1. Joint open statement by the LSE Students' Union, University and College Union (UCU), and Howard Davies (Director of the LSE) against the cuts, fees, and the attack on the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

2. No victimisation of Students or Lecturers involved in the occupation or any protests against the cuts.

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Read our public statement, here.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Occupation suspended- we will be back!

A Statement From the LSE Occupation

Since Thursday, December 2nd, students from the London School of Economics have been occupying the Vera Anstey Suite in the Old Building. Today we are suspending that occupation until further notice. We must stress the fact that this is not an end to our activities on this campus, only a brief pause. What must be underscored is that our demands have been addressed by the university’s administration. We did in fact receive an open statement from Howard Davies that outlined our areas of agreement. They follow as such: the implications following the withdrawal of teaching grants, the possible disintegration of avenues of accessibility for students, and the primary role of education for education’s sake, rather than a employee-producing machine.
Following the Emergency General Meeting held on Thursday, December 2nd, we received backing from the LSE Student’s Union when the student body voted in favor of the Union supporting the occupation. It must be noted that we received over 60% of the vote. Over heated debate, it was clear that the sentiment in the Old Theater was in favor of the occupation, with few dissenting voices voicing their opinions. However, their concerns do not apply to this occupation. The main arguments were that we would disrupt student learning on campus—which has been avoided—and that occupying is not a legitimate form of activism—which student’s across the country have also proven wrong in their widely-approved actions in the past month. The room choice was carefully chosen and we feel as if we have rendered all counterarguments impotent.
Our occupation was a free space with open doors, an occupation that provided alternative routes for educating students and citizens alike. We provided critical analysis of the proposed fee hikes and tuition cuts on how they would affect women, BME groups, and underprivileged citizens who deserve an education as much as anyone else. We tried to show our solidarity with those affected in our actions, and we hope we have achieved this goal.
Since 2 December, we have received intense international media coverage. Some journalists have even stayed with other occupations in order to thoroughly listen to the students. It shows that this was not just a political stunt. Rather, this occupation was highlighting an issue that deserves widespread criticism and attention. The internationality of these occupations also demonstrates that the attack on education and the undermining of publicly funded universities is a problem many other countries face. We will struggle in unity with those in conflict with such oppressive government policies.
Many MP’s, who would have otherwise voted for the tuition fee proposals, voted either against or abstained from the vote altogether. Ours’ and other’s activism in the past weeks made that happen. Yes, the coalition ultimately passed the bill, but with a much smaller majority than anyone in the government and the press expected. We made them look twice at the bill they proposed. We made them rethink everything they had but forward in front of a backdrop of lies.
We see occupations as legitimate and affective tools in garnering student activism, being able to gain attention by the student body and the public in general. We were not alone in our actions. Students and lectures at universities from all over the country took to occupying schools, libraries, classrooms, and lecture halls as a direct response to the coalition government’s deceiving, ideological attack on the education sector. If we have learned anything over the past few weeks, it is this: we have the public’s support. Messages of solidarity have been sent from Mexico, Croatia, the U.S., France, Italy, and from universities within England itself.
We at the LSE Occupation see continuing the occupation as an unsustainable practice with holidays coming up since many people are traveling overseas. However, we need to be clear: this is not over. We still view Howard Davies’s watered-down actions as a weak response to the proposals put forth by the government. His inaction, his refusal to write a joint statement with us is deplorable and we still urge him to reconsider his hard-headed stance on a ‘no collaborative’ approach.
Let it be noted that LSE students and students across the UK have awakened from their slumber. We are the new generation of activists and we will fight for the world we want to see. We will do so through non-violent means but we are ready to defend ourselves and the things we hold dear to our heart. We ask all students to join us in the struggle that will continue until every demand is met, until every MP listens to us, and until the government bows under the sheer power of public pressure.

Note of thanks:
We thank Security for their kind interactions with the occupiers.

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