STATEMENT #2

As of 4pm on Saturday 22nd June the Senate House Council Chamber is no longer in occupation.

We have made our voices heard over the din of the management’s misinformation and intimidation. We are particularly disgusted by the University’s decision to close the Postgraduate Hub. This is a blatant attempt to discredit our campaign, which demonstrates a chilling disregard for staff and students.

By continuing the occupation throughout the open day weekend we have achieved as much from inside the occupation as is possible, and as such have decided to move our dialogue outside the Council Chamber.

In response to management’s marketisation of our education, marginalisation of our voices and closing down of our space we have called for free education, a university that functions as a community and that is open intellectually and physically. A university without closed spaces.

The level of support for our campaign from staff, students and trade unions on both the local and the national level has been overwhelming. It is thanks to the solidarity of these people that a dialogue has been opened, and we will now move to build on these gains.

Our original intention was to remain in the Council Chamber until immediately after the University open days. The level of support we have received has made the decision to continue with this plan a very difficult one. However, in order to leave the occupation on our own terms we have chosen to follow our original strategy.

Although we are leaving the council chamber, the university remains occupied indefinitely by students, staff and others unwilling to watch our universities be dismantled and our elected representatives do nothing.

We stand in solidarity with Free Cooper Union, Occupy Sussex, Defend Education Birmingham, Sheffield Students Union, UCLU and all those who have taken action against the wanton destruction of higher education. The fight did not begin with us and it will not end here.

Join us. We are in constant session.

Protect the Public University – Warwick

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35 Responses to STATEMENT #2

  1. Pingback: Solidarity with the #PPUWarwick Occupation — National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

  2. Melanie Henderson says:

    What a successful occupation this was everyone! Well done!!! We have made a great contribution to the university, society and politics which will be remembered by generations to come. Nigel Thrift has shows signs that he will redistribute his vast wealth and everyone will live happily ever after. 😉

  3. Jonty says:

    How amusing. You say you’re occupying the council chambers indefinitely, but really it is blindingly clear that you just wanted to kick up a fuss at the open days. Did you think it would undermine your position even more if you just turned up on Thursday afternoon and cleared off again on Saturday? This university is occupied by students, staff and others who are perfectly happy with the way things are going.

    • Dorothy says:

      You are deluded. If you had come to any one of PPU Warwick’s event you would have understood the absurdity of your final sentence. I’m not clear on who you think you’re speaking for, but that’s one presumptuous affirmation.

    • Melany says:

      Dear Jonty,

      Somebody just told me the news, and I decided to look on this website for the latest news and to read people’s comments. I discovered your name and comments everywhere on this website. I find this particularly a sad one. These people have put a lot of effort and time into something they believe in (regardless of whether you agree with them or not), they seem to have answered to all of your sometimes hurtful comments and have remained polite throughout. I find it really disrespectful, paining and discouraging that you find this amusing and worthy of your sarcasm. I have neither occupied nor do I express my own position, but I feel deeply ashamed that you and I study at the same university.

      Regards,

      Melany

      • Jonty says:

        I’m sorry you feel that way. In a way this whole debacle is just an outlet for me to express my feelings on everything that is wrong with modern society – too many people with a sense of entitlement and their ability to organise meetings, protests and all sorts but no actual practical action. Is sarcasm and derision from 1 person (myself) better or worse than the complete ignorance displayed by the other 90%? Probably not, but I honestly don’t know. I will no doubt have made enemies here this week, but then I doubt I would’ve been able to be friends with any of them anyway.

    • Tao Zhu says:

      I am sorry mister Jonty. I study engineering and I am not “happy with the way things are going.” In which department are you?

      • Jonty says:

        I am also an engineer, but I tend to spend much more of my time trying to make a positive difference by doing practical things (in the SU). It might not be feeding orphans, but I hope it has made people happy.

      • Ruth says:

        Jonty – has it not occurred to you that plenty of the protesters are also trying to make a difference elsewhere – through doing “practical things” with the SU, through volunteering, through research? I have met a lot of the protesters and they are all energetic people who dedicate a great deal of their time to trying to help others. As for “entitlement” – we’re talking about undergraduate students campaigning here campaigning largely on the behalf of staff. That’s not entitlement, it’s solidarity.

        You, on the other hand, appear to be a pretty unpleasant person.

      • Jonty says:

        Hey, there’s no need to bring my appearance into this! 😦
        I’m sure I am a very unpleasant person; the only reason anyone talks to me at all is because i’m too self-concious to be this much of a bitch in real life. It would certainly help explain why i’ve never had a boyfriend. 😛 Oh well, you walk the path you carve for yourself – It’s just that websites like this allow me to shout over the trenches at the people who walk the complete opposite path to me.

