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...
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
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.
WHAT ARE WE AIMING TO ACHIEVE?
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.