The Occupation is now formally over. Did they end in style or in disgrace? Only you can decide.
Cambridge students are currently occupying the Old Schools in protest against the proposed tuition fee rises and education cuts. Follow the story live here with our team of gossips, cynics and conspiracy theorists (with the occasional reporter thrown in as well).
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As we prepare for the inevitable retrospective evaluation in the days to come, Elizabeth Morgan from King’s College put in her vote: “We leave eleven days after we first occupied and do so on our own terms, of our own free will, and not owing to University or police coercion. It has been eleven intense days of political action and organisation, practical skill sharing, theoretical debate, entertainment and practical and emotional solidarity. As today’s actions show, this is only the beginning.” Don’t believe her? Look at www.defendeducation.co.uk for details.
Just to recap, the 11 day Occupation of the Old Schools Combination Room has now come to an official end.
It seems like an after-party has been planned.
It is decided that the delegates will invite the Vice Chancellor (again) to meet with students – not just of the occupation, but any students who are concerned by this issue. It is expected that the Vice Chancellor will decline.
The University council has said it will not take criminal proceedings against the occupiers.
A small group of the occupiers reassemble with the representatives to reform strategy. Most are tired and exasperated and leave.
The two groups reunite in front of King’s College. They spend around half an hour forming a proposal that has the consensus of the majority of those present: to send representatives to see the Vice Chancellor, as per his decision, but to make it clear that since the University Council has already made their decision, they don’t expect much from this.
Three representatives are selected.
A section of the group follow the VC down King’s Parade shouting slogans. They attempt to follow the VC into King’s College. The porters and policemen close the gates, dividing the group into two. The more radical members follow the VC to Old Schools but are denied access. The tamer ones focus on what the next steps are.
Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, finally emerges. The message from him is, as expected, ambiguous but he does offer to meet representatives of the students. He reiterates that this was an illegal occupation from the start (technically university members are allowed to be in the SCR between the hours of 9am and 3:30pm, but we’ll leave this for now). Some students reject this – they want the VC to meet them as a group, in line with their democratic principles.
The VC makes it clear he has said all he has to say, and makes to leave. Some students continue asking him questions, others are happy to let him leave.
Rahul Mansigani, CUSU President, emerges, and is the first to speak to the students. He makes it clear he cannot give guarantees, but gives indications that the Council did have serious debate on the issue and did take on board some of the demands made by the occupation.
“Thank you for speaking to us!” Shouts one student – it is unclear whether or not he is being sarcastic.
More members of UC exit. One refuses to speak to the students, saying that a public statement will be made in 24-48h regarding the university’s position.
The first member of University Council emerges and is identified by some of the students. They await his arrival and offer him a chance to speak to the students. He refuses.
“Please speak to us!” They shout. He refuses again and no effort is made to force him to stay – despite calls for this by one or two students.
People are emerging from Mill Lane but they are not part of University Council. Students shout “access!” and the crowd parts to allow people free access to Mill Lane. They await the resolution of Council.
Resolution further delayed – now till 1.15 as a possibility. “Are they actually seriously debating this issue?” asks one incredulous student who seems genuinely surprised.
A decision is made to nominate one student to hold a megaphone and offer exiting University Council members to use it to speak to the students. Louisa Loveluck of King’s College is chosen to do this.
Text messages from student representatives inside the University Council warn that the resolution will be delayed. Groans emerge from the students outside, but people are not giving up – they discuss what their action will be.
Three proposals for chants: “Shame on you”, “Speak to us” and “Explain yourselves”. Since it is unclear as to what the decision taken by Council is, the group decide on “Speak to us”.
About 45 students have congregated outside the Pitt building near Mill Lane to await the decision of the University council.
Catz JCR have passed a motion to support the continuing peaceful actions of the Cambridge Defend Education group. The motion passed 103 votes in favour to 49 votes opposed. The full motion is as follows:
“The aim of St Catharine’s College JCR is to promote the welfare and interests of its members. We therefore support anyone who, through peaceful protests, voices their opposition to current government proposals regarding cuts to higher education funding. We would like to join other colleges, unions and academics in supporting the occupation of the Old Schools building and the continuing peaceful and appropriate actions of the Cambridge Defend Education group.”
People disband for the sake of interviews, but are due to congregate back at Pitt building at 12.30pm as the council discussions end.
This morning’s protest followed an early start and a thorough clear out of the Old Schools building to end the occupation after 11 days. The protest drew large numbers- up to 300 people by the time it had moved from Great St. Mary’s Church to the Pitt building where the council are due to meet. Chants and music dominate, with some voicing concerns over disturbance to interviews that take place today. Eventually a silent protest descends as students gather outside for the start of the meeting. Very few policemen are about- only around ten are visible.
The group are discussing plans for the coming week. Participation in a march on Parliament this Thursday (the day of the vote) seems a popular option.
Tomorrow the University Council, Cambridge’s chief decision-making body, are meeting to discuss their official stance on tuition fee rises and public-sector cuts. As part of today’s reminder that discontent should be targeted mainly at the government, the protesters want the University to use its influence to undermine the proposals for funding reform. A protest is to be held tomorrow at 9am outside the Council chamber, while these discussions are taking place. Rosie Gaynor, an engineering student at Peterhouse, said: “We will be protesting outside the Council chamber to remind the Vice-Chancellor that though he has treated us with silence, our campaign is growing all the time.” The larger the turnout, the greater the emphasis will be, so the organisers are urging as many students as care about access to education to come and show support in this final push for representation.
The Cambridge People’s Assembly votes to hold another meeting in the New Year. They are now discussing whether to link up with Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts. It’s not easy to get a consensus in this forum.
A King’s student urges the students in the room to pressure the academics within their Colleges: “if the university administration won’t take on board what we’re saying then we need to bypass them.”
There is an 11 year old visitor from London, Elizabeth. She says there is no reason that children shouldn’t be getting involved and doing all they can. This elicits a big cheer from the room, and misty eyes all round.
The last two contributions have really shown the diversity here: first a grandparent stood up and emphasised the importance of looking beyond social media, then a 13 year old stressed the need to educate children in schools about how the proposed cuts will affect their futures.
A member of the audience emphasises the need to keep up the pressure on MP Julian Huppert. H points everyone to a page on Huppert’s website that still claims he won’t support a rise in fees. Another person suggests that every teacher present go back to their schools and support those students who are losing EMA payments after taking days off to attend anti-cuts protests. This concern was previously raised by the group of Long Road Sixth Formers who attended the occupation on Wednesday.
After a coffee break, the meeting has re-assembled and this time the focus is more constructive. The question on everyone’s lips is the same: “what can we do next?” The room isn’t so packed this time round, but attendance is still high.
