Update (20/05/12): After a month, Occupy Brookes decided to pack up. The camp's demands were almost entirely ignored by management but many people nevertheless felt it was a valuable experience, building links, raising awareness, and establishing a precedent for action that can be taken further in the future.
Since Wednesday 18th April, a group of Oxford Brookes students and supporters have been camping in front of Gipsy Lane campus to demand free education for all, and more specifically and immediately, that the University switch from fee waivers to bursaries.
The camp has now survived over two weeks of extremely wet weather, hosted various workshops and discussions, and received lots of verbal support and sympathy. A letter containing 3 basic demands was sent to the authorities early on, but there has been no substantial response from them, and the group's next steps have yet to be decided.
Anyone supportive or curious is very welcome to come visit or stay, and upcoming workshops and meetings are listed on the blog.
On Wednesday 15th students from around the country joined students from Birmingham to protest the injunction the university has obtained banning all forms of occupational protest for 12 months. The university has been heavily criticised by human rights groups including Amnesty, Liberty and the Index on Censorship calling the actions aggressive and censorious. Sabina Frediani, campaigns co-ordinator for Liberty has been quoted as saying “Universities should be places where ideas and opinions can be explored and they should be engaging with the students in their care – not criminalising them. How exactly will taking out court orders against protest encourage future applications from aspiring undergraduates?”
The march started at the guild of students and several attempts were made during the march to gain access to various buildings on campus but were stopped by the overly aggressive security who had the backup of police, on standby around the campus. The route of the A to B march was quickly abandoned in favour of something a bit more impromptu and resulted in a demo outside the building where the disciplinary hearing was taking place for Simon Furse, the only student in the country to be disciplined by a university for taking part in an occupation. The disciplinary had already been disrupted once earlier in the day as a group of students stormed the room and read out statements.
The march continued on in an impromptu fashion after this until a door with no security was found, at which point the march became an occupation, breaking the injunction. The building in question just happened to be the University’s Corporate Conference Centre in Staff House which was occupied in November, the first in this latest round of occupations.
On the Newswire: Calling all students, take back your campus | Occupation - Defending the Right to Protest | University of Birmingham Corporate Conference Centre occupied - over 100 students | Take back your campus
Related Features: Your Education is Being Sold: Occupy the Academy! | Student’s squat gatehouse at University of Birmingham | Birmingham University Students Occupy Corporate Conference Centre | Council House & universities occupied: students reject cuts and fees hike |
Students have once again begun a round of occupations on university campuses, this time in solidarity with the N30 day of action, and in opposition to the White Paper on Higher Education which will give the private sector almost complete control over higher education and knowledge production.
Update: Friday 25/11: The occupation of the north gate ended last night after Birmingham University gained an immediate interim possession order. There is another occupation planned today where protestors will be doing a 'run for their money'.
At Birmingham University, students have squatted an abandoned gate house on campus. Earlier this month they also occupied the University's Corporate Convention Centre. With scenes reminiscent of the 2009 occupation in solidarity with Gaza, the University attempted to deny occupiers essential supplies of food and water. In the early hours of the morning a crowd formed in solidarity with the occupiers and they managed to get past security and deliver some vital food supplies. Since then the occupiers have had a rough night and have been subjected to violence and harrasement from the University's security. At a former occupation of the University's 'Physics Bridge' a similar assault occurred. The occupiers have responded with a statement condemning the repression and victimisation. They have pointed out that the University's plans to 'prettify' the campus and it's intention to cut courses, jobs, access schemes and bursaries are completely at odds with defending universal access to education.
University occupations have also started In Edinburgh, Warwick, York, London and Cambridge. In the USA UC Davis students have been subjected to repression as they struggle against increased tuition fees and police brutality on campus. [More]
From the newswires:
'No platform for filth' | Analysis of the white paper | Rough night for Birmingham occupiers | David Willetts Silenced | St. Andrews in Third Occupation | New site occupied in Bloomsbury
Last night student activists reoccupied the University of Birmingham by squatting a disused former gatehouse at the north gate. This is the second time the university has been occupied this month and was part of a day of action called by NCAFC after the N9 demo. Occupations have become a regular occurrence at the university so this time the occupation has been escalated by actually squatting a disused building.
