Rumours of a victory circulated among the occupiers yesterday after management released a statement which at first sight seemed to respond positively to most of our demands. However, after a closer reading and some discussion, the general sentiment was that we were quite pleased with management’s draft and after discussion decided to add some minor additions to the text, in the interest of clarity. The draft document, with which management wanted to come to “mutual consent” and an end to the occupation, outlined the establishment of a scholarship scheme “that extended opportunities available for students from regions affected by conflict or catastrophe.” It also said they would attempt to increase the number of applicants from Palestine. We made some revisions to management’s text, which came to read:
“The University will undertake to work with USSU to establish an international scholarship scheme, the Mahmoud Darwish scheme, functional as of the academic year 2009-2010, that extends opportunities available for students from regions affected by conflict or catastrophe, seeking to promote the idea that the victims of the recent conflict in Palestine should be the beneficiaries of this scholarship scheme.”
The rest of the text on scholarships was left intact. A small amendment was made concerning the boycott demand, namely that the University would work with the USSU Ethical and Environmental Committee specifically, rather than just the USSU executive. A small compromise was made, in that the source of foods would now be labelled clearly so that people can make a conscious choice on whether they want to buy Israeli products or not, rather than outright boycott of these products.
This morning at 8am, an email from Phil Harvey, the University’s registrar, arrived outlining the VC’s “deep disappointment” at our response. It read: “The amendments add very little of substance to an agreement that Professor Wright and I explained to you very carefully yesterday needed to be settled and the occupation ended last night.” Further occupation of the lecture hall was deemed unacceptable. We were given an ultimatum until 9am this morning to agree to the statement and leave Arts A2, or management would withdraw the statement.
An emergency meeting was held today at 11am about this last email, and the general consensus was that the attitude from management seemed awkward. If our amendments added “very little of substance” to an agreement that “needed to be settled and the occupation ended last night”, why was there “deep disappointment” from the VC?
The occupation continues and we are looking forward to having further communications with management today.