiers have issued a list of demands.

Warwick students occupied a campus conference hall, calling on the university to take steps to resist the cuts. The occupation ended on Thursday morning, in large part because of obstructive behaviour by the university.

See also: Feature on Birmingham and Warwick occupations.

In Manchester, police violence erupted during otherwise peaceful protests. There were reports of four arrests. Roscoe Building of the University of Manchester has been occupied and the occupiers have issued an invitation to others to join them.

In Lancaster, sixth formers and school students led the action, massing at the Town Hall and marching through town, with some university students lending their support and sounds.

In Cambridge, several hundred students took to the streets and then occupied the front lawn of Cambridge University's Senate House, with baton-wielding cops occupying the House itself to prevent the students from doing so. There were reports of two arrests. A decision was made after several hours to leave the occupied lawn en masse. On Friday 26 November, Old Schools, Cambridge, the 'nerve centre' of the University, was occupied. The occupiers have stated that they have claimed the space 'to give students a voice in their University.' Reports from late Friday night and early Saturday morning indicate that the occupation was still going strong at that time, with a solidarity demo taking place at Great St. Mary's on Saturday. Saturday was also graduation day at the occupied building. The University authorities claimed that the occupying students were denying the graduates and their proud parents access to the building, while the occupying students offered everyone tea and biscuits and invited them in. On Monday, the University management was reported to have taken legal action in a bid to evict the students, had switched off the occupied building's wireless internet service and was refusing all offers to communicate with the occupiers in spite of a call by 200 Cambridge academics that it should do so.

In Newcastle, 60 students peacefully occupied the Fine Arts building of Newcastle University after a demonstration and march involving thousands of school, college and uni students. Eldon square shopping centre was taken by storm at one point by hundreds of students with a sound system.

In Plymouth, the Roland Levinsky Building of the University has been occupied since 23 November.

Students from local schools, colleges and the University in Southampton walked out, many attending a rally at the Uni, no thanks to the Student Union, which refused to support the action, declaring it 'too political' as well as claiming to be worried that people might swear.

250 Loughborough college and school students and supporters marched through Loughborough on Wednesday, visiting the University Students Union and the local college, collecting more students along the way before visiting Tory MP Nicky Morgans' office and the council offices.

In Hebden Bridge, school students from Calder High walked out at 11am on Wednesday and marched into town to demonstrate against the cuts. The demonstration was apparently organised by sixth formers but attended by pupils of all ages. Local blog, the Hebden Heckler, reported that students at nearby Todmorden High also staged a walk out.

International Student Protest

Since Wednesday, students across Italy have been protesting and occupying spaces in protest at the 'Gelmini' reforms which will see universities privatised and operated for profit. Actions have taken place in many towns and cities including Rome, Pisa, Milan, Turin, Venice and Palermo. Occupations include the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Rome Colosseum.

Other links: Lasthours map of actions | Anti Cuts |



UKC, Canterbury

24.11.2010 14:32

University of Kent Canterbury students staged a 'Flashmob' demo in the centre of the city early this afternoon regarding the cuts at about 1.15pm.
Reports were on BBC Radio Kent


Winchester students

24.11.2010 14:33

Winchester students and Barton Pevril students marched through Winchester earlier today and attempted the occupation of a college building. After a class with a principal we left but we're going to meet Friday morning to discuss further occupations or demonstrations. The public were all very supportive of us and we had the support of many of our lecturers and the NUT.
Pictures to follow.

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Bodleian library, Oxford occupied

24.11.2010 15:34

The Bodleian library's Radcliffe Camera has been occupied by around 100 students.



Bristol University Students Union Occupation

24.11.2010 17:16

100-200 students are currently occupying the University of Bristol students union following a large student protest today in Bristol. They have tents and supplies and are willing to stay 'as long as possbile'. They are currently holding a meeting to discuss further plans/ aims/ statements/ demands.
*will update with further news


UCL is in Occupation

24.11.2010 18:12

UCL students are occupying part of their University to protest the cuts.

Get in touch and see how you can help out.



Brighton University Occupied

24.11.2010 19:42

Pavillion Parade building - part of Brighton University - has been occupied by about 70 students, in protest at the coming cuts.

Brighton Student