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Response to the University of Birmingham with regards to our Occupation: Reinven

Defend Birmingham | 24.11.2011 01:33 | Occupy Everywhere | Education | Public sector cuts | Repression | Birmingham

Earlier today we were told we are already facing disciplinary action and would have to pay the “substantial” cost of the university’s legal fees for an injunction they will take out against us if we do not leave by 9am tomorrow. The threat to the university and the system of public education is so grave that we are more afraid of the risks posed to society at large than our own immediate future. As such we have resolved to stay. We believe that students nationally must take action to defend education, despite the risks.

As we previously declared UoB students occupied a completely unused space on campus in order to educate people about the white paper and to start a dialogue about whether the university’s planned course of action was in the best interest of students, staff and education. The university’s action against us has shown how misplaced their priorities are and how far they’re willing to go to suppress dissent.

The university’s justification for its disproportionate response is that it “needs to preserve its assets.” They view an unused wasted building as an asset but preserving our futures to be a liability. Our occupation doesn’t disrupt the functioning of the university in any way; it recycles an unused building for the purpose of education. The university’s response was to summon, at its height: five police, ten security and three senior managers; six security are deployed 24 hours a day to make sure that no-one is allowed access to the occupation and to detain any who leave.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our sympathy and solidarity to the dozens of universities also taking part in this struggle for the future of our universities. Also, we would also like to thanks the Occupy movement and the thousands of people who are following our blog.

The university is not acting against us because we are being unreasonable or because we are disrupting its functions but because they have a mafia mentality that makes them meet any sign of dissent with disproportionate force. The only way we can respond to their threats is by a show of strength not by capitulation. We wanted to consult widely with the student body in order to come up with a series of goals and demands but for obvious reasons this has not been possible. We therefore issued the following statement to the university. We will vacate the premises of this building if the university signs the VC pledge…

1. To publicly condemn the White Paper and call for it to be withdrawn

2. To guarantee no course closures

3. To guarantee no job cuts and no adverse changes to staff terms and conditions

4. To provide bursaries for all students who need them – not fee waivers

5. To guarantee no cuts to library, student support or learning resources

6. To guarantee no cuts to access schemes or foundation courses

7. To guarantee that the university will remain public, and a not-for-profit body.

8. And does not victimise those who have taken part in the occupation.

The university can afford to pay for all these things however it is choosing to invest in pointless prettification of the campus instead of defending education.

Defend Birmingham
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