LIVE BLOG of the November 23rd Day of Action

01:43: It’s no longer November 23rd and it’s time to draw this blog entry to a close. We’ll be drawing together everything tomorrow (technically today) morning for a summary.  But for now it’s fair to say that it’s been a pretty successful day!

Good night, all.

A massive thanks is due to everyone who has made this day of action possible – and huge solidarity to everyone who is in occupation tonight.

On twitter, use #n23 for hashtag streams and follow @EddBauer for good updates on the seige at Birmingham overnight.

Any further updates should be sent to [email protected], or if urgent to 07964791663

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01:37: News from Birmingham is that security have now backed off after being outnumbered by a large crowd of students. Students have build up a barricade over the broken window and are guarding the entrances.

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24/11, 01:29: More reports of disgraceful behaviour from management at the University of Birmingham. Security are trying to get into the occupation. A birmingham occupier reports:

“They have broken a window and are trying to push their way in. We currently have a standoff”

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22:16:
There will now be another pause in the blogging. Urgent updates to 07964791663 and emails to [email protected] The hashtag is #n23
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21:54:
 The Bloomsbury Social Centre have released a full statement about their occupation. An excerpt:

“In Bloomsbury the recession has been used as an excuse to stagnate wages, casualise employment, and to impose redundancies. It has been used further to separate workers, residents and students. Things have to change. Empty buildings wait across our city. We take heart from the action of Occupy movements around the world, the resistance to austerity measures in Greece, and the militant workers’ movement which is pushing forward the revolutions in Egypt and beyond.”

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21:18:
Another one! Goldsmiths students have gone into occupation. They have occupied the…

“Whitehead Building [where financial offices in Goldsmiths campus are] is occupied in build-up to general strike”

Click here to follow their twitter stream.

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21:14: “Good thing I brought my sleeping bag, eh?” 

EDINBURGH are now in occupation: click here to follow their twitter stream.

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21:04: YORK UNIVERSITY have occupied with tents. Click here for the facebook event.

“The broad aims of the day of action are to promote not for profit education, to encourage universities not to make cuts or convert universities into profit making companies, and to support the public sector strikes on Nov 30th.”

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17:52: There will now be a pause for an hour or two in blogging on this page. More occupations and actions are expected later today and in the coming days.
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17:50: After a few hours of to-ing and fro-ing, police have departed from the Gordon Square occupation in London, and the Bloomsbury Social Centre is up and running. In the words of one occupier: “We have a lovely big open space, which will be great for organising, and we want to share it with the world.” The centre is at 53 Gordon Square, London WC1H 0PD, and supporters are invited to join. Parallels with the Free Hetherington, a massive social space set up in Glasgow, and the longest student occupation in British history, abound.
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17
:33:
Despite being surrounded by police and security, Birmingham Occupation have still managed to release a statement of international solidarity (at 16.34) with the international student movement, including this extract:

“We are inspired by the students and workers who have lead the struggle against tyranny in the Arab world; who are giving their blood to overthrow the military dictatorship in Egypt right now. The struggles of Greek workers and Chilean students are examples we should seek to emulate.”

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17:21:More reports from across the country show a lot of actions on campuses. Here is a cross-section:

  • Students in Manchester have held a rally and large meeting to discuss the N30 strikes and direct action
  • In the University of East Anglia, students have held a protest to save their Music Department, which is under threat, with the campaign’s faecbook account saying “it was inspiring to see so many people passionate about defending the School of Music and Higher Education in general.”
  • Liverpool have done a day of building and leafleting for the N30 strikes, and tonight have a co-ordinating meeting
  • UCL – who last year had the biggest campus occupation – are having a meeting this evening to decide what to do next with their campaign
  • Lincoln had a day of leafleting and various hijinx on campus.
  • The School of Oriental and African Studies in London held a rally

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17:01:Updates from Birmingham University:

  • University management are deploying a tactic of harassment and blockading against the occupation
  • Security have spent portions of the day blocking the occupation from the outside world, not allowing food or water into the occupied space
  • Police have been at the scene, despite the fact that occupations are not a criminal act – though they have refused to evict students when asked to do so.
  • This comes in the aftermath of one of the most farcical victimisations that a student unionist has faced in recent years, when Edd Bauer was held in prison without trial – and subsequently suspended – for nothing more than a banner drop.
  • For eye-witness accounts call 07988056867, 07538673132 and 0798805686

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15:41: We’re getting picked up pretty well by the media:

