Blog: Lady Mitchell Hall Occupation

The occupation keeps going, but lectures have started to be moved as a result. A big few days await.

4.20pm November 30th

The protesters scored a huge victory last night at CUSU Council, as a majority voted to support their actions.

In an extraordinary mood swing from this time last week, the Council resolved to support the aims of the occupation and engage with CDE’s efforts in fighting the White Paper.

A counter-charge was led by Queens’ JCR Pres and External Officer, who argued that little had changed since reps from half the colleges wanted to disaffiliate from CDE just eight days ago. However, the motion was defeated.

Liam McNulty, one of those occupying the Lady Mitchell Hall, tweeted that it was a “spectacular victory” in “defeating a reactionary conspiracy to divide students on the eve of the strike”.

Philosopher Ramond Geuss addressed the occupiers yesterday.

Those at the protest on Sidgwick yesterday were treated to a talk on free speech by philosopher Raymond Geuss. He argued that freedom of speech had to be connected to a context, thus supported CDE’s actions in stopping Willetts from talking because they refused to submit to his “political performance.”

6.30pm November 28th

As the Lady Mitchell rumbles on towards its seventh night of occupation,  the protest has started to call disruption to lectures.

Two economics lectures – one today and one tomorrow – were moved out of the Lady Mitchell hall primely because of the protest that is ongoing. The decision was made by the faculty, and sent round in an email to students.

This comes as a blow to CDE’s stance of defending education if more begin to be moved, and could damage what has been a fruitful few days for them.

A rare recital by Cambridge poet J.H.Prynne rounded off a busy weekend for CDE, and he also gave some crowd-pleasing views. He told those at Sidgwick last night: “I am in complete support of your occupation here. To me it is a defence of free speech. I support you fully.”

A poster outside LMH. Do all students support it?

With a number of academics behind the occupation, CDE are working on getting more involved, targeting those who supported the Old Schools Occupation last year. There have also been moves to distance the Willetts action completely from the occupation of the lecture theatre.

After a small victory at CUSU Council on Saturday when the motion to disaffiliate was modified, the protesters will be hoping to secure their support at the meeting tomorrow night.

Plans for Wednesday

It is not yet clear whether CDE will continue the occupy the lecture theatre after the strike day on Wednesday. Meanwhile, there has also been a lively debate on Facebook between students after a page was set up by John’s student Anna Stansbury to send an apology to Willetts. The petition disputes the actions of CDE in driving the minster off the stage, and states:

“Please do not take the actions of a handful of protesters as representative of the majority of students.”

It has prompted a cross-fire of views, with Varsity blogger Tom Belger one to take issue with the idea of an apology letter. 217 are seemingly giving their support to the apology idea by ‘attending’.

4.20pm November 27th

Cambridge Defend Education say the movement remains strong even after CUSU Council’s motion yesterday. “CUSU haven’t formally disaffiliated from us, and they are also about fighting the White Paper.”

A second extraordinary meeting, to discuss whether CUSU support the aims of the occupation, has now been scheduled for 6pm this Tuesday.

The front of the Lady Mitchell Hall

When asked if the mood had been brought down by CUSU’s comments yesterday CDE remained positive: “We have had overwhelming support in every JCR open meeting in which CDE’s aims have been discussed.” These meetings have happened at Girton, King’s and Newnham so far. Corpus will have an open meeting on Tuesday.

After Skype sessions with similar movements across the country, CDE said: “We are feeling really positive about or support from similar campaigns in Bloomsbury, Goldsmith’s and Warwick Universities.”

Occupation reading material

Over 100 people are expected to attend a poetry reading by J.H. Prynne tonight at 11pm. “He has been coming in regularly since the beginning of the occupation,” said one member. “He even brought us a cake once.”

When asked about party affiliation and representation in the CDE movement as a whole, one member said they were keen that all different political parties at Cambridge were represented.

“We tried to have a debate yesterday morning at 11am with representatives from all the main student political organisations, but it was cancelled because there wasn’t much interest.” She then added: “Postponed might be a better word.”

On 30th November, CDE will provide a base for striking academics as they prepare for picket lines at the major University sites including the New Museums Site, Downing, Sidgwick and Addenbrookes Research Facility. “We are not directly supporting the strike, but we support industrial action in general,” said Malcolm from CDE.

The occupation will be continuing definitely until the 30th, and possibly even after, CDE have said. “It really depends on the general mood. The University have not tried to throw us out. They haven’t really even spoken to us.

Reporting and photographs by Papatya Sutcliffe

10.00pm November 26th

CDE have responded to CUSU’s action today:

“We at CDE are overall very pleased with the result… The main motion was originally for CUSU to disaffiliate from CDE. This was amended to ‘disaffiliate from the Willetts action’ and passed.

“This is a good result, the best amendation we could have hoped for under the circumstances.”

“We have put forward a petition calling for another EGM, to debate our own Emergency Motion which asks CUSU to support the aims of the occupation. This is in line with CUSU’s stance and ideology and we hope the motion will pass.”

5.50pm November 26th

After a drawn-out debate, CUSU Council officially condemned Cambridge Defend Education’s actions.

The motion, which resolved “To condemn the acitons which prevented students hearing and questioning David Willetts” and “To disassociate CUSU from these actions of Cambridge Defend Education” received almost-unanimous approval, with only two votes against.

Over 100 students attended, including a substantial presence from CDE, who had made attending the meeting an official part of their day’s schedule.

The CDE representative who had previously assured CUSU that they did not plan to prevent Willetts speaking claimed that this was miscommunication between CDE and him, rather than an attempt to mislead.

Several attempts to amend or alter the motion in favour of CDE were quashed. A motion to support the occupation was deferred to another emergency meeting, which will occur within the next 72 hours.

CUSU President Gerard Tully was positive about the outcome, telling The Tab “This is student unions as they should be – condemning something we find as anathema to what we are about.

“[as a result of the meeting] I can unequivocally say that the actions disrupting David Willetts were wrong. Full Stop”

CDE declined to comment at the time.

Reporting by Kieran Corcoran

2.30pm November 26th

The University Council has released an official statement on Willetts’ speech, condemning the protesters:

“The Council values diversity of opinion and view. It believes that freedom of expression and speech is a fundamental principle of the University. The action of the protestors violated this principle.”

A post by CDE on their blog acknowledges the statement, but sidelines the criticism to focus on the occupation:

“Cambridge Defend Education notes the statement by University Council.. Though some of us may disagree with Council on the nature of free speech, we do not wish to belabour the point. We invite all those who wish to oppose the White Paper and support the 30 November strikes to join us in organising towards these ends, regardless of opinion on the Willetts interruption.”

