Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Support the Sheffield Uni occupation!

Sheffield university are now in their 8th day of occupation! Please take a minute to help them out by copying and pasting the following text into and email (or writing your own) and sending it to the Vice Chancellor Keith Burnett at vc@sheffield.ac.uk to put some pressure on him to open up negotiations! CC to sheffieldoccupation@google
mail.com, and to Burnett's secretary at r.sharples@sheffield.ac.uk

Professor Burnett -

I understand that, despite a verbal agreement from yourself, negotiations involving the student occupiers and other interested parties are yet to take place. I further understand that the proposed negotiation process, if it takes place at all, will take place without input from the occupiers.

I believe that a negotiation process centrally involving the occupiers (as well as other relevant organisations such as the Palestine Society) is in the interests of all involved, as it is clearly the only way to move the situation forward towards a satisfactory conclusion.

I therefore call on you to listen to the increasing student pressure (on campus and elsewhere) for negotiations around the campaign demands.


Monday, 23 March 2009

Feedback from the last meeting.

Detailed minutes can be found in the Sussex occupation gmail account. This is what we're busy with at the moment...

A big organisational meeting with all involved groups and people has been called for Thursday of week one (23/04). We will be deciding on a group name and identity among other things - write the date down now!

There will be a referendum next term on the issue of a union boycott of Israeli goods. The boycott was the most controversial of all of the occupation demands with much debate and diverse opinion on the useful extent and effectiveness of this tactic. We want to see this continue to be a lively topic engaging students across campus in the run-up to the referendum and to raise people's awareness of the underlying issues... contact the boycott and divestment group at campaigns@ussu.sussex.ac.uk to get involved in planning the campaign.

The Brighton-Tubas friendship and solidarity group will be hosting another delegation of students from Al Quds university (with which Sussex is twinned) on the 20th April (1st week of term). We need to plan events! To get involved or if you have any ideas for activities, or know of any interested groups, societies, academics or departments please contact simon4_@hotmail.com.

Sheffield university are still in occupation. A message of solidarity was sent to them last week (see blog). They are hosting a panel of members of other occupations this Tuesday from 4pm. If anyone would like to go down and represent Sussex (or write a brief account of the Sussex occupation with tips and advice) please let Leila know asap (leila.elqawas@gmail.com) for contact details.

There will be a national gathering in London (UCL) on the 18th April to draw together people from the occupations and other areas of the student movement and think about where we go from here. Everyone is welcome to be a part of the organisation (whether you were involved in the occupations or not): add your name to the organising list by emailing studentcoordination@gmail.com, or contact the national liaison group at sussexnational@gmail.com.

We want to set up a post-occupation website that can function as both a publicity and an organising tool. If you have any ideas or would like to get involved please contact the publicity group at abcs20@sussex.ac.uk.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Statement sent to Sheffield Occupation

To the Sheffield occupation,

The movement born out of the successful student occupation at the University of Sussex gives our wholehearted support and good wishes to the Sheffield occupation. We are disappointed by the heavy-handedness and lack of regard with which the University of Sheffield has treated you, and appalled by the lack of support you have been shown by your own Students' Union. The determination that you continue to show despite these obstacles is testament to the urgency and importance of your objectives and an inspiration to all of us working towards the same ends. We are publicising your actions and your petition among our members and supporters on campus and elsewhere. Please remember that your work is not unrecognised and there are thousands of university students and staff across the country who support your actions and stand in solidarity with you. We know from our own experience that despite the adversity that you face, these aims are realistic and achievable and are worth fighting for. Please let us know if there is anything further that we can do to help.

Yours in solidarity,

The students and staff of the University of Sussex movement.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Meeting and events today and updates.

The last meeting before the easter break will take place today at 2pm (not 4pm as previously). Please come along to figure out how we can make use of this time. Meet Falmer common room.

Where we're at at the moment:

Boycott and divestment working group - have a list of stocks and shares worth £4m of uni investment. We are also liaising with Corporate Watch. Easter will be a time for research. The movement to put traffic light stickers on all produce is currently going through.
Events - Big event highlighting ethical investment issues being planned for next year. There is also talk of a video-link Q&A with a very prominent anti-war academic. Lots of work required to organise - please come and get involved.
Surplus resources - Efforts are currently being made to co-ordinate things on the national level. Help welcomed.
National liaison - We are currently involved in helping to co-ordinate a national student congress on the 18th of April. Open organisation: please email sussexnational@gmail.com to help or add your email to the national list at studentcoordination@gmail.com.