  • The Guardian is running a story about the day in general.
  • The BBC have picked us up
  • As have the New Statesman, Times Higher and various independent sources.
  • There will be a lot more coverage in the days to come. If you have a press inquiry, please get  in touch via [email protected] and 07964791663
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15:00: A quick roundup. So, thus far we have seen:
  • Campus occupations popping up, from Birmingham last night to Warwick’s tents about an hour ago.
  • David Willetts’s talk at Cambridge University was shut down and the building is now being occupied
  • Students in London have occupied a space on Gordon Square and declared it the Bloomsbury Social Centre
  • We’ve seen a major Scotland-wide demo against Rest of UK Fees and College cuts.
  • Sparks involved in the electrician pay dispute – who have coincidentally organised a day of action at the same time as students for the second time this year – have occupied an employer’s office 
  • The Occupy movement has been a prominent supporter of many student occupations
  • Students have taken part in rallies, stunts and direct actions all over the country, from the School of Oriental and African Studies and Royal Holloway in London to Leeds University and beyond.
  • We’re likely to see a lot more activity this evening, with planning meetings on scores of campuses – and probably a few more occupations over the next few days.
  • The Vice Chancellor’s Pledge – a set of demands for university heads designed to derail the government’s white paper – has begun to be used.

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14:26:More context on the Warwick occupation from a student there:

“At Warwick today we’ve started an occupy protest; we’ve set up around 15 tents on the university grounds outside the art centre which is a very visible area where students and people from the local community come to work.The main reason for the protest is our opposition to the university’s stance on HE funding. There is no financial reason for them to support the HE White Paper – which will effectively mean the end of public education as we know it and an end to education as an egalitarian public service. We condemn the university’s support for the white paper and support the alternative white paper which a group of campaigning academics has released, which provides a much better blueprint for the future of education.”

14:19:  An update from student Kieren Miles on what is happening at Royal Holloway:

“Royal Holloway activists have been interrupting UCAS day tours being led by members of College Council, who are planning to make huge department cuts, job losses and has made privatisation agreements with 3 companies including the textbook publishers Pearsons, to make arguments against cuts, fees and privatisation. Students, and workers in the GMB and UCU are also leafletting and talking to people about future events – a discussion on the white paper tomorrow, and a rally and picket line for striking workers on the 30th.”
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14:17: Cheers go up in Edinburgh and across the country as news of James Murdoch’s resignation comes through.

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14:07: There seems to be a mounting level of controversy at the Scottish demo. Some activists are claiming that there has been an attempt to “hijack” elements of the protest by contenders for the Scottish Labour Party leadership. The march has been well attended, though, and spirits are reportedly high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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13:53:WARWICK have set up tents. Sean Ruston, the Education Officer at the students’ union, reports:

“About 50 students from Warwick Against the Cuts have set up a tent occupation right in the middle of Warwick Campus. More info soon.”
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13:17: Occupy LSX is giving support to the Bloomsbury social centre, just set up on Gordon Square. Solidarity links between the occupy movement and the student movement have always been strong and it looks like that’s continuing, with links between student groups and local occupy groups going across the country today. A map to the centre is here: http://bit.ly/BloomSC

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12:55: The crowds are gathering for the Scotland-wide demo against Rest of UK fees and college cuts: http://twitpic.com/7ibxvl. The demo is about to set off from the Scottish Parliament.

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12:50: A group of about 60 students at Royal Holloway are marching around campus and have just taken a room for a teach in. They have also just issued the Vice-Chancellor’s Pledge to their Principle. The pledge, launched by NCAFC, challenges university heads to commit to:

1. To publicly condemn the White Paper and call for it to be withdrawn

2. To guarantee no course closures

3. To guarantee no job cuts and no adverse changes to staff terms and conditions

4. To provide bursaries for all students who need them – not fee waivers

5. To guarantee no cuts to library, student support or learning resources

6. To guarantee no cuts to access schemes or foundation courses

7. To guarantee that the university will remain public, and a not-for-profit body.

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12:25: A fair few actions and meetings are about to kick off around the country: in Leeds and Royal Holloway, students are preparing for demonstrations starting at 12:30; meanwhile students in Nottingham and beyond are having meetings and actions over lunchtime. The Scotland wide demo in Edinburgh is also about to assemble! No doubt there are more that we’re yet to have on the radar – so watch this space, and send reports to [email protected]
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11: 48: Activists in London have occupied a space to make the Bloomsbury Social Centre at 53 Gordon Sq, London WC1H 0PD. They are calling on supporters in the area to go down as soon as possible to help out.
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11: 40:  UPDATE AND NEED FOR SOLIDARITY from Birmingham University, where management have blockaded the occupation and are refusing to let food and water in. Call 0121 414 3344 to complain!

 

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11:10: While there’s a lull, it’s worth mentioning a bizarre incident that took place yesterday at Newcastle College. Students were due to hold a meeting to organise for a student strike alongside the public sector strike on November 30th were banned from campus.

 Effectively the management at the college has effectively banned trade union activity and student activity at the college. The chief exec of the college Jackie Fisher (on £300,000 a year) sees the college as a private business to make money rather than promote learning, let alone thinking.

We’re getting in touch with the organisers of the meeting at the moment, and will post more details when we can.