This is part of a growing trend by CDE to dissociate the occupation from the Willetts protest, which The Tab understands has been a source of division within the group.

9.50pm November 25th

Girton College JCR, like King’s, has taken a stance on the occupation.

A statement released by JCR President Alex Wessely said “Girton voted that we condemn the interruption of David Willetts’ speech on 22nd November… However, we also voted that we support the subsequent occupation of Lady Mitchell Hall.

“This support is on the condition that lectures continue undisrupted. We defer to the debate at CUSU council for the decision on the motion.”

8.35pm November 25th

The movement is growing. Admittedly, more in enthusiasm than definite numbers, but the spirit of last year’s Old Schools occupation appears to be arriving at Sidgwick. 

As the occupation moves through a third day, more posters are adorning the Lady Mitchell and more are being made. The decision by King’s to support CDE has provided a boost, and a full schedule has been arranged for the weekend.

Professor Raymond Geuss and the poet J.H.Prynne are just two of a busy weekend of activities going on that includes talks by the academics Dr Priya Gopal and Dr Brendan Burchill.

Food supplies and poster-making. The occupation seems to be gathering pace and energy.

Andrew Diver, a PhD student at Corpus, was positive about the momentum of the occupation. He told The Tab that numbers are slowly improving, with 25 sleeping over last night after a successful open mic event.

However, there is still some concern over the CUSU Council meeting tomorrow. Liam, studying an MPhil in Modern European History, said: “It will be a real shame if the motion [that CUSU disassociates itself from CDE] goes ahead.” He added that it would feel tough to split the student body ahead of the events coming up.

Attendance in the daytime remain sparse too. Only a dozen were keeping camp this afternoon in the hall and lobby. Tomorrow could be crucial in deciding the mood of CUSU and CDE but, for now, spirits are high at Sidgwick.

The lecture room has remained pretty empty in the daytime, despite Rosa’s best efforts.

Reporting by Simon Bajkowski

2.40pm November 25th

CDE has invited all of Cambridge’s JCR presidents to a discussion hours before tomorrow’s extraordinary meeting on whether CUSU should condemn CDE’s actions against David Willetts and “disassociate CUSU from Cambridge Defend Education.”

The group of presidents, many of whom crafted the motion in opposition to CDE, have been invited to “a discussion of the White Paper and how to fight it at Cambridge, at 11am this Saturday, in occupied Lady Mitchell Hall.”

The CUSU meeting is scheduled to begin at 3pm that afternoon.

CDE posted a schedule for the day on their blog; activities include a workshop on “women and the cuts”, a UCU (University and Colleges Union) activists’ meeting, feature Vice-President Simon Renton, and a film screening in the evening.

Meanwhile, Twitter has been buzzing with messages of solidarity sent between occupation groups from other universities, including Birmignham, Goldsmiths, Warwick and Edinburgh.

One slightly out-of-the-ordinary tweet came from occupation parody account @fauxcialists:

Our readers’ poll on Cambridge Defend Education broke 1,000 votes last night, and currently stands at 158 votes for (15%) and 921 votes against (85%).

Reporting by Kieran Corcoran

8.35pm November 24th

A protest took place outside the Law Faculty this evening, where Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove gave a talk at 6pm.

Around 30 protesters marched on the Sidgwick site chanting slogans such as “Michael Gove! Get out! We know what you’re all about!” and “What do we want? Free education! When do we want it? Now!”

Protesters outside the talk

As the talk was due to begin they gathered in front of the Law Faculty where security personnel were present. Students continued to enter and exit the faculty. Michael Gove reportedly arrived and gave his talk, but did not use the main entrance so avoided protesters.

Harry Wright, an English fresher at Caius, told The Tab that the protest aimed “to send a clear message to Michael Gove that we don’t support his ideas at all – they could have a serious impact on students looking to go to university in future.”

The entrance to the Law Faculty just before the talk

Meanwhile the occupation continues at the Lady Mitchell Hall. Numbers were low in the evening because occupiers were taking part in actions elsewhere, such as the Gove protest and a talk at Sidney Sussex, but CDE sources estimate that around 120 people have been in and out of the occupation during the day.

In response to the motion proposed earlier today by CUSU to disassociate with CDE, occupier Silkie Carlo, third year PPS student at Churchill, told The Tab “we would like to have a good relationship with CUSU,” adding that CDE’s response to the motion “will be apparent at the meeting.”

The occupation’s full plans for tomorrow are yet to be finalised, but it has been confirmed that the vice-president of UCU (the University and College Union) will address the occupation.

Reporting by Kieran Corcoran

5.45pm November 24th

Around twenty students stayed at Lady Mitchell last night as the occupation continues, according to those in the camp today.

After a lecture framing what will happen on the national day of demonstration on Nov 30th and a Soviet poetry reading, the protesters settled down for another night in the lecture hall.

Attachment has been a topic in the discussion today, and more action is expected when Michael Gove speaks later tonight at the Law Faculty.

The schedule for today

Reaction continues to be mixed. There has been positive feedback, with UCU, LSE executives, and a number of academics supporting their occupation. Others have been less kind.

Richard Parkins, a Trinitygraduate who attended the talk, told The Tab: “I was in fact one of the audience members who were shouting at the CDE activists to shut up and let him speak. I can’t see how CDE claim to be defending Education if they do not appear to understand what Education is.”

In addition, one of the CDE representatives talking to The Tab today was called an “arrogant wanker” by a student leaving the lecture hall.

A welcoming message outside Lady Mitchell

Nearly 1,000 of you have voted in the poll at the bottom of the article at the time of writing, with just under 87% against CDE actions. The occupation goes on.

Reporting by Harry Shukman

8.00am November 24th

CUSU has proposed a damning emergency motion, to be decided on in a special meeting this Saturday.

Thirty-one JCR officials representing 15 colleges jointly proposed the motion, which resolves: “To condemn the actions which prevented students hearing and questioning David Willetts” and: “To disassociate CUSU from Cambridge Defend Education.

It also notes that CUSU was “misled” by CDE regarding their intentions to disrupt Willetts’ talk.

The motion is worlds away from CUSU’s response to last year’s occupation of the Old Schools, which CUSU quickly pledged its support to.

Meanwhile CDE’s Facebook page has outlined their schedule for the day ahead. It includes several meetings, one specifically on JCR motions surrounding the occupation.

The occupiers will also protest against a talk by Michael Gove, Tory MP and Secretary of State for Education scheduled for 5.30pm in the nearby Law Faculty.

Reporting by Kieran Corcoran

6.50pm November 23rd

The occupation of the Lady Mitchell Hall plans to continue for another week, although disagreement with the stance has already been clearly voiced by colleges.

