Socialist Worker

University occupations spread across Britain

Issue No. 2134a

Students across Britain have taken part in demonstrations, rallies and occupations in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) were the first to occupy on Wednesday 14 January.

The occupation followed a 200-strong student union meeting that passed a motion to condemn Israel’s actions and to protest in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

The students won all of their demands and held a series of meetings on issues related to the conflict.

On Thursday 15 January, as word of the Soas action spread, hundreds of London School of Economics (LSE) students crammed into a debate on the union sending solidarity to Palestinian students and denouncing Israeli aggression.

LSE activists started a week-long occupation of a lecture hall.

The occupation won many of its demands. For instance, the vice-chancellor will now be issuing a statement saying students in Palestine have the right to study in peace and without fear of attack.

Anti-imperialist

On Friday 16 January an anti-imperialist day of action at Essex University took a radical message to a wide audience. Rallies and protests were held around campus. Students built a “wall” through the main square to symbolise the Israel’s apartheid wall that divides Palestine.

A meeting voted to occupy, and students stayed in a lecture theatre over the weekend. They won a demand to send books and computers to Gaza and to hold a fundraising day on campus.

On Tuesday 20 January, the University of Sussex went into occupation.

They faced opposition from a group of Zionist students – something that has happened at a number of universities, despite the humanitarian nature of the occupations’ demands.

Once the occupation had started a meeting of the 86 occupying students took seven hours to agree on six common demands. The decision making process was so time consuming because students were using “consensus decision-making” rather than voting democratically.

Since then, the students have moved and organised as a unit – resisting management’s blackmailing and building support in the wider community and in the media.

When the first confrontation with the vice-chancellor came, students united against his “proposals”.

King's College in London also went into occupation on Tuesday, one demand being that the university revokes the honorary doctorate it has given to Israeli president Shimon Peres.

Peres was the prime minister when Israel shelled a United Nations distribution centre at Qana in southern Lebanon in 1996, killing more than 100 people.

Support

Around 150 students have been in occupation at Warwick University since Wednesday 21 January. Students have taken over a lecture theatre and are holding meetings, film showings and debates about Gaza.

Speakers have included a member of Jews For Justice For Palestinians and supporters from the lecturers’ University and College Union.

Warwick University has strong links with the arms trade. One of the student demands is that the university cuts all ties with BAE Systems and other companies that supply arms to Israel.

Thursday 22 January was Stop the War’s student day of action. It unleashed a wave of mass meetings, demonstrations and occupations.

At Oxford University 80 students charged into the historic Bodleian library building to demand that the university releases a statement condemning the attack on Gaza and cancels a series of lectures due to be given by Shimon Peres.

By 6.30pm the same day, Oxford students had won these demands. They also got the university management to agree to facilitate academics from Oxford visiting and teaching in Gaza.

Manchester Metropolitan University students also went into occupation on Thursday 22 January after a successful demonstration.

Students across the country are continuing to demonstrate and occupy in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Essex » www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=45143838671

Kings » kcloccupation.blogspot.com

LSE » lseoccupation.blogspot.com

Manchester Metropolitan » mmuoccupation.blogspot.com

Oxford » occupiedoxford.wordpress.com

Soas » soassolidarity4gaza.blogspot.com

Sussex » sussexoccupation.blogspot.com

Warwick » warwicksolidaritysitin.wordpress.com


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