The turn out is exceptional, as you can see below:
A Cambridge student has stood up and said, “This is the room that we have been occupying now for ten days. Cambridge University use it as a sometime coffee stop; we have converted it into a place where the whole community can come and speak together. And they have come out in force. David Cameron: welcome to your big society.”
An American student says: “I’m very proud of everyone here that you’re not trying to become like the American education system. To the international students I want to say, we stand to lose places. We’re vulnerable as well – we need to band together.”
Academic from Cambridge: “I have a son from another university who is involved with an occupation [...] they’ve been… less effective than what you’re doing here. I want to add a voice to the incredibly effective way that you have been operating here.”
A Cambridge student tells the room that EMA got him to where he was today. He says he is fed up of being patronised by politicians like David Cameron who have “the cheek to say we haven’t read the facts. We’ve read the facts. We’ve read them again and again.” He urges those assembled not to sit back and allow people to be priced out of education.”
CUSU President Rahul Mansigani talks about what CUSU have been doing over the past week: “we’ve been representing the occupation in court, we’ve been negotiating with the chancellor and the University Council [...] so that we do get a statement about these cuts.” He says the cuts will be “immensely damaging to everything that this university stands for, which is education for the sake of education.” He also says CUSU have met with Cambridge MP Julian Huppert but, “that didn’t work out quite so well.” Some students around him seem reluctant to clap for CUSU.
Student from Long Road Sixth Form College has a message for the Prime Minister: “This is your big society Dave and we’re bloody angry with you.”
He adds: “Previous campaigns have been top-down, hierarchical and centralized. This is different. This is creative anarchy, using new technology facilitated by social media like Twitter, Facebook. It is using new frameworks to link across different groups [...] and completely bypass traditional groups like the TUC.”
The meeting is an open forum for people in which people from different community groups can address the room. Here are a few snippits from the meeting so far:
- Martin Booth, chair of the Cambridge Health UNISON branch. He says it’s not just about student occupations.
“Yesterday over a thousand people took to the streets of Norwich, and then Ipswhich. There is a growing number of people saying that this doesn’t have to be the way. Let’s turn this into a movement that is really going to win.”
- A representative from the UNITE branch of Cambridge University. They told the crowd that, “It’s important to realise why we are in the mess we are in. This is a government of the rich, for the rich. We are all in this together. Against them.” He evokes memories of the poll tax, and recalls a time when a “mass campaign of civil disobedience ultimately brought the government to its knees.”
- The Tab‘s very own Juan Zober de Francisco: “The biggest preconception I had before coming here was that the occupation was no more than just empty slogans. If the last 10 days have taught me anything it’s that the people involved have very clear ideas about why they’re here [...] it’s been inspiring.”
The meeting starts as a member of the occupation addresses the Assembly. She tells them: ‘This was never just about students; it was never just about student fees. This is about what the government is doing [...] today we want to move beyond students and academics just talking to each other, and that’s why I am glad to welcome so many people here today.”
The room is a hive of activity as people gather for the Cambridge General Assembly. Turnout is looking strong so far with people still arriving. Amongst the speakers is Guy Aitchinson, co-editor of Open Democracy and organiser of both the ‘Yes to AV’ campaign and False Economy.org.
The discussion is still going strong. After initial reticence to use the occupation’s consensus hand signals, the academics are now happy to join in.
Academics from around Cambridge are discussing with students subsequent steps regarding lobbying the university.
The protestors have spoken out about their protest in Topshop earlier today. Rebecca Graham, one of the protestors said: “It’s clear that these cuts are ideological, and that there is an alternative: making the rich pay what they owe.
“Philip Green’s avoided tax would pay for 32,000 students to go to university at £9,000 a year.”
Another protestor, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “everyone involved seemed really pleased with how the action went”, adding, “we had lots of public support outside when we were leafleting.”
One of the Philip Green masks used by protestors today during the Topshop demonstration:
You can see a video of the demonstration here.
Michael Sayeu, an English lecturer at UCL, has arrived and begun speaking to the occupiers. He says the occupiers at UCL send their regards and invite any students going to London in the next few days to visit the UCL occupation.
The protestors have held a demonstration inside Topshop in the Grand Arcade, to protest against Topshop bigwig Sir Philip Green, after it emerged he had cost the tax payer £285 mil in legal tax avoidance. The students seem happy with how the protest went.
Saturday 1.10 pm
Students discussing the post-occupation clean-up. There is general consensus that the room will be left immaculate, if they can help it.
A group of students have been preparing an ‘occupation song’.
Saturday 10.05 am
After last night’s success, the focus today is mainly on tomorrow’s General Assembly – see the Facebook event here – and how to get as many people as possible to come to Old Schools at 1pm tomorrow
Friday 10.59 pm
The University have finally released an official statement in response to the occupation:
Statement from the University of Cambridge on the continued occupation of the Combination Room at the Old Schools, University of Cambridge.
“This afternoon senior representatives from the Police, the Fire Service and the University, in the persons of the Registrary, the University Marshall and a Proctor, entered the Combination Room at the Old Schools on King’s Parade, and told the occupiers present that they should now leave the building.
“If they did not, they explained, there was potential for criminal proceedings, serious fire-risk implications and the implementation of University disciplinary proceedings against those who remained.”
Friday 9.59 pm
The second wave of action began at 4.10pm with a flash occupation of the Guildhall of the Lib-Dem controlled town council. Speaking to one of the organisers, The Tab heard how a small group were sent to initially secure the door before about 40 students flooded rapidly into the building to “reclaim public space”.
A symbolic democratic meeting then took place where it was decided to draft a statement condemning “politicians who lie, and fail to represent the will of the people” and the University’s sustained refusal to engage in discussion over fees.
Police stationed around the Guildhall are alleged to have taken advantage of this division of the student body by radioing policemen at the site of the original occupation to encourage them to instigate an eviction of the now weakened student body remaining at the Old Schools site.
While the Guildhall was being democratised, police and University officials were able to enter the Old Schools building and, according to one inside student, reiterated that students were in breach of the law, and explained that the University did have recourse to punish them.
By 5pm these officials and policemen had taken hold of the access gates, forming a barricade that prevented students from entering or using the toilet. The students inside released an official objection to what they termed “an unsafe, disproportionate, and violent response to a peaceful and non-violent occupation”, accusing the University of trying to “starve students out and limit their access to toilets”. A crowd of students and an estimated 30 academics amassed outside the barricade in solidarity with the occupiers.
Eventually these supporters were able to break the police stronghold by linking arms to form two columns, barreling through the guarded gates to produce a corridor for free entry and exit for protesters. They now remain in the building.