The day of action was well publicised and the University were keen to avoid the further embarrassment of another occupation so sent out letters to all departments which included the following paragraph “The planned student protest for 23rd November is targeting University administrative hubs. Whilst the Aston Webb and other locations will be subject to the usual security measures, please consider the security of your College hub as these might also be prone to occupation.”
Despite these measures students easily managed to outwit security by beginning the occupation at around 12:40am in the morning in an unused building on the north gate. A statement on the Defend Birmingham websites states: “We have done this because despite the university and government taking increasingly regressive measures to make universities inaccessible, we are determined to keep the gates open. Our aim is to advance a set of demands centred on justice in education and educational institutions. We want people to be treated as human beings and the university to be run for public good, not as a business.”
At around 11:15 The University security started refusing entry in and out of the occupation denying the students access to food and water in an effort to drive them out. At 1:40 a crowd formed to show their support outside the building and at 1:49 managed to get past security and deliver some food.
Previous features: "You Can Shove Your Rubber Bullets Up Your Arse!": 'Total Policing' of N9 Demos |Birmingham University Students Occupy Corporate Conference Centre | Political policing in Birmingham | Council House & universities occupied: students reject cuts and fees hike
Links: Defend Birmingham
Students and construction workers got their first taste of the 'Total Policing' advocated by new Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe at the demonstrations held on November 9th in London.
The MET used intimidatory tactics on Student demonstrators, in the run-up to the day, with threatening letters being sent out to those arrested at previous demos, along with threats of rubber bullets broadcast via the corporate media.
The MET tactics appeared to have some success with numbers on the demo much lower than expected. Those that did join found that the whole march took place in an enormous kettle, which they were unable to leave, with all side roads blocked off, and police in riot gear at junctions. In addition to the thousands of uniformed cops controlling the route, plain clothes cops infiltrated the crowd, making an aggressive arrest.
The corporate media continued to mainly ignore the demos organised by the 'Sparks' and UNITE, for construction workers who are under threat from massive pay cuts as their employers ditch pay agreements. Sparks who wished to show solidarity with the Students, were prevented from doing so and found themselves kettled later in the afternoon.
Elsewhere in London, RMT affiliated cabbies brought Trafalgar Square and the Strand to a standstill, and UK Uncut disrupted the speech of the Permanent Secretary for Tax of HM Customs and Revenue at a Corporate Tax Conference
Previous Feature: Sparks Will Fly on November 9th!
On the Newswire: Authorities panicking over November 9 protest! | Police harass activists traveling by coach to nov9 protests | a few pics and words on november 9 student protest | Nov9 The final kettle, arrests and dispersal | Cabbies Protest
Video: Nov9 Sparks push through police lines | #Nov9 Arrest of protester by undercover police | Violent arrest of a protester during #Nov9 by a large group of undercover cops
Plainclothes Cops: N9: Pics of moment undercover cops arrest protester | N9 arrest figures from Met police | Undercover Cop Faces at N9 | N9 new police tactics: Undercover cops active and aggressive
Analysis: After Nov 9: Where do we go from here? | N9: The Bigger Picture
Fat Cat bosses from the eight largest construction businesses are seekingto further expand profit margins through moves that would see industry workers lose up to a third of their take home pay. The employers seek to withdraw from various agreements including the Joint Industrial Board (J.I.B.) agreement, and to impose new contracts which would downgrade safety and skill levels. Earlier this month, Balfour Beatty issued 1700 termination notices to workers, and began sacking those who took part in protests and refused to cross picket lines.
Rank and file electricians, calling themselves 'The Sparks' have challenged both their employers and the UNITE union by launching their own wildcat actions whilst remaining in the union. London actions to date include two blockades of Blackfriars station construction site, a picket outside Stratford's new Westfield Shopping Centre and most recently an attempt to blockade 110 Cannon Street, a site run by Gratte Brothers. On arrival the Sparks found that management had already closed the site, and headed for Cannon Street Tube where they held a short rally before marching to the #OccupyLSX camp outside St. Pauls. Outside of London actions have taken place at Sellafield, Grangemouth and Ratcliffe power stations, and Lindsey oil refinery.
Next Wednesday the Sparks will be joined by plumbers, and heating and ventilation engineers from across the country. They plan to assemble at the Shard near London Bridge at 11.30am before marching to the Blackfriars Station site and then on to parliament.