Events today:

Prominent Israeli Socialist Eric Lee - Arts A103 6pm, Wednesday 18th.
Eric Lee will be talking on socialism in Israel. As a controversial figure with a background leading from trade unions and the mayor's office in New York to being a socialist author, journalist and lecturer in Israel, he'll definitely have an interesting perspective on issues in the middle east. Includes time for questions and answers.

Tonight's student night at the Cowley club will again be raising money for the Brighton-Tubas twinning project (who last week brought a women's delegation over from Al Quds university). Cheap organic beer and vegan food and open mic. Come down and celebrate the end of term!

Support to Sheffield:

The management of Sheffield uni have now locked the occupied building so that no one can enter and have threatened the occupation with a court injunction. They have also disrupted students by relocating lectures despite the occupation having made it clear that they wish lectures to continue as normal in the occupied space.

Please sign the petition here:

And copy and paste the following text (feel free to amend or add your own) to Vice Chancellor Keith Burnett at vc@sheffield.ac.uk CCing in Rowann Sharples, his personal secretary, at r.sharples@sheffield.ac.uk, and the occupation at sheffieldoccupation@googlemail.com.

Dear Professor Burnett -

We believe that your position of refusal to engage with the occupiers of the Hicks lecture theatres is entirely unreasonable. The occupation began as a response to your failure to respond to earlier correspondence well before the occupation took place; the onus was on you to continue negotiations and discussions in this manner, and your refusal to do so is what led the occupiers to conclude that direct action was the only option left to them.

Furthermore, the Student Union's statement of condemnation - upon which you base your refusal to negotiate - was predicated entirely on a falsehood. The occupiers have consistently express their willingness for lectures to take place in the occupied space, and indeed have taken it upon themselves to facilitate this despite University management's attempt to unilaterally relocate lectures. The vast majority of students and lecturers who have visited the occupied space have found it a welcoming, non-intimidating environment that would be in no way disruptive to learning and education.

An emergency meeting of the Student Union Executive Officers (which only reached its decision by a majority of 5-3) cannot possibly be held to be meaningfully representative of the wide layers of deeply felt student opinion around this issue. We call on you and other members of the University's senior management to immediately retract your position of refusal to negotiate with the occupiers and enter into open discussions with them.

Additionally we would like to condemn the heavy handed and overblown reaction by the management to the occupation with regard to threats received today in relation to legal action against participants.

Yours -

[Insert your name and contact details here]

You can also ring Rowann Sharples on (0114) 222 1006.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Sheffield occupied today!

Breaking news!

Two lecture theatres at Sheffield University have been occupied in solidarity with Palestine since 7pm this evening! Check out their blog at http://sheffoccupied.blogspot.com.

Slightly older news...

Newcastle have been successful in negotiating some of their demands following a short occupation of the fine arts building on their campus from 10th-11th March.

Having finally taken the decision to end the occupation with the demo following a whole month occupying various university buildings, Manchester Uni have made some progress in negotiations with the demand for the shipping of surplus resources having been fully met along with greater transparency over the university's investment portfolio. They also have a student slate standing for union election this Thursday.

There have also been news of two other student occupation actions in Okinawa, Japan (over lay-offs and course reductions) and in the Technological Institute of Puerto Rico, Manati (over closure of facilities and overpopulation of students).

General meeting this Wednesday is at 2pm!!! Meet Falmer Common Room.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Updates and events

What we have been doing:

On Thursday, a member of the boycott and divestment group spoke as part of a panel at the War on Want talk 'Banking on Bloodshed' updating us on progress relating to the occupation demands.

Last Friday we were honoured to have a talk from 19-year old Israeli student and war-refuser Tamar Katz, who was jailed several times for defying military conscription. She spoke of the incredible difficulties of political dissent including widespread social stigma, estrangement from family and friends, lack of organisational support due to the illegality of political criticism and media complicity in maintaining the occupation.