Cambridge Defend Education confirmed to The Tab this afternoon that the occupiers are setting up camp until at least 30th November. On that day, there will be a nationwide public sector strike and many are marching in opposition to the controversial White Paper regarding higher education.

The timetable drawn up by the occupiers

Since the events of last night, those involved in forcing Willetts out of the building have been busy giving flyers to passers-by at Sidgwick and setting up events for protestors, much like the actions at the Old Schools Occupation last December. They have also confirmed their efforts to make sure that no lectures or security staff are obstructed, and lectures did go ahead as planned today.

One male supporter has suggested that this occupation is different from the actions of CDE last night. He said: “It’s possible to support one and not the other, and people are welcome to come and transform this space. It’s an ‘open space’.”

A ‘Solidarity Wall’ and slogans are recent additions to the Hall. Not sure what Lady Mitchell would think.

The backlash from the stopping of Willetts’s talk has already been seen. After CUSU President Gerard Tully and CULC Chairman Richard Johnson slammed the impeding of the speech, a motion has been brought before King’s Student Union to join them in taking a stand.

In an email sent to all college members today, a member of KCSU proposed a motion, to be voted on tomorrow, stating that it cannot support an organisation that prevents freedom of speech and doesn’t keep its word, and so is discouraging people from supporting CDE. It did add that it was more the methods that caused the stance, rather than the aims.

[It was previously reported that KCSU had already passed this motion. This was a misunderstanding and has been corrected].

The proposals to be put before KCSU

With the declaration of an extraordinary CUSU meeting involving college JCR presidents on the matter of the occupation, more developments are expected soon.

At the time of writing, a remarkably steady 87% (538 votes) of you have voted against the CDE actions in our poll at the bottom of the page, while only 81 votes (13%) have supported them.

Reporting and photographs by Sophie Hoare and Elise Morton

3.50pm November 23rd

Opinions remain divided on the actions of the actions of the occupiers.

In a press release this morning, Cambridge Defend Education quoted poet and Caius fellow Dr J.H. Prynne, who said the lecture series’ lineup of speakers “included no representation of the student voice, they were simply excluded.

“They stormed this citadel by taking the expression of their collective views into their own hands… much blame must be attached to the organisers of this series for effectively instigating this episode.”

Professor Helen Cooper, who was in the audience last night, meanwhile told The Tab: “Quite apart from the matter of wrecking a lecture, free speech is not best served by chanting someone else’s words.

“And it is not a good strategy to hand over the moral high ground to anyone you think is wrong. Recommended reading: George Orwell, Politics and the English Language and Animal Farm.”

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, an outspoken opponent of the fee changes, got involved over Twitter, saying: “disagreeing with someone is no excuse to stop them speaking. One value that universities should prize is freedom of expression.”

Closer to home, at the time of writing our readers’ poll has clocked up 64 votes (14%) in support of CDE and 402 votes (86%) against them.

Reporting by Kieran Corcoran

01.00am November 23rd

Cambridge Defend Education have issued a press release on the occupation. They claim that 50 students are occupying the lecture theatre, and state their intention to use the building to “run a ‘free school’ over the coming days.”

11.30pm November 22nd

As of 11.30pm people are free to enter and exit the building, though a security presence remains. Cambridge Defend Education reaffirmed their commitment to remain overnight.

The Lady Mitchell Hall hung with “Occupy” banners

—————–

Cambridge activists shut down a talk by David Willetts and occupied the building he was speaking in.

The Universities Minister was expected to give a talk on ‘The Idea of the University’, but a chorus of protesters from Cambridge Defend Education (CDE) shouted him down before he started speaking.

The minister attempted to reply early in the 15-minute-long statement, but students did not allow a response.

Members of the audience stood up from their seats and shouted “let the man speak!” and “get on with it” during Cambridge Defend Education’s 1000-word “epistle” to Willetts, which included lines such as “Your name is anathema to us” and finished with “Go home, David, and learn your gods anew.”

Protesters gathered outside before the speech. Photo: Chrystal Ding

Willetts then left the stage, and around 25 protesters occupied the space chanting: “Willetts! Willetts! Willetts! Out! Out! Out!”

Shortly after it was announced that he would no longer be able to give his talk.

Cambridge Defend Education have since announced they have “closed down and occupied” Willett’s stage and placed a call on Twitter and Facebook for people to join them. University security responded by securing the building, though The Tab understands that people are now free to come and go.

Audiences leave as students occupy the stage

Professor Simon Goldhill, who had organised the talk, blasted the protesters’ actions as “self-indulgent nonsense” and “a shame to Cambridge.

CUSU have released a statement on the incident condemning the actions of the protesters: “Freedom of expression is one of the founding principles of University education – no matter how objectionable the views being espoused are. Students believe in this principle and so does CUSU, so we cannot support any protest that violates it – which the disruption of David Willetts’ talk tonight clearly did.”

The Tab understands that Cambridge Defend Education last night addressed CUSU council emphatically saying that they were not intending to prevent Willetts from speaking.

The locked outside of the occupied lecture hall shortly after the occupation began

Richard Johnson, chair of the Cambridge University Labour Club, told The Tab: “I think that David Willetts and the coalition’s university policies are a disgrace, but democracy requires that even those with whom we disagree deeply are allowed to speak freely.”

University sources indicated that the actions of CDE have lost them the support of many senior sympathetic academics by denying Willetts the freedom of speech.

James Jackson, a second year art historian at Emma who was taking part in CDE’s actions, told The Tab: “Willetts has spoken in Parliament, interviews and press releases. He has made his mind up, regardless of academic and student consultation.

Willetts has probably said enough, and it’s our turn to speak.”

Protesters at the event suggested to The Tab that Simon Goldhill had sent emails to the mailing list of CRASSH (the group who organised the talk) asking for people to ask pre-prepared questions after the Minister’s speech and that there “was going to be no real debate.”

Lorna Finlayson, a King’s philosophy Fellow who was at the event, told The Tab: “I realise a lot of people think he should be allowed to speak. But the time for that has now come to an end. We have heard and seen quite enough.

“The argument that we have a debate has ceased to be relevant… it is irresponsible of us to allow him to have a platform.”

Around 25 occupiers were establishing conditions for University officials, pledging to stay the night. Cambridge Defend Education has called for people to join them via Facebook and Twitter.