Also taking place on the day, will be the national demonstration against fees, cuts and privatisation which will bring together university, further education and school students from across the country to stage the biggest education protest in the capital since last December. Also planned is a mass walkout of schools, FE colleges and universities by students in support of the demo. The “March on the City” will see thousands descending on the streets of London, starting at the University of London Union, Malet Street through Trafalgar Square and up the Strand, before passing #OccupyLSX camp outside St. Pauls and ending at London Metropolitan University Moorgate campus next to the City of London, the heart of the financial capital. The day of protest is aimed at the government’s education reform bill which is a crude attempt to corporatise the education sector.
On the newswire: Sparks blockade Blackfriars station site | Siteworkers and OccupyLSX blockade Blackfriars | Latest London sparks protest | Electricians/Sparks Protest in Newcastle | Proposed Electricians Pay Cut Sparks Resistance | Manchester support the Sparks! | National Construction Industry action Nov 9th
On November 2nd there was a call-out for students and staff at the University of Birmingham to protest against tuition fees, cuts and privatisation. At 2pm they gathered under the University Clock tower to listen to speeches from several students about the effects the rise in tuition fees will have and the negative impacts of privatisation within education. There was concern that the Higher Education White Paper will force Universities to act more like private companies. The government argues that the introduction of competition into the sector will increase choice and quality of education for students. However many of the campaigners felt that this will create a US style model of a few elite, inaccessible universities and a large pool of underfunded poor institutions. There was also anger over the private sector-style pay rises received by the managers at the University. Last year, the Vice-Chancellor David Eastwood received an 11% pay rise increasing his pay to £392,0004. The money the University 'saved' by closing the entire Sociology Department was blown in one year on management pay rises.
Upcoming Protest: N9 Anarchist Bloc on the Student/Education demo
UPDATE: Audio recordings of 3 workshops and the plenary are available.
All welcome to this year's Sheffield Free School event, on Saturday 15th October 2011, from 10am till 8pm, at CADS (Creative Arts Development Space) Snow Lane Entrance, Shalesmoor, S3 7AL (5 mins from city centre, next to "Kit Locker").
This is a Free School NOT of the type created under the present government, but in the long tradition of autonomous self-organised activities. It's being run by the Sheffield Social Centre project, which aims to establish a permanent space for non-hierarchical, anti-capitalist and non-discriminatory activity in Sheffield.
People in Sheffield are coming together to resist the tide of consumer capitalism, exploitation and crisis, creating a space for the free sharing of skills, ideas and knowledge. Come along to the Sheffield Free School ? maybe even to share a skill of your own.
The day's line up includes a whole list of workshops, practical activities, food, film, stalls, fun and friendly stuff.
Following that, everyone's welcome to the evening benefit gig (£4, £3 concessions) at the nearby Redhouse Pub, 168 Solly Street S1 4BB.
Asylum has been high on the agenda recently as 24 Iraqi refugees went on hunger strike in Campsfield House. This was followed up with a very successful blockade of deportation coaches near Heathrow Airport [ 1 | 2 ] by No Borders.
Anti-military action has also been around recently. First, a group of Oxford-based campaigners managed to force the the British Government to admit that it was still training Bahraini officers, despite the brutality going on in that country as part of the 'Arab Spring.' This was followed by an apparently unconnected act of resistance against the military as the armed forces building in Oxford was daubed with red paint.
Fighting the cuts continued with the return of the Big Society Hospital, the launch of the Save Garsington Buses Campaign, and the continuing refusal of the City Council to listen to the public.
Education was on the agenda as activists told Grayling exactly want they thought of his plans for private universities, whilst locally based NGO - People & Planet published the Green League asking 'how green is your university?'
Climate change concerns raised their head again as the defendants from the Ratcliffe 114 (many from Oxford) launched an appeal against their convictions, and Oxford-based Campbell Road Productions announced their new film investigating the Tar Sands.
In other news, the summer also saw the fourth happening of the Oxford Radical Forum.
Don't forget to keep posting your news here on Oxford Indymedia.
In the past Sheffield Indymedia has hosted its own fringe documentary film festival alongside the international annual event hosted at the Showroom Cinema, this year Access Space are hosting Open Splice: an afternoon of short open source documentaries on Friday 10th. Although we don't have the time and energy for our own screenings this this year the main event has a number of great looking films of interest to activists, including the première of the new British Film about climate change related direct action, Just Do It and the UK première of If a Tree Falls about the Earth Liberation Front.