Daily Archives: December 2, 2010

Newcastle University Occupation: We Have Nothing to Hide


We will not be isolated. We will not be intimidated. We have nothing to hide.

Press release: Students step up action against the cuts

On Wednesday, students at the week-long Newcastle University Occupation stepped up their action in the defence of education.

As well as staging a sit-in at the King’s Gate building on the university campus, which resulted in the finance building being temporarily closed, they submitted an application to the Department for Education to turn their occupied space into a free school.

This non-violent direct action – the latest in a series against education cuts and soaring tuition fees- was a response to the Vice Chancellor’s refusal to meet the occupiers as a group in the occupied fine art building of the university.

Fifteen students marched into the new complex, mouths covered with tape, and lay in a line across the foyer. This was where they remained for two hours despite requests from university management to leave the building, which had been shut down for the duration of the protest.

Masashi Stokoe, one of the students involved in the protest, said, “we haven’t been able to speak to the Vice Chancellor as a group democratically. He says we don’t represent student opinion but the wave of protests throughout the country recently suggest otherwise, besides which we’re supported by our democratically elected Student Union”.

The group had their mouths symbolically gagged, as one of the students, Emily Clark, explained, “to show that we feel that our voices aren’t being heard”.

Highlighting the peaceful nature of the demonstration, history student, Francesca Scott, commented, “the management were trying to suggest that we were disrupting the business of students, but it was management that shut the building down. Also, when they started talking about disciplinary procedures, I felt pretty intimidated. We have a right to peacefully protest”.

Meanwhile, the students at the occupation have submitted a request to become a free school under new government proposals.

Nick Lamb commented, “the government has said that anyone who want to set a up a school should be able to. With this occupation we are using this space to promote an alternative idea of education, so we have taken the government up on its offer and are trying to ensure that we can continue providing an alternative educational programme. We await the department for education’s response”.

Jon Clark, a music student who was involved in the sit down demonstration summed up the overall mood of the protesters; “We are showing the management that we take the defence of education seriously. The occupation is not a glorified sleep over – we are prepared to take action”.

Editor’s Note. Thanks to the invaluable Comrade E., an alumnus of Northumbria University, for bringing this to our attention.

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University for Strategic Optimism: The Autumn Term Is Open


Syllabus Autumn Term 2010

Course: Higher Education, Neo-Liberalism and the State

Course Outline

Our basic public services, we are told, are simply too expensive. They must be thrown under the wheels of the megalithic debt that bears down upon us. They must be privatised, corporatised and commodified. All this so we can ensure the continuation of a system that funnels wealth into the hands of a privileged few. This failed and flailing market system, we are told, is the only one that is possible, drastic cuts the only alternative, the fairest thing to do. Any deviation from the path laid out for us will unleash the worst imaginable, a media-imagined Worst that threatens from our darkened skies.

This course offers an emphatic No! to this description of our current situation, and sees instead a magnificent opportunity, a multiplication of possibilities, the opening of a space in which we might think about, and bring about, a fairer and wealthier society for all. In short: Many good reasons for strategic optimism!

High profile economists from all sides tell us that the cuts make no fiscal sense. This course seeks to move beyond this point, to interrogate how the cuts make sense, to whom, according to which logic. It urges a rampant questioning of the ideological basis for the relentless privitisation and privation of our lives: Are these cuts incoherent, as some have said? Or is this a specific move/set of moves on the part of neo-liberal capital? Are labour, education, healthcare, and the environment, mere commodities, to be consumed by those who will redeem them as more capital? Can the opposition to cuts begin moving towards a society ‘fit for purpose’? Is it still easier to imagine The End-of-the-World than The End-of-Capitalism?

Lecture 1: Lloyds TBS

Lecture 2: Tesco Superstore

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