Friday, 23 January 2009

Schedule of events Saturday

We will be holding point-by-point discussions on our demands in Arts A2 from 12:00pm until 5:00pm.

12-1pm Statement
1-2pm Divestment
2-3pm Boycott
3-4pm Scholarships
4-5pm Shipping of resources

5-7pm Film showing: Paradise Now
7-8pm Feedback on safer spaces policy

We have also kindly been given use of the Friend's Meeting House, scheduled events are as follows:

10-12pm Consensus decision making workshop
12-1pm Discussion and formulation of 'safer spaces' policy

5-6pm Chill-out: massage and relaxation

Please come along and get involved in as many of these events as you wish. There will also be creative activities throughout the day.

Update Friday evening

We must be getting better at this: tonight our evening meeting finished exactly on time! Our third full day of occupation was as action-packed as ever: after being rudely awoken at 8am by the invigorating sounds of Wham blaring out over the speakers, we set about the day's activities: updating publicity, speaking to students and other university members, meeting journalists, cooking, conducting research pertaining to the demands, maintaining the silent occupation during lectures, and many more things that comprise the daily organisational activities of an occupation.

The infostall outside Arts A2 is full of flyers, timetables of events, relevant reading material and other useful information (as well as the petition) to read or to take away with you so please come along and have a look.

We had an excellent speaker session today comprising members of Sussex university faculty: Jan Selby from International Relations, Alana Lentin from Sociology who gave a biographically informed account of the conflict, and Andrew Chitty from the Philosophy department (thanks for the donations guys!) who gave a historical account of the conflict and the need for a one-state solution. We also heard from Mark Cushman from LSE (who were recently successful in achieving their occupation demands) who gave an excellent account of the strategies and ideologies of the Israeli occupation as it manifests itself in the day-to-day realities of life in Palestine. A lively discussion on the method of boycott ensued: we will be holding a public informational session on this topic next Monday. Later on in the day we heard from Stuart Halforty from Stop the War coalition.

Massive congratulations and solidarity to the 100+ Cambridge university students who have staged a peaceful occupation of a law building on their campus tonight. You heard how excited we all were! We also have news that Bristol, Nottingham, Kingston, Manchester university and Salford have all occupied! A round-up is given in an article in tomorrow's Guardian, in which Sussex students are quoted (with a lovely photo). More press reports forthcoming: keep an eye on the 'Media' links-list for info.

We spent some time tonight discussing our group dynamics and how to ensure a welcoming environment for all that is conducive to everybody being able to contribute to the organisation and decision-making process in equal measure. It was decided that a working group will draft a safer spaces policy tomorrow that will then be reviewed and adopted by the group. In this way our occupation combines our serious motivational objectives for concrete positive effects in Palestine with the creation of a positive political reality within our own community.

We have many exciting events scheduled (and in the process of being scheduled) for the weekend, including a workshop being hosted at 10am tomorrow on consensus decision making. We will also use the time to creatively reorganise our space to create a more visual and informative environment. A delegation will also be representing us at the national demonstration in London tomorrow.

We have had no further communication to speak of regarding our demands from the vice-chancellor's office. We are going to take this weekend to consolidate our research and ideas in order to have something solid and fully representative of all of the opinions of the occupation to resume dialogue next week.

Of course, there are no lectures timetabled now until Monday morning, so please come down any time to join in activities and get involved.

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.

Call for information

With regard to our second demand, that the university divest from companies complicit in human rights abuses, the university management expressed interest in the information that we previously published on their current investments in companies manufacturing arms: Cobham Inc and General Electric. They informed us that they have existing ethical investment policy guidelines in place and requested that we provide them with any further information that we have on current unethical investments so that they can investigate these. If you have any information or research that would help with this request then please send it to

Hot lunch today

An extra hot meal has been scheduled for 12pm today to be served outside Arts A2 in addition to the daily meal at 7pm. All food is free (any donations welcome).

We were also relieved to hear that the disgusting and unlawful management siege on occupying Manchester Metropolitan students has been broken. This happened by staff bringing biscuits, fruit, coffee and tea. We say:

Message from Sussex Occupation to Manchester Metropolitan University: 
"Biscuits and tea are at the centre of any good occupation. We're glad that your supply has been replenished by supportive academics and staff. Shame on Manchester Met management! Solidarity from Sussex."

Friday 23rd

Timetable for Friday 23rd

9am- Press and publicity working group meetings

9am-2.30pm- Occupation continues throughout lectures

2.30pm- Sussex academics speak on the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, and in support with the occupation. Confirmed speakers: Jan Selby (department of International Relations), Alana Lentin (Sociology), Mark Cushman (LSE occupation).

5pm- Stop the War representative visits occupation.

7pm- Organising meeting.

Forthcoming events/meetings:

Skype link with Palestine on monday evening.

Public information meeting about the demand to boycott Israeli goods on campus.

Consensus decision making workshop Saturday, time to be confirmed.

There are social events yet to be organised, including a fundraiser and gig.

If you would like to organise an event, have a skill or some knowledge you would like to share, or want to come and speak to the occupation please send an email to The occupied space is free and open; if you have any you views you would like to share or contributions you would like to make everyone is welcome.

Update Thursday evening

A record number of students are spending the night in the occupied Arts A2 tonight (our third night of occupation). The general mood is of tiredness and relief following a mammoth organisational meeting which finished just half an hour ago, but spirits are high and we are all looking forward to getting on with things tomorrow. Thanks to everybody who has offered us snacks, skills, support etc. over the course of the day and to the security who have left the toilets unlocked for us.

We extend our solidarity to all the new university occupations that have taken place today: Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford (who have already been successful in achieving all of their demands!) and Leeds. The news came to us in rumours and confirmations throughout the day, often in the middle of long meetings or intense discussions, and made us all feel jubilant!

We discussed at length the response from the vice-chancellor's office that was received this afternoon. We are glad that the university management is now engaging with the occupation and have acknowledged the urgency of its cause but find the response to our demands vague and unsatisfactory. We have requested further specificity and depth.

We also received today several visitors to the occupation who came and spoke to us and offered their support, including Paul Cecil (UCU branch executive), a representative of Socialist Students, and some international comrades from Turkey. This evening we also had a live skype link-up with Serena, a comrade in Palestine and a student at Al-Quds university with which Sussex is twinned. She will be visiting Sussex next March as part of the Brighton-Tubas solidarity network and told us about some of the day to day realities of the events of recent weeks and the demonstrations in the West Bank.

Please come down and visit us if you haven't done so already! The support so far has been tremendous, but we are still eager to engage with the wider university community as much as possible and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas - whatever they are. Tomorrow we have another exiting and varied speaker session including talks and a poetry reading from members of the university faculty. We hope to see you there.