One source describes the mood inside as in “extremely high spirits”, since a number of academics have addressed the occupiers to express their support, congratulations, and commitment to the future success of their cause.
The police presence has now been disbanded, in what many are describing as the occupation’s greatest and most tangible success yet.
Friday 7.45 pm
Cambridge Defend Education call for as many students as possible to stay in Old Schools this evening.
olivcol warns in her first tweet ever, “#oldschools PLEASE BEWARE they’ve left but its common tactic to try and get you when you’re weak- always keep some people awake tonight”.
After initially attempting to prevent people from entering, the police gave up when it was clear people preferred to be inside.
Police have now gone home. Academics seem to be chilling with students.
Police officers and university constables enter SCR and give an unequivocal message: it’s over. Leave now or you’re putting your futures at risk. Some students remain defiant, others walk out. Those remaining send out a mass message:
“Get down to old schools occupation now. Police just entered room telling us there is a threat of eviction tonight. As many bodies as possible now please.”
We asked one student what he thought people should do: “Make up your own mind, but I will not be there.”
The meeting has finally broken up and the occupiers are leaving the Old Schools site for a second phase of direct action of the day.
The meeting to decide what to do this afternoon, and to decide the future of the occupation, has gotten under way. Journalists have been asked to leave and The Tab has heard the meeting could take up to 2 hours. We’ll bring you more later.
There is now zero police presence on King’s Parade. It appears the increased presence was a late reaction to the blockades rather than preparation for phase two. However, there are three security guards now stationed in front of the Old Schools Offices to ensure people and come in and out.
Alan Davis, the chairman of the Cambridge branch of UNISON, has arrived to express support for the movement and make a donation to the occupiers’ fund. Davis says the protestors have the support of all the Higher Education branches of UNISON – not just Cambridge, but also the surrounding counties. He says the Government needs to invest in the future, and that the cuts will mean the country will lose out.
The protesters have officially ended the blockades, the first stage of their proposed actions today. All the protesters rallied around the Old School Offices blockade, before proceeding to march back up to the Combination Room in Senate House, chanting slogans as they did so. Protesters are now catching their breath and having some lunch.
They are planning to hold a meeting after lunch to discuss their plans for stage two of their actions, which will occur this afternoon. They have not yet decided what they will do, but they are hoping to mobilise to coincide with a BBC broadcast scheduled in Cambridge at 1.30pm.
In preparation for stage two, the police have seriously stepped up their presence. In addition to the two Police cars on King’s Parade, a riot van has also arrived. The protesters seem relatively untroubled by this, but are keen to make people aware.
Controversially, it has also been alleged that the Fire service have denied issuing a warrant for removal, as was claimed earlier by the Police Chief Inspector.
The police presence has escalated at the entrance to Old School Offices and a plain clothes Chief Inspector is addressing the blockade. He has said that the police support the peaceful protest but that they are blocking a fire exit. The Fire service therefore have the legal right to remove them, and it looks like this may happen. Protesters have asked to see the written notice which the Fire service claim to have.
The protesters have decided to stop occupying the entrance to the Caius Library despite the fact that it does provide a staircase access to the Old School Offices. The Protestors felt it was unfair to students to continue the blockade. However, few staff have taken advantage of this new access as most have already given up and gone home.
A Fireman also briefly walked past the blockade of the old school office doors, accompanied by an officer from the University Estate Management service. However, neither approached the blockade, and the protesters greeted them with a chant of “we support the firemen”.
The University have responded to this morning’s blockade. A spokesman has just sent over the following statement:
“This morning entrances and exits at the Old Schools have been blocked by the protestors. This blockade poses a genuine risk to the safety and welfare of the protestors themselves and of staff in the building. Over the last week the University has respected the occupiers’ right to demonstrate, but their present actions are dangerous and unacceptable, and the University, police and fire authorities will be taking the necessary action.”
The protestors occupying the Old Schools have dramatically escalated their protest by blockading the whole building and two of the toilets.
At 7.00 in the morning 20 students who had slept the night in the Combination Room went outside and blocked the main entrance to the University offices by linking arms.
That was followed five minutes later by a second group moving to the main Senate House Gate where they took the same stance and members of the group began handing out flyers in support of their cause.
At 7.40 two police cars arrived to find the whole building guarded by protestors, some of whom have chosen to duck-tape their mouths to symoblise the university’s lack of dialogue.
The students are not allowing anyone to enter the building with the exception of Caius students and the college’s library staff.
Rob Evans, who has been involved in the occupation, told The Tab: “We’ve got no idea how long we’re going to stay here. This action represents a stand against the University who have betrayed us”.
Ollie Gould, a second year Physicist at Sidney, said that he had kept off the booze at a party last night in order to participate in today’s action.
University workers standing outside have been overheard grumbling about the blockade. One complained that people coming to see him for a meeting would not be turned away.
The escalation from the occupiers follows the University’s decision not to negotiate with any protesters whilst the Combination room was under occupation.
And Cambridge MP Julian Huppert has this morning also condemned the protest, telling the Cambridge News: “I cannot condone any action by students which results in them taking over property or breaking the law.”
He continued: “I would appeal to these students to leave the university building and take steps to ensure that any future protests are staged in a peaceful way.”
Tab reporters and photographers have witnessed this morning’s action from the start but decided not to live-blog the event until now for fear of undermining the protestors’ aims.
The briefing has now come to a close, and the evening is winding up before the sleepover begins in 15 minutes. Today has been mixed, with the occupiers being rebuked by the Vice-Chancellor and a really positive meeting tonight. There is a great amount of optimism about the occupation moving forward.
An email from Tariq Ali has come through congratulating everyone on the occupation. The steady stream of good news throughout the evening has massively improved the mood.
News has just filtered through that London Met has gone into occupation as well now, pushing the total number of occupations to 20. Met with an even greater reaction than the food donation.
Large food donation has just arrived. Met with applause in the briefing, which is still going on.
Today’s statement from the Vice-Chancellor and the occupiers’ response now being discussed.
There are around 80 people here for the briefing, which is now in full swing. Most people are taking part in an interactive discussion in the middle of the room. After this, the open mic night is starting up again, before the sleepover at 11.
Chairs being cleared for the briefing. Room has been filling up gradually over the last hour or so.
John – whose last occupation was in 1972 – has written a song especially about the last month’s events. Food and music are lifting spirits after the bad news earlier today. Still plenty of volunteers for door duty in the bitter cold.
Open mic night has kicked off in the Occupation. So far we’ve had acoustic guitars and poetry readings. Lots of people crowded round on the floor under duvets with cups of tea. There will be 35 minutes more of performances before a briefing at 9. Food has just arrived.
