Late afternoon on Tuesday we gathered as a group of students, academics, union members and activists from Birmingham and farther afield at the historic front of Senate House to engage in a dialogue about the protection of the public university.
There was an excited buzz of dynamic anticipation in the air as the four academic speakers spoke opened the floor up for discussion.
The speakers included:
Gurminder K Bhambra
Professor of Sociology and Director of the Social Theory Centre, University of Warwick. Co-Founder of the Campaign for the Public University
Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham. Co-Founder of the Campaign for the Public University
Research Fellow in the Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies, University of Warwick
Assistant Professor in Modern British History, University of Warwick
Tea and biscuits were generously provided by the chaplaincy.
The occupiers joined the discussion from the balcony, enabling them to open up the space heretofore exclusive to almost all but senior management.
Protect the Public University – Warwick are committed to opening a physical and intellectual space for debate about the role of the university and its relationship to the public good. The university management, however, have proved themselves committed to maintaining the exclusivity of the occupied space and the university as a whole.
Our commitment to opening dialogue is founded upon a deep concern for the national and institutional restructuring of the higher education system, which is taking the university further and further away from common hands and into the tight fists of private interest.
The systematic exclusion and marginalisation of under-represented voices within the university urgently reinforces the need to fight for a space in which this conversation can take place, and continue to take place.
Only from this open space can we create an institution which purposefully negates social inequalities rather than reproduces them, and enables dialogue rather than shutting it down.