Reporting by Kieran Corcoran

—————–

The Tab wants to know what YOU think of the occupation. VOTE in our poll below:

If you hear any news about this occupation, please contact news@cambridgetab.co.uk

This is part of a growing trend by CDE to dissociate the occupation from the Willetts protest, which The Tab understands has been a source of division within the group:

  • Leigh d'Evans

    Having attended the speech (all two words that David Willetts could say before being shouted down), the occupiers were a disgrace. Many people, old and young, went to have a debate with the Minister responsible and all they got was a one-way tirade from a bunch of fanatics. After accusing the Minister of such, I presume the irony was lost on them…

    It is worth noting that David Willetts waited throughout the shouting, throughout all the slurs against him for an opportunity to address and face the questions of those in the room who he came to speak to. Indeed, he waited until their stormed the stage before leaving. In other words, he showed more respect to the university than these protesters showed to it or him.

    • confused

      they accused the minister of being 'a bunch of fanatics'?

      • LOL

        Haha you're killing me. Stop.

  • morons…

    "We were not intending to prevent Willetts from speaking"

    "Protesters chanted 'Willetts! Willetts! Willetts! Out! Out! Out!"

    With logic like that, I'm slightly embarrassed that they're at my University…

    • Homertonians…

      Please don't let these nutters gain a victory. Go and vote for the motion the Homerton JCR is putting forward to condemn Cambridge Defend Education and vote with Tit Hall at CUSU Council: http://www.vote.cusu.cam.ac.uk

  • jesus christ

    people will just do fucking anything to be an activist these days

  • Really rather angry

    I'm quite concerned now that in the last few months we have had two Tory ministers denied their right to freedom of speech by CDE (Willetts and Pickles). I'm sure they will claim it a victory when Conservative cabinet ministers begin declining invitations to speak in Cambridge, but all they will have achieved is having destroyed the possibility for any kind of useful dialogue that could have been achieved, using the university's facilities as a platform form progressive debate. If you dissagree with someone's policy so strongly, surely you ought to be grateful that they travel all the way to your place of eduction so you can hear them present their opinion and allow you to respond in a civilised manner? Oh, sorry, I forgot: these people are anarchist scum with no respect for basic human rights and the world would probably be a better place if they choked on their hipocrisy and made some space in this university (and the human race) for some rational people.

    • Just sayin'

      hypocrisy.
      But still, completely agree. Hear hear.

    • WeTheStudents

      your change of tone towards the end of this piece invalidates your stance. you are aware of the tradition in which you stand when you claim the human race would be the better for the annihilation of holders of certain views? and you are aware that when politicians visit this university, they do not do so in a spirit of consultation, but of propaganda? occupying students reject the notion that a platform from which to launch an attack on the lives and prospects of disadvantaged youth is a platform worthy of the university's defence.

      • Everyone else

        PLEASE stop using the title "WeTheStudents" – you do not represent the view of the student body but just of a select few. NO-ONE with half a brain agrees with you.

  • Terrance

    Protest is a great way to get ones views heard. Once I tried to kiss a girl, she protested and stamped on my foot, however, it did not hurt because my shoes are made from durable leather

  • Maybe I'm ignorant

    but what's CRASSH?

    • google user

      The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.

    • fair question

      cambridge's centre for research in the arts, social sciences and humanities

      • Hugh Sillitoe

        it's the Cambridgeshire researching for arts sciences and humans (anthropology)

  • Varsity Is Better

    The mysterious James Jackson, never seen or heard before in the history of Emmanuel College, least of all by his fellow Art Historians, is surely the Tab's best exclusive in years?

    • KJC

      From this I can only infer that the guy lied when I asked his name. Which is a bit of a dick move considering I told him mine; and doesn't say much for CDE's conviction in what they're saying or desire for truthful representation.

      He looked like a squished, bespectacled Charlie Gilmour if that's any help?

      • Caitlin Doherty

        Given the press' (student and otherwise) recent habit of running offensive and inaccurate 'exposes' on activists, giving a false name to journalists is not only a recongised and sensible legal precaution for activists to take, but a reasonable personal choice too.

        • Karl Pilkington

          Bullshit!

        • this is typical…

          activist behaviour that they're showing such solidarity in a group but wont hold themselves accountable for their actions by giving their real names. As activists they are still entirely responsible for their actions, thus operating under a false guise says much about the legitimacy of the group as well their true commitment to the cause. I recognise some PPS students taking part and its embarrassing to think that after 3 years of studying politics they cant think of a more reasoned, diplomatic, educated, POLITICAL approach to the education crisis.

          • Anonymous

            I'm apathetic as the next guy. But at least this is a bit fun. I liked last years occupation. Met a lot of sociable people, attended interesting lectures, etc.. Of course everyone there said they were serious about injustice, and maybe they are- at least they have passion about something- and there is nothing wrong with being passionate. Okay a few of us missed the lecture: it is slightly annoying. But it's not a big deal. Let the occupiers do their thing. At least it's not boring. And there is nothing wrong in being anonymous, just like all of us commenters on the tab are anonymous : this is probably why Varsity doesn't get many comments, because you can't really be anonymous there.

          • okay, but

            what reasoned, diplomatic, educated, political approach to the education crisis would you suggest?

            the Willetts shoutdown was an embarrassment, yes, and hugely questionable, but the occupation, however causally connected, is another thing. a large part of what it's trying to do is to foster discussion about the white paper, and actually educate people about its contents. (if you're not sure, incidentally, have a look here: http://publicuniversity.org.uk/wp-content/uploads… — or, better, read the white paper itself.)

            surely this occupation has the potential to meet all of your criteria for a worthwhile approach. and, if your concern is that the more immature and foolish elements in CDE might compromise that potential, surely you have a responsibility, as someone who thinks that they could remedy that behaviour (or simply do better), to get along to the occupation and help to shape it into the great and beneficial thing that it could be.

  • the vid
  • http://bobo.com Bobo

    If you're rationale for acting like bellends in a debate is that he wasn't going to change his mind whatever, you should be acting like bellends at the union every week. No one ever changes their mind, get used it.

  • Marge

    I disagree.

  • Marge

    I'm just waiting for #occupygardies. yum.

    • Large

      Marge

  • Pun Man

    Willett make a difference to government policy? I think not!

  • Lorna Finlayson…

    should be thrown out of king's. what an embarrassment to a college that prides itself on freedom of speech. surprising that anyone can progress that far in academia while being capable of such a ridiculous and self-defeating logic. why should we listen to anything CDE have to say when they won't listen to opposition. they've completely undermined themselves.

    • Not really…

      Her point, I think, is more interesting than the caricature you have given. Free speech isn't an absolute right; we have long recognized that where speech causes significant kinds are harm, we should prevent, or at least not promote that speech. Take for example the hate speech legislation: speech that is likely to cause direct harm to ethnic groups has been criminalised. Similarly with threats of violence. I think you could mount a plausible argument that the harm that Willetts is causing to our education and culture means that we shouldn't be encouraging his speech, and should instead be trying to prevent him speaking. To not do so might be, as put, irresponsible. Free speech does not require that we give someone a platform, nor does it require that we sit quietly and listen to what they say.