  4. Melanie Henderson says:

    I agree with Jonty – this whole thing was a farce. I am proud to come from Warwick and I think that Nigel Thrift is doing a pretty good job. I have met him and he is a really nice individual who showed a genuine interest in my work and has remembered my name and we always say hello when I’ve bumped into him in the learning grid etc. I agree he is overpaid but there are not many people who if stood in his shoes would give it up. There are plenty of people from much bigger public organisations taking equally large and greater salaries. Warwick must be a prestigious university (it is why I chose to come here over eg Oxford Brookes) and the job of vice chancellor must be prestigious and I am afraid that most prestigious and desirable jobs come with a very high salary – it is the way our society works – you must accept it or move to Cuba or somewhere similar. I hate privatisation and I can see it happening here incrementally but this protest has had no affect on it whatsoever. I am sad to say that it has given people who actually believe in their cause a bad name – just a bunch of fun seekers enjoying camping in a building where they shouldn’t. If you really want to change things try running for SU president and actually doing something about this unlike that hopeless current president. You need MUCH more student support that you what you got. I know it’s a cliche now but “two wrongs don’t make a right” and you invading and disrupting a building didn’t help anything I am sorry to say.

    • Jonty says:

      Ah, we don’t quite agree on everything then – Nick’s a good friend of mine! Admittedly he hasn’t really done that much in terms of the wider university but speaking as someone who has spent most of the last year sitting opposite his office he certainly goes to a lot of meetings. 😛 Maybe one of these PPU members will run for president with a credible campaign next year.

    • AlexM says:

      If, Melanie, you must denigrate the protest – with admirable ignorance, I might add – you could at the very least have the respect to read some of their literature. One only hopes your wise words on ‘how society works’ are in fact a joke; the Cuba punchline is inspired. The idea of ‘opening up a dialogue’ rings hollow when met with your unthinking dross.

  5. Melanie Henderson says:

    it’s no wonder they didn’t open up a dialogue with you. they would have been insulted and treated as if they were idiots by you lot. Like some 20 something year old bunch of students know better. I heard them shouting that sh*t about how the rebellion was starting. What a joke

    • AlexM says:

      My condescension (for which I apologise) is certainly not on anyone’s behalf; I’m not quite sure who you mean by ‘you lot’. Incidentally, I was not one of the ‘fun seekers’. I was simply enraged by your sweeping claims and feel you should recognise the right to protest without condemning those who want to speak out against the injustices which you yourself highlighted.

  6. Melanie Henderson says:

    There is obviously a right to protest and I absolutely recognise the injustices. However, the way the protest was conducted was just a shambles. The people with the power to fix these injustices won’t be swayed by a very small bunch of young students essentially squatting in a meeting room – who came up with that idea?? By squatting for days in there they had made themselves totally unpresentable and demanded no professional respect. If they wanted to protest – do it properly in a manner that is unquestionably law abiding and respectful. From what I have heard they disrupted the university staff who were to be sent home for days without any pay – they are hurting the very people they are trying to protect. I totally agree with what they stood for but how they went about didn’t help their cause but actually hindered it. They just shot themselves in the foot.

    • JC says:

      Melanie, our specific SU and the NUS has been committed to public education for a while now. So why have these issues in the last week become a talking point on campus and not before now? Why have the BBC, Telegraph, Guardian and Independent all had stories about the threat to public education at Warwick this week and not any other? Why have numerous academic staff and previously apathetic students decided to explicitly pledge their support for public education this week? Why this week have a number of external organisations from around the country expressed their solidarity with Warwick students resistance against the privatisation of public education?
      I think the answer lies in the fact that “law abiding and respectful” campaigns with a “professional” attitude do absolutely nothing to threaten the comfortable position of university management. Direct action is responsible for this debate that has spread from our campus to a national stage – it is why we are having this conversation right now.
      You implore us to go through the traditional channels to express our concerns. Like our SU I imagine? Did you know that the only reason we students even have an SU building on campus is because of an occupation in 1970?
      I’m afraid to say that the relationship between students and university management is not based on ‘if we are nice to them, then they’ll be nice to us’. It is a power relationship. In the context of the privatisation of higher education, our interests are largely opposed. You have to ask yourself: do you want higher fees, higher interest rates on loans, to be taught by staff with more insecure jobs, to have your curriculum influenced by private corporations, to attend a university which is less and less accessible to working class people? If the answer is no, then I think you should recognise that in the face of a radical and unprecedented attack on the principles of public education, our response too has to be radical unprecedented if we aren’t to simply chalk this one up as a loss.

  7. Melanie Henderson says:

    Absolute nonsense. Yes you got a mention in the Guardian etc but the fact remains that you achieved diddly squat. A national stage? No. A few social science professors spoke at your public demonstration reciting statistics that made the situation look bad. There could have been no more than 150 present. In 1970 the protesters consisted of a substantial portion of the university – your occupation of 20 people consisted of less than 0.01% of the university students. I’m sorry but as much as I support the cause the escapade was useless and even damaging to the cause.

    • joe sanders says:

      well said, Melanie. A few rowdy students won’t give our uni a bad name. Who were those twenty students anyways? nobody i’ve met knows them – probs weren’t even students probably just people off the street lol! Harvard is the best uni in the world and their fees are about $40000, even though ours have gone up we should be happy with what we have.