Impington Village College have delivered a petition expressing support for the occupation, with over 310 signatories, including 17 staff and the Principal. They are also still awaiting the petition from the 6th form. The students said they lived a few miles out of Cambridge and so hadn’t been able to attend the walk outs, but wanted to express their support.
Brian Unwin has suggested on the Occupation Facebook event: “Maybe we should surprise people by doing something unexpected and stop the occupation. By leaving peacefully the university may actually talk to us and if they reject our demands completely we should do something more radical like going on a hunger strike.”
Priyamvada Gopal has confirmed that the petition to open dialogues between Students and the University has now received over 280 Academic signatures.
Decorations are being made and Anglo Ruskin film students are filming an interview with some of the occupiers. Some people seem unhappy with the Vice Chancellors recent statement. The fact he promises only to receive and not discuss the occupiers demands is seen as not going far enough.
The University have released a statement.
Statement from the University of Cambridge on the ongoing occupation of the Combination Room at Old Schools
2 December 2010 4.30pm
“The University’s stance is straightforward: those occupying the Combination Room (some of them University of Cambridge students, some not) are doing so illegally, in breach of a court order requiring them to vacate the premises. While that remains the case, the University does not intend to enter any dialogue with them.
The Vice-Chancellor has offered to meet a delegation of student representatives from the occupation, to receive their demands, and to put those demands to the University Council. It would be inappropriate for him to do so, however, while they continue illegally to occupy University premises.”
Occupiers have a “Solidaritree”, a Christmas Tree which will be decorated with messages of solidarity from all the attendants tonight. Things are taking shape.
The Occupiers have created a Facebook group to promote the mass sleep over and day of action tomorrow. Those planning on attending are told to bring their gowns in preparation for tomorrow and bring lots of bedding. You can check out the full event here.
The academic support for the movement is gathering momentum. Professor Schaffer has led a call for Academics to use the room over the Christmas Vac to give some continuity over the festive period. The occupiers have responded by inviting Academics who support the movement to start immediately holding meetings in the Combination Room to discuss the cuts.
CUSU attended an urgent meeting with the Vice-Chancellor today. The VC said he would “accept demands, but not comment on them”. The VC said the demands will be discussed with the University Council on Monday morning. Academics and CUSU are trying to lobby the VC to commit to talks before then. The Occupiers are also working on plans for the meeting on Monday.
Plans are being drawn up for further action. Students are playing a big day of activities tomorrow to coincide with the end of term and are hoping to get all members of Cambridge involved not just students. A “Cambride General Assembly” will be held at 1pm on Sunday in Old School in a bid to attract greater involvement.
A cheer goes up as it is announced that there is an article about the occupation in today’s Telegraph. The article is fairly outrageous, comparing students complexion to “veal” and describing the atmosphere as “more Charterhouse than Checnya”, but over all the writer seems to approve of the cause. Students react well.
Two fellows have “anonymously” donated two Panattone cakes to show their support.
The mood after the meeting is positive. As it’s the end of term and many people are going off on Varsity, the occupiers are urging as many people as possible to come and stay tonight. They are promising a whole host of academics and fun activities both tonight and tomorrow. More will be confirmed later.
The meeting has got underway and the chair and secretary of the Cambridge branch of UNITE have turned up. They’ve said they are trying to encourage dialogue between the University and students and expressed full support for the occupation. However, they’ve also urged the protesters to maintain the moral high ground when moving forward.
David Crosby of folk supergroup Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young has reportedly sent his support to the occupiers telling them to “have fun”. A cheer goes up when this is announced. Some Blues boaties also come to check out the occupation and look a bit bemused. No cheers for them.
The morning clean up has begun and the Hoover has been whipped out in preparation for the meeting.
Almost everyone is awake now but numbers have thinned out. There are no more than 40 people. Despite the low numbers the meeting has been provisionally set for 10.30 and the agenda is being drawn up now.
There was a meeting planned for 7am but it’s been delayed. Everyone is still asleep after last nights ceilidh.
The Ceilidh band have arrived and the dancing has begun. Flirtatious glances and smiles flick back and forth between the lines of dancers and there is a man in a Kilt. Looks like tonight should be fun.
Academics have issued another plea to the Vice-Chancellor in a last ditch attempt to open dialogues between the occupiers and the University. The statement reads:
“We believe the occupation of the University Combination Room offers an opportunity which should be seized upon by the university authorities to engage in an open dialogue with students and staff on the current predicament of UK higher education. We must again ask the Vice-Chancellor to respond positively to the requests already made for such dialogue and regret that no such response has so far been forthcoming.”
The statement gained just less signatories than the previous appeal, which over 200 Academics gave their support to. However, the writers were keen to stress that this drop in numbers was due to “communication gaps, time sensitivity, and incomplete email lists, not reluctance on part of other signatories to sign again.”
The Old Schools occupation has made headlines in France.
The Ceilidh band are reportedly half an hour late, as the occupation roles into its seventh day.
The occupiers have issued another statement, hinting that while the occupation may be drawing to a close, it won’t be the end of their campaign against the cuts. In the statement they said they will “continue building resistance to the devastating fees and cuts which threaten our education system and welfare”, and that there could be more “non-violent civil disobedience” to come. The full statement can be found here.
Organisers of the occupation have set up a Facebook event for an open meeting to be held tomorrow to decide what to do next. The meeting will be held at the Cambridge University Sports and Social Club on Mill Lane tomorrow between 6 and 9pm.
Cambridge Defend Education have released a statement about “Awareness, equality and gender” in the anti-cuts movement. In it they argue that some of the demonstrations across the country have used “sexist language including graphic violent sexual imagery“, and that this should be combatted. They say the protests should be about “a particular conception of social justice” not just funding cuts. You can read the full statement here.
The Tab has heard that anti-Cuts chants were started in Kings Christmas formal this evening as students expressed their support for the occupation. NUS have also just announced a national day of action planned for next Wednesday, ahead of the vote in Parliament on the cuts next Thursday.
Varsity mistakenly reported at 7.57pm that the occupation had allowed both firemen into the building. Three occupiers have contacted us to make clear that this was an erroneous report.
The Fireman announces the room meets all health and safety regulations, and so the students can’t be evicted upon those grounds.
After much discussion and a vote, students have decided to let one Fireman in to inspect the building.
The Firemen say they just saw the occupation on TV and are concerned about the safety of students. The students are considering letting in a University staff member who is trained in fire safety to talk to them.
Firemen have gathered downstairs and are asking for access to talk about fire safety. Students are nervous about letting them up, fearing it could be an attempt to evict them, but the Firemen are determined, claiming they have power of entry under Article 27. There are plans to blockade the door.