      So please, before insulting fellows at this university, pause and consider whether and then why the logic is 'ridiculous and self-defeating.' Unlike David Willetts, Lorna Finlayson would probably be prepared to listen to a response.

      • Not really to you

        I disagree. My main problem with last night is not whether DW did or didn't speak, but that the people who *wanted* to hear him speak were shouted down. I think if there is a talk organised by the university, any talk, and the minority disrupt it so that the people who wanted to see what he had to say don't get a look-in, that's not merely preventing free speech, it's preventing a potentially fruitful debate, and preventing free listening.

        • What?

          Yeah my point was that Lorna Finlayson had more of a point than the OP was recognizing, it had nothing to do with any of the stuff you just said.

          Also, pretty sure you don't have a strong right to 'free listening'. If I want to listen to someone speak, are they obliged to come and speak for me? If I had such a right, I could use it to silence other people, on the grounds that they were preventing me from listening to someone else.

          So, learn your liberal theory.

          • You

            condescending twat.

  • Deeply Orwellian

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzsddORxcBM&fe
    In case anyone hasn't seen what actually happened, here's a link. I found this scary, not because people hate David Willetts and don't want to allow him to speak, but because this took precedence over the poor people who'd come for a genuine debate who were trying to shout the others down. Do you think they agreed with Willetts? Or do you think they wanted to hear him, talk to him and try to change his mind on something?
    Watching intelligent Cambridge students turn into a baying mob is something I hope I never see again.

  • H.A. KBE MA(Oxon.)

    9000 is too expensive. It is imperative that the government ensure both universities are adequately funded regardless of the economic climat. They should be not be forced to milk students for money.

    • hmmm

      So you admit that the government has been forced to increase fees? Good, because they're probably not doing it to be mean. Also, how do you propose they ensure adequate funding in this economic climat… maybe they should make a few hundred police officers and a couple of thousand nurses redundant. That would be ace for us students.

      • seems sensible, but

        read up on the white paper. government spending will actually be greater in the new system than it was before they dismantled the block grant and hiked up the fees. the govt's plans had been counting, completely unrealistically, upon the mean average fee set by universities being £7500. now that most places are opting, completely predictably and reasonably, for the full £9000, the state is going to have to dole out an enormous amount of money in student loans. it might work in the long term, but in the short term (i.e. in precisely the period most in need of dramatic improvements in the economic climate) it's devastating and farcical. and, of course, a significant amount of that loan money will never be returned.

        he also didn't admit that, by the way. I don't know if that's a genuine misreading on your part or just facetious snark, but "they should not be forced" clearly applied to "both universities". (if you were going to pick holes in his comment, a better place to start would be with what appears to be the implication that only Cambridge and Oxford ought to be ensured adequate funding.)

        generally, the issues with the white paper go much, much deeper than just the increase in fees. I'd urge you to read up on it if and when you can, because the legislation being passed now, even just in the arena of the universities, is going to have serious and wide-reaching implications for the social, intellectual and economic future of our country.

  • Nathan

    Hi sam what are you doing lunchwise tomorrow, aka is buttery a good shout?

  • Bell

    ends

  • Deep thinker

    If I was very clever and somebody was saying a thing that I disagreed with, what I'd probably do is yell a lot of things very loudly at them.

    • Yes!

      This.

      • No!

        That.

        • Maybe

          I don't know!

  • John

    Disgusting behaviour

    • Bible John

      Very.

  • Holiday Badger

    FFS how do these idiot art students have the time to do this? No wonder their degrees are laughed at…

    • "artsstudent"

      why this tirade against arts students? isn't this generalisability a big error for someone as "scientific" as you? :/

      • Sweaty weasel

        filthy badger

      • Holiday Badger

        I'd be interested to see if there are ANY science students there… My guess is there isn't a single one. Therefore they are all arts students, doing something idiotic. Therefore they are idiotic arts students. Simply the fact that the degrees seem to require no work is why arts degrees aren't taken seriously nowadays, not a reflection on the students themselves.

        • but…

          1) Arts students don't work less, they just have a more flexible work structure. A Philosopher can read during the occupation, but a medic cannot bring his MRI scanner with him. Good luck trying to relocate a week's maths lectures from the CMS, but an historian could cross the Sidgwick for an hour twice a week.

          2) Arts students spend more time evaluating arguments on both sides of subjective issues, therefore engage their critical faculties more frequently. Scientists tend to be concerned only with the quest for truth and explaining what they see. Obviously arts students are the ones with more developed opinions on education proposals, and more likely to be ideologically driven to protesting.

          To observe (or more appropriately, guess) that all the occupiers are arts students and extrapolate that all arts students have worthless degrees is not just childish, it is a crass violation of basic scientific methodology. You are clearly a cretin. Fuck off.

          • Engineering pg

            I'm science student (engineering is science right?), and I agree with 'but..', sort off. Well in science there isn't much critical thinking at the tripos level: we don't question the theories or the formulae, only check if they are the accepted sort and know the accepted limitations. We just learn them and apply them sometimes creatively (if we are (un)lucky) for the exams. It's only during post-graduate studies, or research projects, and that too many fail to do this, is critically analysing methodologies or theories is useful to do for the science student.

            • natsci

              engineering isn't science and your 'no critical thinking' argument (i) proves this and (ii) is completely false for the natsci tripos

              • Engineering pg

                Name one time when were you asked to critically evaluate the truthfulness of an equation in an exam? You may receive a prove this equation question, but it never asks you to question the basic assumptions underlying the derivation- besides proofs are learnt, maybe understood, but not critically analysed by yourself- you learn it from your lecture notes or text, you don't have to question it- it is received wisdom, i.e. authority! You never are asked questions such as why is the second law of thermodynamics true? Was Einstein justified in deducing the photoelectric effect? If you can show a question from the natsci tripos that asks an open ended question like this, then I will withdraw my comment.

                • Bored

                  I'm interested to see how far to the right we can make these comments go.

                  • Law Student

                    A bit further… I'm also interested in how many people will actually read this far through some students arguing about whose subject is better. But while I'm here, arts students must subsidise science students anyway – all we use are books (most of which we buy ourselves), lecturers (1 between about 200) and supervisors, which scientists use too. None of this lab stuff or expensive medical equipment…

                    • Holiday Badger

                      I'm fairly sure the government subsidise both, and see a much better return on investment by getting trained medics and scientists to boost the country's industry. If anything, we should be seeing science degree prices go down and arts degree prices go up (I realise we need trained lawyers too, you can join the useful subject crew with their deserved subsidies).