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10:58:Keep your reports coming in to [email protected] Lots of actions and events still planned for today all across the country.

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0953: Cambridge occupation have released this statement to academics about their occupation of Lady Mitchell Hall.

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09:44:More context on the Scottish demo happening today. Hanna Moy, a student on her way down to the Edinburgh demo from Aberdeen, has given us this quote:

“We already know that fees will be a disaster, but what’s happening here is yet another example of the SNP gladly passing on Tory cuts. The  cuts they’re making to colleges also show their much of their sweet rhetoric around education to be hollow.”
The cuts now being imposed on the Scottish college system are some of the worst ever faced.

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09:26: Updates from the Birmingham University occupation. It sounds like a pretty rough night for the occupiers, with management calling in police and asking them to remove the protesters. That would have been pretty unprecedented if it had happened, and unsurprisingly the police declined. All going well now, though, and activists have organised a rally by the central clocktower of the university at 1pm this afternoon. For more updates from the occupation, click here.

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09:03: News coming in that the Sparks- rank and file electricians fighting against a massive overnight pay cut – have occupied an employer’s office in London. Click here for the relevant Twitter account. An initial statement says:

“150 rank and file Electricians are currently occupying Grattes Brothers Head Office. Someone has put a chain on the doors. Looks like we might be here a while.

More to follow”

The relevance of this to the student day of action is that – firstly – the NCAFC and other student networks are offering solidarity to everyone fighting for their futures against the cuts, and – secondly – that the Sparks and the students have a track record of supporting each other and doing stuff on the same day. On the November 9th national demo, Sparks were also mobilising for their own nationwide day of action.
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08:48: It’s worth remembering that the fight against rest of UK fees in Scotland isn’t new. Earlier this term, students in Scotland launched a series of 36-hour actions – mirroring the cost of a degree – which saw campuses from Edinburgh to Strathclyde to the Royal Conservatoire occupied.
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08:34: Students from Aberdeen are now filling up their bus and heading to the Scotland-wide demo against Rest of UK Fees,which will affect English and EU students studying in Scotland and will make a four-year Scottish degree the most expensive in the country: £36,000 on fees alone.
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01:28am: This blog will be back at breakfast! Already two occupations, and the day has barely begun. Good night all, and big #solidarity with Birmingham and Cambridge. More anti-fees, anti-cuts actions tomorrow – occupations, flashmobs, events and demos – including a big march against rising fees north of the border. 
Any overnight reports should be sent to 07964791663
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23/11, 01:00am: BIRMINGHAM UNIVERSITY have occupied. Students have taken over the north gate of Birmingham University. In a statement, the occupiers have said:
“Our aim is to advance a set of demands centred on justice in education and educational institutions. We want people to be treated as human beings and the university to be run for public good, not as a business.
We have taken this space as a ‘free space’ on campus, from which we seek to educate ourselves, and all who come into the occupation, to build a stronger movement.”
To read the full statement from the occupiers click here. For further inquiries about Birmingham call 07538673132 and 0798805686

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20:33:send your reports, quotes, pictures and videos into [email protected] and we’ll stick them up here. The hashtag is #n23 . Our operation isn’t professional, so this blog will go down while we’re away/asleep.  That means if you’re a journalist and you think something is happening but it’s not on here, it’s probably just that we don’t have it up yet!

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20:20: Rhumours abound about a potential occupation coming out of the Cambridge action. We’ll keep you updated as facts come in. The group’s wordpress page is here.

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22/11 at 19:58: Aaaaand we’re off. And it’s Cambridge that has given us our first reportable incident. Students have stormed a talk at Lady Mitchell Hall and shut down a speech by universities minister David Willetts. One Cambridge student has said:

 “Those who think that letting the talk go ahead would have influenced the debate on higher education are misguided.  We have marched for a year, been kettled repeatedly and threatened with rubber bullets. Willetts has made up his mind; he is not for turning. That is why we shut him down.

 

“No question, however carefully worded and rationally compelling, would have had the same impact as our action.  We apologise to those who were denied this opportunity but Willetts has spoken before and he will speak again.  Ahead of the strikes on November 30th, the present moment calls for more innovative and immediate tactics.”

 

 

It’s Tuesday 22nd November, and we’re about to kick off the live blog for the day of action. Before we start, some context:
  • The November 23rd day of action was called by the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts following the successful national demonstration on November 9th, and ahead of the biggest strike action since 1926 on November 30th.
  • The day of action will not be centralised, either geographically or temporally: we’re expecting occupations, actions and events across the country and throughout the coming few days.
  • The aims of the day of action are: (a) to give a localised point of reference for students to fight the government’s higher education White Paper and other reforms – which basically attempt to end education as a public service (as Luke Durigan points out here), and (b) to build for the 30th November strike action on campuses and in education generally.

Comments

  1. Good to know there are still some people campaigning for the students of the future.

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