By Isabel Ringrose
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Student occupations put Palestine on the agenda

Leeds university students and Goldsmiths university students ended their occupations
Issue 2898
Leeds university students leave their occupation for Palestine

Leeds university students leave their occupation (Picture: Leeds Palestine Solidarity Group/Rachel O’Leary)

Student occupations have made sure that the issue of Palestine was visible on several campuses—and have raised awareness of higher education’s complicity with genocide.

University of Leeds students left their occupation of the Parkinson Building last Thursday after two weeks and a meeting with management—which management said wouldn’t be possible while the occupation was ongoing. They said the ending was a “bittersweet feeling”. “It has been amazing to witness the strength and resistance of everyone who took part in and supported this historical event,” said the occupiers. The students are pushing for another meeting with management and are organising a staff and student assembly.

“We have occupied the building despite threats and intimidation from the university and have transformed the space into a democratic educational space for students and staff,” they said. “We have revived student politics on campus, with thousands having attended our activities, events and protests. Our occupation also forced university management to finally acknowledge students’ concerns and demands after five months of silence and dismissal. This is only the next step of our escalations until the university ends its complicity with the oppression of Palestinians.”

Students in Goldsmiths university in south London also walked out on Friday after 32 days in occupation. Meanwhile at UCL in central London, students were still occupying at the start of this week. “We had some intimidation from the police a few days ago because of push back from Zionists on campus,” occupier Rayan told Socialist Worker.

“They’d been postering to discourage people from coming near the occupation. But we’ve had great support from the (local branches of) the IWGB, UCU and Unison unions. And as students we hold events and teach-ins, and we have Iftar together and encourage people to come and break their fast with us.” Rayan said, “We take it in turns to do the night shifts and still have people joining us for the first time.”

And in Bristol, students are in their third week of action and are still occupying the management building. One student slammed the meeting they had with management, as the students had to spend most of the meeting explaining their demands. “It was infuriating and a waste of everybody’s time, especially with the ongoing situation in Gaza,” they said. Action on campus has been important to building the profile of the vast pro-Palestine movement in Britain. Students need to keep pushing for action on campus and more broadly.

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