Public Meeting 25/06/13

Public Meeting 25/06/13

We’ll be holding an informal meeting this THURSDAY for all staff and students. The meeting will provide an opportunity to hear more about the campaign, its future plans, and how to get involved.

There’ll also be tea and biscuits…

University of Warwick, Science Concourse, Room B2.02

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Meeting in the Council Chamber

Meeting in the Council Chamber

Before leaving on Saturday, we set up the council chamber for a meeting to be attended by staff and students. The topic of the meeting: the protection and promotion of the public university.

This is what the chamber should be used for.

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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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Response to Misinformation Given to the Press

This post is to clarify the misinformation campaign that has been conducted in the press against Protect the Public University—Warwick. Many of the statements made by university spokesmen are factually inaccurate or simply false claims. To be clear, this is misinformation given to the press, rather than the reportage itself.

1. The Guardian

‘The university says it has reminded the students that “there are innumerable opportunities to bring opinions and thoughts to democratic bodies”.’

We filed the PPU report on Wednesday 19th June, which clears up some of these issues. Specifically, students make up only 7% of the Council — the main decision making organ of the university.

Then, on Tuesday 18th June, another of our “innumerable opportunities” – the Warwick SU – declined to formally support Protect the Public University–Warwick, preferring to give only a muted reiteration of their core principles, the spirit of which are identical to our own. Our objectives are here:

If our SU is unwilling to make a stand on its own principles, it is therefore not fit to deliver on their mandated policies. This reinforces our assertion that student representation is merely tokenistic within the university. In the hope of making any changes, the sabbatical officers must keep the University on side. The problem cannot be rectified within the ‘democratic structures’ that exist, as new sabbatical officers would be under the same undemocratic pressures as the current ones. The SU lacks the will to act on their own principles. Read on here…

2. Times Higher Education

“A university spokesman confirmed the size of Professor Thrift’s pay rise, but said it was awarded in 2011 after several years of no pay rises.”

This is frustratingly misrepresentative on three counts. Firstly, while it was awarded in the December 2011 meeting of the Remuneration Committee, it was for the salaried year 2011-12. This is important because fudging the years in reports makes it hard to get the full picture. Secondly, it is a very ambitious use of ‘several’. The Vice-Chancellor received no pay increases for two years. Then, a £3,000 increase in the salaried year of 2010-11, and a £42,000 increase for 2011-12. Thirdly, the logic of ‘years of no pay rises’ rests on the fact that there were cuts to academic funding during this time. The Vice-Chancellor’s pay freeze was to show that all staff were bearing the brunt of pay freezes and cuts. These pay freezes and cuts are still in place for other members of staff.

3. The Independent:

A spokesperson for Warwick said the university’s refusal to engage with the occupiers was because they are ‘unelected’.

This feels like a cheap smear, especially as we have specifically established that the representative mechanisms for the students are compromised, and have made this clear in our statement, objectives and in our disappointingly brief conversation with the academic registrar, Mike Glover.

He added: “We don’t even know who these people are. We’ve asked them to identify themselves. We don’t even know if they are students.”

This is thoroughly false. They know who we are. When we arrived on Friday 14th June at 4.35pm, within fifteen minutes we were asked to show our student cards and all those who had entered the Council Chamber were able to show their cards.

In fact, it has been used as a particular tactic to intimidate us. Firstly, Head of Security takes a particular pleasure in trying to remember our names. Secondly, when one of us had to leave for an exam, eight security guards surrounded her, blocking the entrance and taking photographs, saying ‘we know your details, its only a matter of time, its only a matter of time.’ Well, it is not. We are here and we are in constant session.

This afternoon the university closed the Postgraduate Hub, which is attached to Senate House, as a result of the occupation.

Again, to be clear, the university management chose to close down the Postgraduate Hub of their own volition. We have not interrupted this activity. We are in a separate part of the building. We specifically chose this part of the building because it does not disrupt academic activity. To disrupt would be the opposite of our objectives. This is a deliberate tactic of management to cause antagonism among students.

We expect this post will have to be updated with further corrections to the misinformation campaign the university are conducting in the press.

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Letter of Support from Warwick Academics

We invite all academic and research staff to sign the following statement, which has been forwarded to Protect the Public University – Warwick.

“Warwick students currently occupying the Council Chamber at Senate House have done so with a clearly stated purpose:  to inaugurate dialogue concerning grave threats to the university system in the United Kingdom, and by extension, to society as a whole.  The students have been eloquent in their expression of these dangers, and rigorous in their analysis of them.  Their documents should be read with care, and we point only to the most obvious elements they stress:  the increase in student fees, the outsourcing of support services, the privatisation and marketisation of knowledge and skills, and ultimately, the construction of the university as an engine of social inequality rather than as a foundational institution of the democratic process, which relies on an informed and educated electorate.  We fully stand behind the students, and call on senior administration of the University of Warwick to engage with them in a spirit of intellectual debate, exchange, and concern.”

Signed by:

Daniel Katz

Miguel Bestegui

Keith Ansell Pearson

Neil Lazarus

Graeme Macdonald

Pablo Mukherjee

Michael Gardiner

Thomas Docherty

Emma Francis

Gill Frith

Ross Forman

Gemma Goodman

Sorcha Gunne

Joseph Jackson

Emma Mason

Jonathan Mee

Christina Lupton

Ashok Malhotra

Mike Niblett

Sarah Poynting

Yvonne Reddick

Carol Rutter

Rochelle Sibley

Jonathan Skinner

Mark Storey

George Ttoouli

Christine Achinger

Nick Lawrence

Gurnam Singh

Dr Paul Anderson

Nick Hewlett

George Meszaros

Dennis Leech

Rashmi Varma

Daniel Orrells

Christiania Whitehead

Elizabeth Barry

Will Eaves

John Fletcher

Maureen Freely

Tess Grant

Tony Howard

Charlotte Mathieson

Paul Prescott

Stephen Purcell

Stephen Shapiro

David Vann

Paul Whitehouse

Benjamin Fowler

Saul Hewish

Ian Sansom

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Outside Occupation – Alternative Open Day

Outside Occupation - Alternative Open Day

What’s one occupation when you can have two? Warwick University open day is happening. We are here.

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Letter from University Management

Letter from University Management

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