                    • Legal Eagle

                      Thanks for the vote of confidence in law – honestly, I think only the underpaid lawyers should get subsidies. The 9k cost of a law degree per year (pretty much the cheapest in cambridge) is little to someone on a 60k starting salary at a city firm.

                    • Curious

                      How far right can we go

                    • Experimentalist

                      Can we go further?

                    • and Curiouser

                      Quite.

                    • Legal Eagle

                      a very very long way

                    • squashed

                      so close to the edge!

                • NatSci

                  " Has there ever been evidence from neuroscientific research –– and could there ever conceivably be such evidence –– that should erode the belief that we possess free will?"

                  • Inwagen

                    Surely thats HPS?

          • maria

            if the first sentence of point 2 is true, then based on the rest of that point and your conclusion, you're not an arts student

          • Holiday Badger

            lol clearly another raged arts student with a slight inability to apply logic.

            Although I like your point 2. That is true. Although I think it likely that the science students will have worked out that the cuts make logical sense and are fair, whereas the arts students simply see a 'social injustice' and don't want to put it into context.

            Your end paragraph is clearly that of an arts student. Full of long words and elaborately crafted but in the end, completely missed the point.

        • arts student

          Just to give your argument a quick run down:

          You guess something and then claim it entails the fact.

          You move from people performing an idiotic action to claiming that they are idiotic. The first is a specific feature of an action the second is a disposition, does a brain surgeon who locks himself out of his house one time class as a general idiot?

          You then contradict yourself by claiming its not the students themselves but the content of their degrees which is problematic. If arts students had a tendency to be idiotic that would be a problem with the students themselves.

          It's impossible for all degrees to contain the same out of work. Lab hours and reading hours are virtually incommensurable. But a conscientious arts student can easily put in the same hours as a scientist and get a lot out of it.

          Analysing sources or evaluating arguments isn't easier or harder then doing science, they're simply different skills and more importantly you don't do science because it's hard, you do it because you love science. Consistency demands you afford everyone else the same level of respect.

          • TPJ

            I sometimes like to argue about pointless issues like the divide between arts and science subjects on the way to U21s training

          • Holiday Badger

            Oh arts student, arts student, how painfully illogical you are.

            I begin by laying down an assumption, on which to base my argument. This is how all scientific processes start out.

            I then claim that continuously choosing to perform an idiotic action for an extended period of time implies that you are idiotic. Your brain surgeon-key analogy is quite frankly absurd. He neither chose to perform the action, nor continued to do it for 8 days.

            You then seem to have got confused due to my neglecting proper use of paragraphs. My bad, punctuation isn't my strong suit. The second sentence was in reply to the previous person who declared I was ranting at arts students in general. This was not the case, it was only at the leftie occupiers. I was simply pointing out that they have time to sit in a room for a week listening to communist poetry etc., whereas if I missed a day of labs/work I'd be working extra for weeks to catch up. I was then pointing out that employers' perception of arts students sitting around doing very little constructively to their lower job prospects.

            I agree profusely with you that an arts student can put in the same hours as a scientist. I was simply pointing out that not many do, and this paints a picture to employers who would rather hire someone they know has worked long and hard for their degree and has not simply sat around drinking tea and shopping.

            Finally, I do science not because I love it, but because it is the best way to contribute to society. Without scientists working long and hard, the world we live in would not exist in any way shape or form. I'm not so sure that the study of art has improved quality of life in the same way.

            • arts student

              I think you can't blame me for addressing what you actually said rather than what you meant.

              You didn't claim that you were working given the assumption that they're mostly arts students, that was stated as fact. Likewise the claim about the occupation not being an individual action but an extended disposition was made above, not in your original post.

              Of course the study of arts hasn't improved quality of life in the same way, it's improved it in a different way. I'm not accusing you of making this conflation but many people assume that because sciences are prior to the arts (in the sense that studying arts well is dependent on living in a society with a certain level of technological development) we can somehow do without them.

              That's just not the case. Without a decent grounding in history we'd never learn the mistakes of bad policy, without literature we'd have a culture devoid of imaginative empathy. Without philosophy and logic, computer science would never have been invented and the way we think about scientific methodology would be a lot poorer.

              We need scientists, and lawyers and economists and publishers, politicians, development workers, teachers and writers. We need people who have the wealth of masses of wisdom from the past. We need people who are creative and we need people who can shape the future of technology and healthcare. Anybody who doesn't recognise that all disciplines have a place in society and are worth studying, hasn't really grasped how the way we live now is dependent on about a million different ideas and not all of them are purely scientific ones.

              • Arguing Cunts

                Get a life!

  • gte

    Politically opinionated students are annoying.

    • Sigh

      That's so not the point mate.

      • Strange

        But still true.

  • Hilarius Bookbinder
  • Anonymous
  • Yet again,

    CDE demonstrate that they are dicks.

  • Hard Worker

    Don't these people have supervisions to prepare for?

    • Not studying English

      of course they don't, they're occupying the sidgwick site

  • Sensible man

    One of my main problems is that not a single thing any of them shouted made any sense whatsoever. Most of it was deeply metaphorical and 'clever'. The other thing I hated about it was that it was a disgusting, self-indulgent and profoundly anti-democratic act. I am ashamed that I am also a Cambridge university student.

  • CDE?

    By occupying a lecture theatre so that nobody else can use it they're either taking their name way to literally…

    or they're just selfish

    • J. J.

      All lectures will still be running. The occupiers have told the university that they want lectures to continue and have, in fact, added a series of additional lectures and discussion groups.

    • taja

      lectures took place as usual this morning, without any disruption.

  • 1-per-cent

    If that's what the 99% are like then I know where I stand…

  • Non-communist

    Absolute clowns, why doesn't the University grow some bollocks and deal with these people or else its demonstrating the way to get heard is to bully and shout? Get security to come in and remove the offending individuals then they can go before their own college deans to plead their case for being allowed to stay at the university.

    • J.J.

      When people aren't listened to, they raise their voices. When men repeat themselves and show no will to alter a trajectory which leads to the brutalising of something very important to many people, those people will take action.

      • Cont

        … by eating crisps in a conference room, ultimately.

  • Disgusted

    I was at the talk, and the protestor's spiel was the most pretentious heap of cliched crap that I've ever heard, and I've been at Cambridge 2 years.
    If they wanted to challenge Willets, they should have listened politely to his talk (which was only going to be 30 minutes), and then taken part in the questions afterwards (which were going to be for 45 minutes).
    They didn't even let him speak, cowardly twats, as if they were frightened to hear what he might say.
    I'm no fan of the changes being made in higher education, but this wasn't the right way to go about making things better. These people don't even deserve to be at Oxford, let alone here.