Our poll to determine the support for the occupation is closing in exactly two hours. It should give a strong indication of what students think of the protest, having now received almost 2,000 votes. The numbers as it stands are below. If you haven’t voted yet, scroll down to Tuesday 5.07pm and do so now.
SUPPORT the occuption: 49.54%
DON’T support: 45.71%
DON’T care: 4.74%
An hour has passed since the deadline of 2.30 set by the occupiers earlier. There is anger that the University have not communicated with them, aside from their short statement to The Tab.
More banners are being produced, including the one below condemning the Vice-Chancellor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz’s silence on the matter. There is a sense that something needs to happen and there could well be a division over what that something should be.
To remind you, these are the demands the occupiers are waiting for the University to respond to:
- that the University completely oppose cuts and fee increases
- that the University fight for free education
- that the University take steps to combat inequality of access
- that the University declare it will never privatise
- that the University commit to ensure the autonomy of education from corporate interests
- that the University recognise UCU (University & College Union)
- that the University ensure that no students who take part in any form of peaceful protest will face disciplinary action
Right so it looks like the University is NOT going to respond to the occupiers’ 2.30 deadline. Half an hour to go.
The University has issued a statement on the occupation.
Wednesday 1 December 2010 1pm: “On Monday afternoon, the County Court issued an injunction and possession order against the occupiers of the Combination Room, on the ground they were unlawfully trespassing. The University now awaits resolution of the matter.”
More to follow.
The occupiers have re-issued their demands, saying that “We will take any failure to respond by 2.30pm as an indication of your refusal to negotiate.”
Meeting underway. Schedule for the day is being discusses.
UCL and Cambridge are ‘lecturer swapping’; UCL’s lecturer will speak at the occupation at 4:30pm.
One student asks why the ceilidh has to start so late.
Many sixth formers slept at the occupation last night; more than before. Spirits are high, since day six began with a delivery of four boxes of samosas donated from the market. This morning, meeting are being held, and a speaker is expected to arrive soon to talk about fighting institutional sexism. Should be interesting.
It is hoped that the university will respond to our demands today, since this is what has been requested. Should they refuse to respond, discussions about what action to take next will kick off mid-afternoon.
There are also rumours of a midnight Ceileidh happening tonight…
Girton’s JCR have passed the motion to support the occupation. 49 students voted in favour, 15 voted against and 2 abstained.
Girton joins St Edmund’s, Pembroke, King’s and Caius JCRs in supporting the occupation. Peterhouse are the only college so far to have voted against supporting the occupation (with just 42% of the votes cast in favour).
Gabriel Latner has sent a message to his ‘Cambridge students AGAINST the occupation’ Facebook group saying “We’re working on a letter to the Vice Chancellor and the Proctors, supporting their refusal to give into the squatters. If you have language that you’d like to be considered for inclusion, please send it to us. Please vote in the Tab poll, it’s really close, and we’d like to send a clear message that the student body doesn’t support this occupation.”
In case you’re wondering, the NO camp is currently winning the poll by just 19 votes. Scroll down to Tuesday 5.07pm to cast your vote.
A message from an anonymous occupier, who is currently sipping coffee with both university and student guards:
“All is quiet on the Western front.”
There are about 60 people present. Some are watching the film; some are working; others are guarding the doors.
The Old Schools occupation are skyping the Leeds occupation.
A Capella group The Gents from St John’s are currently performing an encore to a rapturous crowd.
The poetry open mic session is finishing up. A showing of the film The Battle of the Algiers is expected to start soon.
Dinner consisted of vegan curry, rice dahl and pitta bread. It was tasty. A poetry reading is expected to kick off in five minutes.
The poll we posted earlier has been massively popular, and at the moment it shows a decline in support for the occupation compared to our poll on Friday. Currently 50% don’t support it, 45% do and 5% don’t care. To VOTE just scroll down to 5.07pm.
An interesting meeting took place a bit earlier to address some people’s concerns about the language in the banners which demonstrators were holding today. Some felt slogans like “David takes it up the bum” and “Sam Cam we’ll fuck David Cameron just like he fucked up our country” were innappropriate. They are now writing a statement to condemn any racist, homophobic or sexist being expressed at the occupation or on the marches.
Magpie and Stump are performing stand-up comedy to a cross-legged crowd.
A general consensus has decided that political correctness requires at least one man to join the cooking team for tonight’s meal. Originally, the team consisted of four women and no men.
We asked you on Saturday whether you supported the occupation and 50% said YES, 39% said NO and 11% said they didn’t care. Some are suggesting today that the comrades at Old Schools have gained support in the last few days. Let’s find out…
Oddly, we’ve just had a comment on our messageboard below from an IP address within the Old Schools building which criticises the occupation. It is copied below. A member of staff perhaps?
“Why don’t you occupiers all grow up? Stop pretending you are making some sort of serious point, because you will not change a thing. If you really think that the government are going to change their policy because a few neo marxist/anarchist students who, as yet have contributed nothing to this country, go and sit in the canteen of the University Admin centre? Think again. Why do you think that I as a tax payer should pay for your further education, when you will go on to earn far more than I ever can? I have children, who one day may prove cleverer than I, and earn the PRIVILIGE of entering university. It is I who should be angry about these cuts not you. Your parents and I have paid towards your education, and you have the incredible privilige of attending one of the worlds premier universities. And now you waste our money. Thanks for nothing. Finish your studies, go and do something useful, really make a difference.”
Magpie and Stump have just announced that they will perform an hour of stand-up comedy and sketches at the Old Schools from 5-6pm tonight.
Meanwhile, the meeting has ended and more academics have joined the occupation. Six police officers came to the gates and then left.
About 70 members of the occupation and numerous sixth-formers are in a meeting discussing post-occupation strategies. The sixth formers are actively participating in the discussion. There are about 50 other students here, who are mainly chilling and chatting.
Just been sent this statement from the Labour Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council Groups:
“The Cambridge City and Cambridgeshire County Council Labour Groups support University students in their peaceful occupation of the University Senior Combination Room in protest against the potential tripling of tuition fees, Higher Education cuts and the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance.
“The Labour groups will support lawful and peaceful protests opposing the disastrous educational agenda of this government, which looks likely to make Higher Education increasingly the preserve of a rich elite. We are in complete sympathy with their cause of fairer funding for higher education, and against the planned massive cuts in University teaching funding which will drive tuition fees so high.
“We also note and regret the decision of the University authorities to involve the courts rather than seek to resolve matters directly with the students. Should the students decide to continue their peaceful protest we hope that the University will allow them to do so and will not seek to escalate matters.”
