Today, over a hundred students occupied the management office of Senate House at the University of London. It was one of the biggest and most widely supported protests that the student movement in London has seen in years.
The protests demands centred around the campaign for sick pay, holiday pay and pensions for outsourced workers – 3Cosas – and the threats to close down ULU, the university’s student union. It was also inspired by a wave of occupations and strikes for fair pay in HE, and raised a number of issues around the price of accommodation and the privatisation of student debt. For the full occupation statement, click here.
This evening, the University of London colluded once again with police to evict occupiers, in a violent attempt to harass and silence dissent on campus. Their actions are a disgrace, and show their disregard for both the welfare of their students and their own university community.
Hundreds of police descended on the occupation at around 8.30pm and broke into the occupation. We are still investigating what happened inside, but initial reports indicate that protesters were assaulted by both police and security: thrown to the ground, kicked and punched, and dragged to the ground by their hair. When supporters gathered outside to show support for the occupation, they were beaten back and assaulted. A number of arrests were made, and protesters are demonstrating tonight outside Holborn police station.
Occupations are a legitimate form of dissent. When our university exploits our staff, shuts down our student union, and are utterly unaccountable to the students and staff that give it life and make it function, students have no choice but to gain leverage in whatever way they can.
Tonight’s events constitute a significant escalation of the dispute on campuses. At Sussex University, five students have been suspended by their university management for taking part in similar action. We send them our solidarity: sign the petition to defend them by clicking here.
The terms of our dispute are clear. On one side is a university management that is attacking its staff, shutting down student representation, and that systematically colludes with police in order to keep control of its affairs. On the other is an increasingly united campaign of the academic community – in all its forms – committed to reclaiming our university. We are clear which side of the line we fall on.
Anyone who thinks that what happened tonight was reasonable is not fit to run a university.
For contact from ULU call 07964791663
Send solidarity to: email@example.com; @SHoccupation