    • JC says:

      What is the basis of your argument that we achieved nothing?
      I claimed that we reached a national stage by appearing in 4 of the country’s most important news sources – you admit that we did appear in these news sources but then claim this means nothing. Why?
      I claimed that “numerous academic staff” have supported our movement. You said this was false – that only a “few social science professors” had backed us. Luckily we can empirically verify who is telling the truth in this case. We have had public support from Warwick academics in Politics, Philosophy, Sociology, Gender Studies, History, English, Comparative Literature, German and Industrial Relations. We have also had public support from academics in the New School university in New York, Duke University in North Carolina, University of San Francisco, University of Warsaw, Linnaeus University in Sweden, Goldsmiths University of London, Essex University, Roehampton University, University of Stirling, University of Sheffield, Leeds, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Kingston, Edinburgh… etc etc. Not to mention the public support from the general secretary of one of the largest trade unions in the country, Unite. As a matter of verifiable fact, you are quite clearly wrong on this point.
      Your other point that certain professors recited statistics that made the situation look bad is laughable. Did you not agree with the statistics? Do you have other statistics that counter our statistics? If not, then do you just share George W. Bush’s disdain for people who ‘rely on facts’?
      Your claim about a “substantial portion of the university” being in occupation in 1970s is also demonstrably wrong. That protest was taken part in by a small minority of the student population. But even if I accept your point and admit that far a significant proportion of students WERE involved in 1970s, compared to now, the question becomes: well where the hell were you then? You say you support our aims and oppose the privatisation of public education, yet you seem content to sit on the sidelines and hurl abuse at people actively fighting to achieve these aims. Sitting at your laptop deriding the small attendance of a protest who’s aims you support seems worse than idiotic – it is inaction in the face of a great threat to our education system. Why don’t you get involved and try to steer the movement in a direction that you think would be more fruitful?

      • Jonty says:

        “We have had public support from Warwick academics in Politics, Philosophy, Sociology, Gender Studies, History, English, Comparative Literature, German and Industrial Relations”
        …aren’t they all social sciences? Or humanities. Either way, I can never agree with your goal of simply proclaiming democracy to be a farce instead of actively trying to improve it.

  8. JC says:

    Jonty: Firstly, no. Secondly, who amongst PPU declared democracy to be a farce? The point is that we have nothing like real democracy at the University of Warwick. In fact, it doesn’t even claim to be a democratic institution. The more that students are designated ‘consumers’ the less they have any right to a say in the way the university is run – that is why I, at least, am opposing the marketisation of higher education. By resisting such barriers to democracy.

  9. Sheena says:

    I have been hugely impressed and inspired by PPU Warwick’s actions, report and statements since the beginning of the occupation. You have shown yourselves to be very smart, courageous and really well organised – and what you have done undoubtedly makes a big difference. Perhaps most importantly it engenders hope in others that, united, we can claim our power. I am reminded of days spent at Greenham Common and encouraged to get more actively involved in the fight to defend the NHS, where I work. A heartfelt thanks to all of you.

    • mattmcneany says:

      Thank you so much for your support and the best of luck to you in your own battles. As I hope we’ve articulated none of us who’ve taken action over this particular issue see it as occurring in isolation form the greater picture of what is going on both nationally and internationally.

  10. Jay Veesus says:

    @ jonty “Protests are inherently metonymic. There is never a time that all the inhabitants of a city or state come together to voice their displeasure; it is always the people in the square standing in as a symbol for everyone else. More broadly speaking, though, symbolism and politics are indivisible. Politics is always about representation, mostly because representation has at least two meanings: to depict or show, and to stand or speak for.”

  11. Clare says:

    But you haven’t explained what exactly constitutes the acts as foolish, and therefore are saying nothing. What frustrates me about these comments is that the crux of the argument against the protesters seems to be that the protest was ineffective and futile, and therefore they are worthy of ridicule for wasting everyone’s time. The notion that it was ineffective seems to stem from the lack of conclusive, measurable result. The idea that effect can be determined in this way is symptomatic of the very financial logic they are protesting against, that reduces the value of all to immediate quantifiable profit. The protesters never claimed that this one action would produce immediate large scale change – that the vice chancellor would suddenly say ‘oh yeah, you know what, they’re bloody right aren’t they! I will immediately go about doing all I can to restructure the education system’ because they are fully aware that this is not something that lies within the power of one man, but is systemic, although his power could go far symbolically in engendering a degree of momentum to bring about a revaluation of the system which effectuates such problems. It requires a change in the way of thinking, a change of quality, not quantity. To this effect, the results of the protest seem to be exactly those that speak positively for its success, because this action has given many people hope, and hope is the strongest qualitative change of feeling, and necessarily immeasurable, because it speaks of the possibility for difference.

  12. Ruth says:

    I find it telling that this blog contains hundreds (count ’em!) of positive comments from academics and a very small number of negative comments from disgruntled students, whose approach mostly seems to consist of mocking other students for (a) having a political opinion, (b) doing something about it and (c) being young (which in itself is silly, because there are plenty of mature students and postgraduates involved in PPU Warwick). Very few of these negative comments from students seem to engage with the actual issues.

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