Money is still being collected to pay for the window which was smashed by a snowball earlier. On the downside, no-one asked seems to know where the smashed window is, or who did it, or indeed any of the relevant information that would be required to bring anyone to justice (or indeed fix it).
One of the police inspectors outside confirms that he has 3 sergeants and 20 officers on the scene. The 200 or so sixth-former marchers have gone past and he doesn’t think much else is going to happen.
Someone has just sent us this video of the sixth formers marching towards the Old Schools.
When asked if people have had sex in the Old Schools, one anonymous occupier told The Tab: “No comment. But people have been coupling up, no doubt.”
A few pictures from the occupation today:
A message from a Cambridge spokesman:
“By the way, we have investigated the alarm going off last night which disturbed the occupiers as reported in The Tab. It was the intruder alarm on the scaffolding round the Senate House. We are not clear what set it off; possibly just the weather.”
A crowd of Long Road sixth formers spotted out the window of Homerton library, heading for Old Schools. Expect vuvuzelas.
We’re also hearing from inside that the police have dispatched SEVENTY officers to the site.
“Demo control or eviction?”, says an occupant.
A little preview of today’s demo, with thanks to @martinhakon. Make of it what you will…
Occupiers are cheered by a spread on the protest by the Guardian’s G2 (it includes a photo & mention of the Cambridge Occupation).
Morning meeting begins.
It seems as though eviction didn’t come as expected. Some students wake up with yoga, others choose coffee. Others hoover.
The alarm sounds off again. Students ignore it. This time the alarm continues for twenty minutes.
Ten minutes later, the alarm dies.
An emergency alarm sounds off, waking the students. This causes confusion and hesitation as a University Health & Safety Officer had previously told representatives of the occupation that fire alarms would not be used except for in case of a real fire.
Students wake and wait for further notice. Student guards with walkie-talkies do a search, find no fire, and relay the message back to the SCR via walkie-talkie.
Students attempt to go back to bed but the alarm continues ringing.
It looks as though the occupiers will be evicted in the morning, according to one protestor.
“Academics in support have responded and will turn up here in full academic regalia”, he says. We’ll have to wait and see the tactics they employ, but it looks like this could be coming to a conclusion…
An anonymous Pembroke-ite just sent The Tab this:
“Evening guys. Just wanted to e-mail a quick piece about the Pembroke College ‘support’ for occupation. We voted to support the motion that a Pembroke College Opening Meeting supported the rights of its members to participate in peaceful, direct protest and that was it. The entire group agreed that we should not take a position on fees without a wider college remit, so reports that we support the occupation are false. We supported the right to protest, but we held judgement on whether we supported their aims.”
A message from an occupier:
“The occupation is going well; morale is high, and there’s a real community spirit. There’s a table with lots of food being provided for the group, and it’s being refilled often. Tea and coffee are on tap. Huge pans of pasta were just brought in to feed door staff and occupiers.
People are planning on implementing increased security measures in preparation for the demonstration tomorrow, as we are expecting a strong reaction from the authorities.
We are all preparing for the demonstration at 12 noon, and we are expecting hundreds of sixth formers to join the march. We’ve been told that no one needs worry about legal action being taken against us, so there is no risk in joining us. A legal team are working on every angle of the case, and have been informing and guiding us.
To date, over 200 academics have joined our cause, and a few of them are actually here. We’ve also made the BBC News.
In classic Cantab fashion, everyone is milling about with laptops and books. Apparently Caius were asked to turn their wireless off, and they have done so without a council meeting. We’re trying to find out more.
Today, a speaker came and talked about the economics of this occupation. He made some interesting points, and spoke about how this type of action has only ever profited the rich. Neo-liberalism was a key concept.
Currently, we’re playing a game of ‘Ninja’ to pass the time. And we’re painting lots of new flags. We all want our demands to be met, but we are unsure as to whether the university will give in to us. However, we are receiving lots of support from other occupations around the country.”
Record turnout at CUSU Council.
Over two hundred academics from Cambridge have expressed support for the occupation in an online petition. Some are at the occupation.
The students issue a statement to the effect of: “it is unacceptable that the university has resorted to court proceedings rather than engaging with their own students.”
Someone has donated £50 worth of pizzas to the occupation and cheers go round.
Meeting underway. Reactions to court proceedings are top of the agenda, as well as door security and provisions for what will happen. Kings and Pembroke offer support for the occupation.
Message from CUSU after outcome of court proceedings:
“The University today applied for a possession order against the students engaging in a peaceful occupation of the University Combination Room. The CUSU President and other Executive Officers attended the hearing to represent the occupiers, raising the fact that notice of the hearing had been served less than two hours before.”
Some asked about NUS offering legal aid; NUS apparently have been uncontactable.
Yet more from my erudite man on the inside:
“A large speaker has been set up with some lovely ska blasting out. Morale high.
“Mailing list for a group of Fellows which we are sending info about the court hearing to.
“Leaflets about legal rights of occupation being passed around and read.
“Yoga class is actually at seven.
A meeting will be held once the representatives return from court to decide whether to stay or leave peacefully.
The hearing at Cambridge City Court is still ongoing. We’re hearing that the delegation is made up of a few from the occupation as well as CUSU representatives.
“Asking to delay major decisions until we gather enough legal knowledge and the time to support ourselves”, says my mole.
It also appears that the request to cut off the internet was actually made to the University Computing Service a few days ago. Dissent from the programmers?
One a lighter note, he adds: “Yoga will happen tonight at 8 and a film at nine.”
It’s getting very tense over at Old Schools. The occupiers have just been slapped with a court summons by the University, at 4pm. Discussions are ongoing as to their final decision, but it looks as though they will send representatives.
“The mood is anxious but positive”, says one protestor via email.
“We’re setting up a research group to decide how to respond”.
The judgement stops short of an eviction notice, but shows the University is gearing up for more serious action in the next day or so.
Earlier today the internet at the site was shut down, in an attempt to stifle media communication.
The occupiers have just released a statement. Here it is in full:
“We, the occupiers of Old Schools, believe that the management of Cambridge University is betraying its academics, staff, and students, present and future, by failing to oppose the cuts to education and by welcoming an increase in fees to £9000. Cuts are already damaging the quality of education in Cambridge, and increased fees will irreparably undermine equality of access. Education should be free; a social good which benefits everyone, not a commodity that is marketised, outsourced to corporations, and out of the reach of ordinary people.
“The cuts to education are part of a wider agenda of cuts to public services, welfare, and jobs. This agenda represents an ideological decision by the coalition government to make ordinary people and future generations pay for a financial crisis caused by the banks and corporations. If our current economic model cannot support and satisfy basic demands such as free education, employment for all, and a decent pension upon retirement, then we demand a system that can.