    • Hmm

      Deja Vu

  • The Majority

    “I realise a lot of people think he should be allowed to speak….The argument that we have a debate has ceased to be relevant… it is irresponsible of us to allow him to have a platform.”

    What the hell gives you the authority to decide that for the rest of us?!

    • Timothy Jonson

      This thing you all keep bleating about: "freedom of speech".

      • Not Timothy Jonson

        No, freedom of speech means that you're allowed to _say_ you don't think he should be allowed to speak.

      • Free Speech

        You don't get me at all Timothy.

  • maxkl

    Brilliant! I know, next time, let's all gather together and burn his book!!!! that'll show him.

  • CDE

    I didn't like some of the comments above, so I used a vegan marker pen to write poetry over them on the screen of my MacBook Pro. It's must better now.

  • FM_

    The least surprising thing of all of this is that none of the critical comments I have left at the CDE blog have been published. Defend Education? Last night this lot proved that their only interest was in destroying it, silencing debate and shouting without interruption.

    They seem to think that no student voice has been heard at the Idea of the University lectures, but that's a complete lie – there has been ample opportunity for questions and engagement from students, with lectures even finishing early because there weren't enough questions from the audience. Where were these people then, when there was space and time for them to make their point? Where were they? Will they be back next week to discuss things? I doubt it.

  • fen man

    shame on you cambrige students

  • fen man

    unite and fight workers/ students one man in hospitaL

  • Free Max B

    what i dont get is why everyone keeps calling these people marxists/communists? surely theyre just democrats as they are essentially campaigning (undemocratically in the sense of not allowing willets to speak) for democracy (in the sense of our elected representatives making decisions the people actually want). I am fully behind them if that is their cause. But they are probably the most pretentious-bullied-at-school-weirdos in cambridge and their methods completely contradict their aims.

    • Fixed that for you

      "in the sense of our elected representatives making the decisions that SOME people actually want"

  • Disillusioned

    I was involved in the original occupation of the Old Schools Senior Combination Room. I was not particularly opposed to higher fees, but felt that the marketisation of higher education was a terrible mistake and the Leszek was not doing a good enough job of listening to students.

    Since then, I've lost my faith in the protestors. For me, the first occupation was marked by being relatively inclusive, large and sparking a lot of debate among students. It also was occupying a non-education space.

    These latest protests seem more like a tiny clique intent on showing anger rather than constructive criticism or argument. I would have like to have seen them demolish Willet's arguments rather than yell incoherently.

  • FYI
  • So Much Action

    “UPDATE 03.50pm November 23rd

    Opinions remain divided on the actions of the actions of the occupiers.”

  • To quote a comment on http://badconscience.com/2011/11/22/selfish-and-deluded/

    Why do a group that claim to represent the masses make such an effort to distinguish themselves from the masses?

    By acting so dramatically they create a divide between themselves and people with identical views (most of the audience who came to have a sensible discussion). This kind of behaviour leads to people like yours truly finding these folk rather irritating and attention-seeking. This in turn can lead you to become apathetic on a crucially important topic like education, just because you wish to spite these annoying little people. They need to realise that such behaviour can actually work against them.

    But they won’t listen to me, probably because I maintain reasonable hygienic standards.

  • Caian

    And because of this, the library gets fucked up again… Sigh.

  • CDE's Website

    '7:30pm Poets from London and Edinburgh read translation of Russian and Peruvian anti-capitalist poetry'

    Says it all.

  • SamuelPeeps

    These bloody Marxists.
    > 'A Rebel's Guide to Rosa Luxemburg'
    > ''7:30pm Poets from London and Edinburgh read translation of Russian and Peruvian anti-capitalist poetry'

    And they expect to be taken seriously?!

  • Curious

    I wonder if the person in the photograph above with an 'education for the 99%' realises that this figure is based on statistics regarding distribution of wealth in the US, and means very little, if anything, in this context.

    • yeah

      I'm involved in the protests and, to a reasonable degree, the occupation, and this bothers/irritates me, as well. It's taken on a symbolic meaning, I suppose, and is being used in occupation rhetoric worldwide, now, but for all that you can't get away from the fact that it retains its numerical significance. In England, it'd be more like the 80% or something, right? And even then, that slogan conflates two issues (distribution of wealth, provision of education) which, while connected, are not identical.

      But if you have issues with the way that arguments are being made, and ideas expressed, come along and contribute to the discussion. A lot is at stake here. Not in the short term, because the white paper is going to go through regardless of what we say or do, but in the long term. The mistakes being made now are going to have to be fixed; it's imperative to start encouraging a wider public understanding of the issues, and more specifically of the changes being made/their implications, as soon as possible.

      There are many people who support the occupation but feel troubled by aspects of it, the Willetts incident, for example, being a particular focus of dispute. If you believe in the cause, though — you might not, and there's no way of telling from your comment, but equally, you might — then that's what should come first.

      If you think things are not being done in the best way possible, and certainly some things are not, then sitting at home grumbling about them will do nothing. Bring your ideas into the mix. This is an action, ultimately, in the interests of our whole society's wellbeing. That those involved currently represent a relatively narrow base is a problem which can only be solved by people like you choosing to pitch in and play a part.

      That's a particularly tangential tangent, I know. But, well, think about it.

      • Curious

        I respect your position, and do believe in the cause, but I don't think the occupation is going to help anything. To me it seems like activism for the sake of it, like jumping on the bandwagon of the occupy movement. I don't feel the need to go there to bring my ideas into the mix. This comment section is probably read a lot more than the occupiers are heard, and there's more value in discussion where people can give considered responses to each other (like here) than at an occupation where (pardon my preconception) a bunch of wanktivists will be waiting for their turn to say What Must Be Done.

        That said, I fully support the spirit of the movement. I don't even have much of a problem with the Willetts interruption. It was incredibly misguided, and the response has shown it was a mistake, but it also wasn't the free speech issue it's been made out to be. It's an unreasonable comparison, perhaps, but Nick Griffin wouldn't be allowed to speak at Cambridge, and only an idiot would think of that as a violation of his free speech. It's strong statement against Willett's legitimacy, and from everything I've heard he has no right to tell us what a University is. That being said, it was unreasonably selfish to presume to stop those attending the talk from hearing what he had to say. If the protesters had waited till he had finished, they could have made their position just as clear without turning the university against them. A big loss in the battle for hearts and minds.

  • Bupeter

    Mr. Prynne doesn't have a doctorate. That's why he's called Mr. Prynne.

  • Juan Sheet

    Tab, check your facts – the email sent out today was an emergency motion raised by a MEMBER of KCSU and is not part of KCSU policy. For it to become KCSU policy, it has to be approved by the Open Meeting taking place tomorrow (Thursday).

