Friday, 23 January 2009

Further information on our demands

We have had lots of interesting discussion with students and others around campus about our occupation demands. Some people requested more information on the general background and implication of our demands. We are hoping to schedule an informational public meeting very soon on this topic; in the meantime here are some further thoughts on the motivations behind our demands...


In occupying Arts A2 we aim to create a space that allows for free debate and discussion within the student body on the Israeli/Palestine issue. Whilst the students of the occupation come from a wide range of motivations and perspectives we are all united in our support of the people of Gaza. We actively encourage all students who wish to contribute their ideas as to how we as students can offer practical humanitarian relief, whilst at the same time pressuring our governments and institutions to take a progressive stance toward an issue that is increasingly becoming a humanitarian and political crisis. We wish to take this opportunity to explain the reasons behind the demands, and what we aim to achieve through them.


1) As an educational institution we feel that the University of Sussex has an obligation to defend educational institutions worldwide. This can be through a statement condemning the destruction of educational institutions, such as the bombing of the Islamic University of Gaza and two UN schools. In line with Academic and Student Unions across the country we feel that the University of Sussex must play a role in actively supporting and facilitating humanitarian relief to a region scarred by violent conflict and the ongoing blockade. We also feel that our university should be speaking out against all humanitarian atrocities of this scale.

2) The University of Sussex currently holds a total of £5,762 in arms manufacturers Cobham Inc and General Electric. As fee-paying students, we demand that our fees not be invested in companies complicit in the war crimes that have taken place in Gaza, such as the use of white-phosphorous.

3) By selling Israeli goods on campus, the profits from which are used in part to fund the IDF, the University is demonstrating complicity with war crimes. As such the boycott is not intended to incur any suffering by the Israeli people but rather to put pressure on the Israeli government to act, in much the same spirit as was shown by the university during the apartheid (when all South African produce was banned). We would like to invite everybody to come and discuss why we believe that this is of fundamental importance at a public informational session next Monday.

4) During the most recent military assault on Gaza, the Islamic University of Gaza was partially destroyed along with two UN schools, amounting in over 50 civilian deaths. Access to education is a human right which has been consistently denied to Palestinians by Israel, most recently through the destruction of educational institutions in Gaza, but also through the on-going economic blockade which has resulted in shortages of educational resources.

We demand that our University offers 6 scholarships to Palestinians who are unable to continue their studies due to Israeli actions. Each yeah our university extends paid scholarships to a quota of national and international students. The scholarship that is exclusive to UK students was not entirely exhausted last year, and the money left over has as yet not been used in conjunction with this, or any other scholarship scheme. We insist that the principle of providing funding for students less privileged than us be upheld properly and also extended to Palestine to make it possible for students to finish their education.

5) Large amounts of disused PCs are in storage on campus. These resources are not needed by students here, and if donated to Palestinian educational facilities would not result in a reduction of services here at Sussex. The University would otherwise have to pay for disposal of these resources, so instead we propose that these funds been spent on shipping and postage to Palestine.

6) It is our lawful right to peaceful protest. It is our explicit intention that this occupation be conducted in a manner that is respectful to our fellow students and non-disruptive of lectures. We demand that these rights be fully respected by the University of Sussex.


  1. Firstly I wish to state that I absolutely support the right to freedom of speech and believe that the university should encurage active discussion. I believe that university should be a forum for discussion, but do not feel that this has occurred with the occupation.

    I am sympathetic to the situation in Gaza and have great respect for all students involved in the protest who have such strength of belief. However, as I mentioned earlier, I personally, and believe others, share my opinion, that the demands levelled, which will of course, if met, impact on the student body at the university as a whole, should not be made solely by university management under duress from the body of students occupying Arts A2.

    I also have felt unable to express my opinions before now due to the aggressive nature of the previous talks and the attitudes of some of the people involved. Therefore, I feel that while upholding the rights of the people in the protest, others are being undermined.

    I greatly admired the students who stood up and spoke in lectures, and appreciated their intentions to show respect to the students at the university, however on each of the occassions I have been in the lecture theatre, I have and the teachers have suffered much disruption. The protestors are NOT respectful, and in enforcing their rights, are directly impinging mine, and others like me. I have had protestors snoring behind me, which is not only disruptful, but plain rude, listening to iPods so loudly it can be heard over the lecturer, and talking, not to mention continual disruption as people come in and out. The lecturers have even been moved to ask for respect. This should not be the format for freedom of speech and demonstration of belief.

    In relation to the demands, I believe that the university should show its respect to the protestors and aid publicity of their interests, and feel that the university should be APPLUADED for all they have done so far in allowing visitors to talk on behalf of the protests, allowing students to speak at the beginning of every lecture about their cause and respecting the views of this body of students.

    However, I feel that to offer 6 scolarships is un-meritocratic, yes the people in Gaza are suffering, have suffered for years, on both sides, but equally there are many others equally deserving. I have international student friends who are paying £10,000 per year to attend out institution, and to who a scholarship would be hugely appreciated, whereas the burden of having to work to try to save enough to attend university next year even is immense.

    In relation to the other demands, I believe that as we are a democratic nation, student opinion should be taken into account, not merely the opinions of those courageous enough to stand up and shout their views.

    Once again, I support the right to freedom of speech, but do not believe that my rights should suffer as a result. I am entitled to attend lectures without distraction, hear perspectives on both sides without aggression and violence and believe that the university should not be attacked in such a way.

    I sincerely hope that the university can continue to work with the students to ensure their right to be heard is upheld, but equally I hope thnat democracy, meritocracy and respect is given on both sides to ensure no one suffers for the demands of what may be, I have not done a poll, those of a minority body.

    Lastly, I implore the students in the occupation to consider the rights of others and respect others who are respecting them for the duration of their occupation.

    Many Thanks


  2. I would like to congratulate you on your great achievement and offer the full support and services of FOSIS Campaigns. Keep up the good work and please do let me know if we can be of any help!