“We are not alone in opposition to the education cuts. The demonstrations thus far have shown that students are unwilling to accept the proposals for fees and cuts. There have been occupations in over 20 universities across the country. In addition, over 150 academics at Cambridge University have made the following statement of solidarity:
“As academics and teachers at Cambridge University, we wish to express our support for the peaceful direct action currently underway in the symbolic ‘occupation’ of the Old Schools. This is a crucial moment for the future of higher education and young people all over the country are rightly attempting to make their voices heard and their concerns taken into account. We call on the University to ensure that no undue force is exercised against the students involved in the occupation. We urge the University to take note of their demands and urge the Vice-Chancellor to express opposition to the current government’s destructive agenda for higher education.
“The time to resist is now – the coalition want to rush through the vote on fees before Christmas, but the student resistance is growing. We call for the widest movement possible to join students in the fight against the cuts. In particular, we call for MPs, councillors, trade unions, student unions, the TUC, and the NUS to do the following:
* Publicly support student occupations through all available media channels.
* Call immediately for a new wave of occupations as a legitimate form of protest against fees and cuts.
* Organise financial, legal, and political aid for all current and future occupations.
* Call a national day of action on the day of the parliamentary vote on tuition fees.
* Officially support any staff taking further industrial action on cuts.
* Support and join the Trade Unions Congress “March for the Alternative: Jobs, Growth,Justice” on the 26th March 2011.
“These peaceful demonstrations and occupations by students are only the beginning. Ultimately, a mass movement is needed to bring down the coalition government, which has no democratic mandate to carry out these austerity measures.”
Murray Edwards SU has voted in favour of the occupation. Peterhouse voted against (57 against, 42 for). Clare haven’t bothered with an Open Meeting but may be seeking a referendum.
187 have decided they are ‘Attending’ Gabriel Latner’s “Cambridge Students AGAINST the Occupation group“. Latner has declared: “This isn’t going to be a discussion board. All posts, no matter what the content, will be deleted.”
345 have decided they are ‘Attending’ Cambridge Defend Education’s CAMBRIDGE OCCUPATION: OLD SCHOOLS facebook event. Someone sent solidarity from Chile on their wall.
The occupation will also be discussed later this evening at CUSU, where CUSU’s position will be voted on.
Breaking news from the Mirror: “Nick Clegg’s credibility is at risk”. Protestors seem to think that this was already evident.
Apparently some students were up at 7am flyering and encouraging people to support the occupation and the causes behind it. Your trusted Tab reporter was asleep, dreaming of a skiing holiday.
King’s and Pembroke JCRs will be voting on whether or not to support the occupation at 5pm this evening.
Problem? Due to the occupation, one lovely lady may not get paid as she won’t be able to perform her duties of preparing tea and washing up. A meeting is called, and this is discussed. One student mentions “the means of production of tea”. The group decide to ask the member of staff what will happen; turns out she still gets paid regardless. Meeting adjourned.
French reggae music is playing and there is a smell of toasties and hot coffee in the air.
In case you hadn’t realised, it’s snowing. Apparently occupiers are people too, and some get very excited about the snow. The rest go back to bed.
A long Open meeting, with about 50-60 people, comes to a close after a deep discussion of economics. Proposals essentially boil down to:
- nationalise the banks to pay for education
- it’s half past midnight, we’ll come up with a national economic policy later.
After much argument, the latter wins.
The students settle for sleep, a rota for night shifts has been drawn up.
Here’s the video of Prof. Richard Drayton’s talk earlier to the occupiers.
Two members of the Pitt club enter and look slightly bemused as to what is going on.
Via email: “An amusing episode at the occupation. During a meeting someone told the room that a group of people had made off with one of the banner hanging outside. “Let’s go get ‘em” shouted one leather jacketed comrade. Someone thought the thieves were at Lloyds TSB, and another thought it was probably Gabriel Latner (whose anti-occupation Facebook group has now picked up 127 and moots the idea of “occupying the occupiers’ rooms”). We followed the all-male mob into town in the hope of the protest’s first bit of lairy-ness. Unsurprisingly the Lloyds tip-off was a bind alley and we all returned back to HQ to eat supper.”
Talk finished. Announcements follow. They do a call out for volunteers to be trained as legal observors, and ask for students to contribute video cameras and a D lock.
The provisional schedule for this evening:
- 6pm Open Meeting,
- 7pm Skype conference with Dr Priyamvada Gopal,
- 7:30pm concert from the Staircase Band.
They have brie as well.
The Tab would like to thank whichever of the protesters it was who brought Sainsbury’s Wensleydale cheese into this building. It was delicious, and went very well with the fair-trade bread.
The talk largely focuses on the effects of funding and influence on research in the wider context of the privatisation of education. Hind argues that education is a public good that is being commodified, and the credit crunch is being used as a justification for this.
Dan Hind, author of The Return of the Public and Threat to Reason, is on his way from London to speak to the students.
A new lecturer has arrived.
A small team of students from King’s are working on a motion that is intended to be brought to KCSU in the wake of CUSU’s support of the occupation. They are deep in discussion as to the exact wording of the proposal and constitutional technicalities.
Some are attempting to pacify the child with cake. While said child is now quieter, he still seems to be quite annoyed, although the reasons behind this are not entirely clear.
A non-violent direct action workshop is under way and students are being taught their civil and legal rights regarding peaceful protest. In the meantime, a little child is crying and shouting “I’m going to break EVERYTHING!” to the amusement of those present.
“Are you really advocating a Keynesian response to the crisis?” One sceptical student asks. He doesn’t believe that we have enough economic growth to support such policies. The lecturer (who speaks French and kind of looks like a nerdy yet still hot version of Mick Jagger, by the way) disagrees with the proposition, arguing that the levels of recession are not as bad as proponents of cuts would have you believe.
A lecturer from King’s College, London has amassed quite an audience in his discussion of the macroeconomics behind the credit crunch and responses to it. He explores the apparent mash-up between economics and politics, as well as these questions: Is this crunch really as bad as we are told? Were we not meant to be in one of the most prosperous ages in history? He touches upon Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees and the way in which these questions of the ‘paradox of thrift’ were addressed in the 18th century.
Someone raises the question: should we invite the Vice-Chancellor to talk to us? Students decide to discuss and vote on this at the 6pm meeting.
Geuss v one student who believes that the state shouldn’t exist? Guess who wins.
Lecture ends, Q&A follows. One student interprets this as freedom for him to give a polemic about something to do with Marx. Few listen to him, the crowd want to hear Geuss’s thoughts.
