The university administration has also agreed to help students send money and surplus LSE computers and library books to Palestine and work towards setting up more scholarships for Palestinians.
The group has planned a day of lectures and rallies for Tuesday to put pressure on the School to issue a statement condemning the Israeli attacks on academic institutions in Gaza, divest from arms firms that supply Israel and finalise the details of its pledges.
George Galloway MP and Dan Gudelson of Jews for Justice are among those who will speak at the occupied theatre.
A spokesperson said, “We are asking for a simple statement condemning the attacks on educational institutions in Gaza. For years we have been going through official channels to demand action on Palestine, but nothing has happened – this is our last resort and we will stay in the Old Theatre until our remaining demands are met.”
The students have arranged a meeting with top LSE officials to take place on Tuesday in the occupied theatre to discuss the implementation of their demands.
40 students started the occupation in solidarity with Palestine last Thursday afternoon after LSE Director Howard Davies failed to meet any requests sent in a letter signed by 250 students and alumni immediately after the start of the Israeli offence against Gaza. The move comes after the Students’ Union voted to condemn Israel for the attacks on Gaza.
The number of occupiers has since doubled, with dozens more visiting regularly to express their solidarity. The group has received messages of support from students in universities across the world as well as academics, NGOs and politicians.
Tony Benn came to speak at the occupied lecture theatre on Friday, drawing a crowd of over 350 students. “I have seen the statement of intent that you have made and I agree with it one hundred percent.” he said, “Don't think that you're an isolated little group at the LSE. In my judgement I believe there is mass support for what you are doing from all over the world.”
The LSE is the second university after SOAS whose students have occupied a building in solidarity with Palestine. On Friday, 50 Essex students occupied one of their lecture theatres. At least three more universities are to join next week, whose identities are being kept secret.
DEMANDS AND PROGRESS:
1) The LSE should issue a statement condemning Israel’s attack on Palestinians’ right to education. Howard Davies has already agreed to issue a statement in a personal capacity condemning the humanitarian disaster.
2) The LSE must divest from BAe and other arms companies who supply the Israeli military. Unfortunately, the administration’s responses to this demand have been inconsistent.
3) Provide 5 new scholarships to Palestinians. Some progress has been made on this issue. However, in his latest response, Howard Davies has attempted to backtrack by obfuscating the matter.
4) Actively support a fundraising day. Davies has agreed to this in principle, but concrete plans are yet to emerge.
5) Send all surplus and old books and computers to educational institutions in Palestine. Howard Davies has commendably agreed to this demand. We have yet to receive written confirmation that the university will cover the costs of shipping.
6) Amnesty for all students, which has been granted. Howard Davies himself has said that we “held scrupulously” to our pledge that no damage and no disruption to lectures would happen.
NOTES TO EDITORS
1) Please view our previous press release for more information. http://lseoccupation.blogspot.com/2009/01/press-release.html .
2) The identity of other universities who will start occupations is being kept secret. Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) For more information on the SOAS occupation: http://soassolidarity4gaza.blogspot.com/
4) For more information on the Essex occupation: http://www.visitpalestine.asia/page.cfm/id/98207
5) For the motion on Gaza passed by the Students’ Union: http://lseoccupation.blogspot.com/2009/01/student-union-passes-motion-condemning.html