On Sunday a group of Sussex students blockaded the main depot of Carmel-Agrexco, which imports agricultural produce from illegal settlements in the West Bank to supply supermarkets across the UK. Several people blockaded the gates, locking themselves to ladders, and one person superglued themselves to the tarmac. Several trucks were unable to deliver produce to the depot, and no arrests were made. This direct action was carried out in solidarity with the students of Jayyous who were arrested when the Israeli military stormed their village on 18th February and who have called for a boycott. Since then, the village has been invaded two further times, with a curfew imposed on the town and residents also threatened with home demolitions.

Also on Sunday a representative from the occupation spoke on a panel at the Oxford Radical Forum with students from other occupations about the national wave and the potential for a new radical student movement. A national congress is planned for April 18th. To get involved in organising this event, contact the national liaison working group at sussexnational@gmail.com, and add your name to the organising list at studentcoordination@gmail.com.

We have also written an update for our fellow students on the progress that has been made on the implementation of our demands so far, which you can find here, or pinned to the door of Arts A2.

Don't forget to vote in the referendum to get rid of the military from our campus! Voting tomorrow and Thursday in the library.

What we have planned:

Tomorrow (Weds) there will be a party at the Cowley Club to raise money for the Brighton-Tubas twinning group. There will be cheap vegan food and drink from 7pm and an open mic...

This Thursday, the Women’s Delegation from the West Bank of Palestine will be visiting Sussex University, to relate their experiences as women living in the occupied territories. The speakers are Sirien, a student from Al-Quds University, who has been closely involved in the twinning project with Sussex; and Ghada, a member of the Patients and Friends Society in Jenin. Entrance is free and there will be time for questions and answers. (Pevensey 2, Rm 5A17, 4-5:30pm).

Meetings this week:

Weds 3pm - Boycott and Divestment group meeting. Meet Falmer common room, or library square if the weather is nice.

Weds 4pm - General organisational meeting, meet Falmer common room.

A Statement from the Sussex Occupation - An Update on our Current Action

Sussex students occupied lecture hall Arts A2 from January 21st to January 28th to show their support for the sufferers in Gaza and to call upon the University to take positive action. In this week we gathered a lot of support within and outside of the University Community, and most importantly raised awareness about the diabolical actions of the Israeli Government; which unfortunately continue almost two months on. Though the Occupation of Arts A002 has ended, we wish to update you on our current actions in terms of following up our demands and showing continuing solidarity with the people of Palestine.

1. That the University of Sussex issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza strip.

The University not only condemned the Israeli Government's breach of UN Human Rights Law; but also called for the Government to retreat to its 1967 borders and condoned the suspected use of war crimes including the murdering of innocent citizens.

2. That the University of Sussex cease to invest directly or indirectly in companies complicit in human rights abuses in the Gaza strip and internationally.

Some excellent research has been done and it is now broadening to ethical investment more generally (which everyone seems to agree is a natural progression). We are assessing the companies which the university invests in, and how best to pressure the university administration to form an ethical investment policy.

3. That no Israeli goods or goods produced by companies that have directly funded the State of Israel be sold on campus.

4. That the University of Sussex provide complete financial scholarships for three students from Al-Quds Open University in Tubas with which USSU is twined and three students from Gaza University which has been bombed by the Israeli military.

We are working co-operatively with the university to help Palestinian students as much as we can; several delegations have been going back and forth between universities on occupied Palestinian Land. Hard work is continuing though, and we are determined to honour our sister University.

5. That any surplus educational resources available to the University of Sussex are provided to Gaza University and that the shipping of these resources be fully paid for by the University of Sussex.

We are imminently in negotiations with the IT Sevices and the library as to how to secure and send off resources. We would like to thank everyone who donated clothes and art supplies to the Palestinian Convoy a few weeks ago, they are being sorted through in preparation for being sent.

6. That there be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation.

There have been no repercussions for any of the 80 students involved - for this we are grateful, and we are continuing the hard work.

We always welcome new, enthusiastic members to help us achieve our demands so please feel free to come to one of our weekly organisational meetings at 4 o'clock Wednesdays in Falmer Common Room.

In continuing solidarity,
The Sussex Occupation