Geuss calls into question the idea that there can be as strong a consumer sovereignty in the education system as has been claimed by some. The point of education is to change people’s views, and to teach people something that they did not know. Leaving people with almost American-levels of personal debt for the crime of seeking to be taught is morally reprehensible and will not lead to a “big society” of responsible, selfless people, according to Geuss.
It is “a bit bizzarre” that we suddenly have to change a formula of sovereignty that has worked so well for so long, according to Geuss.
The “Big Society” can only work if we have institutions that work towards this – a further marketization of education will not achieve this in Geuss’s opinion.
Geuss’s advice so far can probably best be summarised as ‘cut through the bullshit and tell the truth’. Some excerpts and ideas expressed so far:
“What we are experiencing is a massive attack on the public sphere … and the collective provision for the common goods for the people.”
While Geuss agrees that the free market is a very useful construct, it is (according to him) being used in our context as an “ideological conception” that is highly motivating and has a great grip on people.
“The free market is parasitic … there is no such thing as a free market … any ‘free market’ is politically constructed.”
What “they” call a “free market” is actually not particularly efficient – even if it may appear to be so.
To anyone who reads the newspapers and still believes that the free market is self-regulating: “I don’t know where you’ve been for the last few months”.
Raymond Geuss has begun talking. He (almost jokingly) expresses his fear that his lecture may be slightly more “academic” than is appropriate for the environment, but this hasn’t put off the 70 or so people who are gathered here to listen to him.
An estimated 100 students spent most of the night at Old Schools, with around 60 actually sleeping over. The students have a meeting scheduled at 10am today. There will be talks at the Old Schools today, including one by Raymond Geuss at 11am.
In other news, disqualified Union election candidate Gabriel Latner has begun a ‘Cambridge Students AGAINST the occupation’ Facebook public event. So far two people are attending.
Dr Priyamvada Gopal has begun a petition to express support for the occupation from academics, and so far 32 have signed.
Gonville and Caius have agreed to reopen their library.
Just come back from the Old Schools. The mood among many is reflective and surprisingly harmonious.
A group at the far end of the room were having a ‘tactical’ meeting, talking through potential options in the days ahead. Nothing concrete was decided on. At one point a member of the circle asked “has anyone got any specific proposals for direct action”. No-one did. If this protest has a well-laid plan, it’s participants are doing a remarkable job of hiding it.
The consensus seems to be that the injunction which the university applied for on Friday will be delivered on Tuesday, which could herald the end of the occupation. Also on that day a group of local sixth-formers are organising a march through town which the occupiers’ are debating whether they should join, risking their hold of their prized room.
As we left a university official came to the door to thank the organisers for keeping away from the graduation ceremony. Videos and photos to follow later.
The graduation ceremony has gone ahead with what seems like minimal disruption. The occupiers’ decision to cooperate has muted the atmosphere of the whole event. More people have heads in their books than before.
After the excitement of the first night and the potential trouble-point of the ceremony now over, thoughts are turning to what is going go happen next.
Rally going on outside, some police have congregated. The students occupying the building have liaised with University Constables and Proctors regarding the MPhil Graduation, which will occur at 1:30pm today. The general consensus from the occupiers is that all attempts will be made to cause minimum disruption to the Graduation Ceremony. Proctors seem to be happy to accommodate this, and will be redirecting families to the main gate by St Mary’s instead of the side one, which the students seem to have control over.
© R. SCHEPS
English lecturer and Guardian columnist Priyamvada Gopal has so far got 32 academics to sign the below statement:
“We wish to express our support for the peaceful direct action currently underway in the symbolic ‘occupation’ of the Old Schools. This is a crucial moment for the future of higher education and young people all over the country are rightly attempting to make their voices heard and their concerns taken into account. We call on the University to ensure that no undue force is exercised against the students involved in the occupation. We urge the university to take note of their demands and urge the Vice-Chancellor to express opposition to the current government’s destructive agenda for higher education.”
© R. SCHEPS
If this is going to drag on, we might as well find out what everyone thinks about it…
Just got an email from someone sleeping in the Senate House. She says “About 100+ people still here. Plan is to stay here all weekend. There were lots of meetings earlier but now it’s just relaxed. They were playing football on the grass etc. Been a nice day”.
If the Senate House’s Senior Combination Room gets Sky Sports 1, a few more might just join them. Although they were rumoured to have had a well-known Marxist poet in the room earlier, so who needs Ricky Ponting.
Varsity have produced a video of the day at the Senate House. If you’re thinking “there were several calamitous errors in their editorial alone today, why should I waste another minute on them” then don’t be put off by the unpromising opening line. There is an interesting bit at 0.25.
Around 100 students, with more expected, broke into the Senior Common Room at 11 a.m. this morning and are refusing to leave.
Currently Caius Library is closed, with one uni official telling The Tab “you won’t be able to get in”. There are around five officials in total, posted at on Senate House Passage and at the entrance to the SCR.
Caius students were angry at the closure, which led to a short verbal stand-off late this afternoon.
The protesters, however, emphasised that the protest was peaceful and that they did not want to damage the library or to stop students from working.
Johnson continued: “we’re just trying to make a point, we are not trying to be disruptive towards students”.
Caius porters refused to comment on the library closure.
The group are planning to hold a number of lectures and events throughout the evening. It is unclear how long they will be able to stay in the Senate House as the proctors have threatened to evict them within the next few hours.
The group do have a small amount of supplies, as well as a microwave and a “lukewarm” hotplate, and are currently trying to organise more food supplies.
The protesters are peaceful, with all decisions being made by the group on a majority basis. So far, the group has decided that:
*uni officials should be kept out of the SCR
*no-one should show their uni I.D. to officials
*uni officials should not outnumber students guarding doors
*students should have full access to the protest at all times
Members of CUSU are present to ensure no disciplinary action is taken by the University against students who attend the protest. CUSU has issued an official statement about the protest calling on students to ” take part and demonstrate their frustration”.
Inside the SCR, the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. Protestors are busy making more banners and deciding what their next steps should be.
The Cambridge President of the National Union of Teachers is present and told the crowd they had “massive support”. A Cambridge representative from the UCU (Universities and Colleges Union) is also at the occupation to show “solidarity” with the protestors – and even brought a bag of mince pies along to boost morale.
Not all students are happy at the occupation. One student was seen in a heated confrontation with protestors in Senate House Passage, asking “why are you occupying the library?”
Our reporter overheard a security guard being challenged about his alleged involvement in an act of violence against one of those present.
Around 15 policemen, with 6 police cars and vans have set up camp this morning to ensure the protest is peaceful. However there is now a much reduced police presence.
At 8pm on Friday evening, the lights of Senate House were all on and a few uni officials sporting academic dress could be seen hovering in the doorway. The railings and building were draped in posters slamming cuts to education.