Sunday, 15 February 2009

Occupation Victories, Divine Divestment, Disciplinaries, Debates and Free Popcorn!


Amazing news from the Goldsmiths Occupation, who won all of their demands in 29 hours! Congratulations to the members of the occupation, as well as the university management for their swift and total cooperation in developing and fully funding 4 new scholarships (2 for Palestinian students, and 2 for students from other conflict areas). 20 scholarships are guaranteed, starting from 2009-10 to 2019-20, after which a review board involving the entire student body will vote on further funding for these scholarships. More details, as well as the official response and agreement from Goldsmiths university management can be found on their blog.

The university management at UEA has been less cordial in their response to the members of the occupation on that campus, which included a vague threat to forcefully remove students from the Arts building if the occupation didn't cease. However, the management has agreed to negotiate with the members of the occupation outside of the occupied building, so for now the UEA Occupation has ended. We wish them the best in their negotiations and solidarity in their efforts.

Edinburgh also ended their occupation this morning with some solid victories including five scholarships and a lecture series, and a vow that "This is only the beginning of the movement to end the university’s role in the occupation and oppression of Palestine by the Israeli government and military." They say: "We feel it’s important to emphasize that the student occupation should be understood not simply as a tactic or a bargaining chip in getting our demands... At it’s best, the occupation provided a space for a process far more democratic than what conventional university structures are able to achieve. The changes we want to see will be attained through our direct action but also by creating such spaces, and expanding them indefinitely."

We hope that these victories will be motivation for more students to occupy!

Manchester university continues to occupy, using creative methods to continue to gain strength and support despite pressure from their VC. They have posted a radio interview with members of the occupation on their blog.


The past few weeks have seen lots of interesting new abuses of the English language, what with the BBC desperately cleaving to a meaningless notion of 'impartiality', 'anti-semitism' and even 'Zionist' gaining the popularity of playground insults, educational establishments with arms investments claiming to be 'apolitical', and various other complex concepts being reduced to vacant media cliches... but it seems that the British constabulary are still hung up on good old 'terrorism' as, within hours of the Viva Palestina convoy setting off from London to provide vital aid and humanitarian supplies to Gaza, it was apprehended by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit. Nine people were arrested, vehicles seized and several houses raided. According to that old bastion of British impartiality, the Telegraph, 'one van bears an image of the Palestinian flag on its side while the other has signs saying Stop Killing Children, Free Palestine, and From Blackburn (UK) to Gaza... A spokeswoman for Lancashire Police said the men were arrested "on suspicion of committing offences under the Terrorism Act 2006."' We wonder if it was the urgently needed medicines, or the warm clothing. or the art supplies for students that made them suspicious? Nice one guys; thanks for keeping us all safe there.

The disciplinary hearing for victimised Sheffield Hallam union officer, Matt Vickery has been scheduled for Thurs 19th Feb. Please continue to email Russ Swannack, the union president, to express your sentiments:,

Divestment: even the Church of England is getting in on the act, having just withdrawn shares from heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar, whose bulldozers have been used to raze the homes of thousands of Palestinians. According to an article on Indymedia, the Church had "about £2.5m invested in a company that manufactures one of Israel's weapons of mass misery and destruction." Apparently even the Church is now starting to recognise the blatant immorality of profiting from senseless death and destruction: we hope that with God's ministers guiding the way and divestment from the Israeli war machine now divinely sanctioned, other less trailbreaking British institutions will soon see the light and follow suit.


Come and indulge in some Arts A2 nostalgia with us this Tuesday:
At 6:00 there will be an exciting debate between the URNU and Students Against the Arms Trade on whether military-funded bodies should be allowed on campus.
Then at 8:00 is the Free Film Soc screening of the extraordinary animated documentary, 'Waltz with Bashir'. Film starts 7:00pm, followed by discussion, with a free popcorn policy.

On Friday several members of other occupations came down to Sussex for an informal chat about the next steps for the national movement and share experiences and ideas. Discussion was productive and we all left feeling very enthusiastic. Feedback will follow to the national list shortly.

The next weekly organisational meeting will take place on Wednesday 18th Feb at 4:00pm. Meet in Falmer Common Room.