    • Chad Allen

      True dat

      • KCSU

        I got policy.

        Bitches love policy.

  • Reason

    It's terrifying how those on the extreme left systematically try to annihilate any opinion that differs from theirs.

  • TPJ

    I don't mind the protests, because it means I don't have to go to lectures and so can train with the U21s instead!

    • TPJ

      ps. my Dad loves bumble bees

      • beehave

        nawwww

  • Head in hands

    Not only was this protest an affront to free speech, an insult to the person invited to speak and to all those, including me, who wished to hear him; it was also unintelligent. The chanting of the so-called epistle put one in mind of a cult, of a group of people who have to be 'right' come what may. Its content, after its few first lofty phrases, was merely dictatorial and droned deafeningly on. An object lesson in how to drown out all debate. What a depressing day for one of our highest institutions.

  • Why don't they

    …get a life?

  • Haters gonna hate

    Regardless of a love for Peruvian poetry and the prevention of a debate, I for one find it comforting that not every student at this university has given up on education. Despite the outrage we all felt this time last year, 99% of have no doubt done nothing about it since then except from the occasional outburst in a marginally heated conversation to no-one-who-really-matters. So, while I half-heartedly do my week 8 supervision work, go to Christmas Formal and have a trip to Cindies which I immediately regret once I walk in the door, I'd like to thank the pretentious, cliquey 1% who are actually doing something about the Cambridge middle class liberalism so many of us profess.

    • Bemused

      I don't know what point you just made, but I still disagree with you.

    • Yet again

      You've also fallen foul of thinking every student agrees with you, purely because you think it's in their best interests. PLEASE stop saying "despite the outrage we all felt this time last year", or saying posts are from "WeTheStudents", and respect that a lot of people do not agree with you.

    • Oblate Spheroid

      I was exceedingly impressed with the change in university fees policy. It is finally fair. I really don't understand why no one else understands it.

  • fuck these people

    i don't want to live on this planet anymore

    • Jesus

      Cambridge Defend Education?

      Why not Zoidberg?

  • Some guy

    Dear haters,

    Remind yourselves that actions speak louder than words. Compare David Willetts's actions against the protesters' and perhaps your hate levels might decrease.

    • Nope…

      still don't like you

    • The Punctuator

      Your use of apostrophes fills me with rage.

      • really?

        they're completely correct. 'protesters' is plural, and 'Willetts' is not a classical name.

  • Reader

    Has anyone read CDE's blog? In their "Safer Spaces Policy", they make this statement:

    "We will challenge any oppressive language or behaviour, regardless of intention; for example telling an oppressive joke, or interrupting someone on the basis of unspoken privilege. Providing a safe and welcoming space is everyone’s responsibility: it is not only the duty of those subject to oppression. We ask all participants to challenge attitudes and behaviour in a way that is respectful and constructive."

    I really hope they understand the hypocrisy of their policy!

  • Son of a MILF

    Tab readers, please help with an epistle quandary…

    There’s a chap hanging about outside the house and he’s under mother’s bedroom window and doing an “epistle”.

    What do I do?…

    A. Throw a bucket of water over him like daddy does when the spaniels get excited?

    B. Win “hearts and minds” by shouting “Eppizle my mizzle” (from a safe distance) relying on the military training that a chap picks up during a spell at prep school serving in the CDC.

    C. Call the Police and hope that they deal out some proper justice like they do to Brazilian Electricians or English Newspaper vendors?

  • Guest

    Why are all of them so ugly?

  • Jesus

    30 protesters from a university of 18,000?

    They are the 0.17%

  • Delusional idiots

    They want free education? What a load of bullshit. I think German universities (and elsewhere in mainland Europe) show that that unlimited free education just doesn't work.

    • German Student

      because Germany's economy has just gone to shit, right?

      • Unsure

        I'm not sure I see your point. Given that there are student loans available to all British students studying at a UK institution and (at Cambridge in particular) hardship funds and scholarships are plentiful, surely money shouldn't be the most fundamental issue stopping people from studying? In countries where there are no fees and no restricted admissions (ie tests/interviews etc), people just go to study without having any concrete plan, because it's a simple thing to do. This leads to dropout rates of sometimes well over 80% and is a huge waste of resources.

        I would argue that not every single person in a country needs a University degree; quite the opposite. Of course, money shouldn't be what prevents people from attending University…but given the loans, is it really? Of course the new fees are really very high indeed and will turn away many people from studying, but among rising rates of academics I'm not sure this is necessarily a bad thing (as long as there is selection towards the "right", ie bright/motivated people to still study. I would argue against *free" higher education being a human right (while primary and secondary education certainly are, of course!), although I can sympathise with the protests against funding cuts and the really rather exorbitant new fees.

  • Wow

    7.30 – Poets from London and Edinburgh will read translations of Mayakovsky, Vallejo and original anti-capitalist poems.

    Dullest evening ever???

  • Really?

    "What do we want? Free Education! When do we want it? Now!" – do they realise how ridiculous that sounds? We're receiving the best education in the world and these people complain that we have to pay for it!

    • anon

      You've kind of missed the point. "Our" education doesn't really come into it. They are protesting about the principle of education as a right and therefore should be free. It's quite a narrow-minded comment to think that they are protesting about their own situations – especially since none of the current students will even be (directly) affected by 9 grand fees.

      This coming from someone who doesn't believe in free education, but respects the point of view of those that do.

  • Silly

    So Michael Gove didn't even see them? Remind me again what the point of the stunt even was?

  • Margaret Hall Putsch

    A group of dissidents with an apparent intolerance of freedom of speech breaking into a local meeting place to interrupt a politicians speech, occupying the building in the process, determined to speak for majority without popular support…

  • Misleading

    "What do we want? Free education!"

    This simply doesn't make sense. Education, whether at school level or university, will never be 'free'. Even if we students didn't have to pay fees, our education costs would be footed by the tax-payer (i.e. us when we start working!).

    There will always be a cost, and blurring the very real issue of who should be burdened with this cost by demanding "free education" is misleading and naive.

    The new reforms would move some of the burden away from the tax-payer and onto the students receiving higher education themselves. Whether we agree with this or not should be the topic of a genuine debate (probably the type of debate that could have happened if the Willetts talk hadn't been ruined!), not some ridiculous demand for a 'free education'.

    • taja

      when people campaign for a free NHS, its obvious they mean free at the point of delivery. its obvious, in the context of fee hikes, that calls for free education mean the same. CUSU, let alone CDE, argues for free university education funded through general taxation.

      All of that is up for debate. But what is not up for debate is the White Paper; the consultation period for it ended several months ago, with an enormous wave of criticism from academics and universities utterly ignored by the government.
      http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?shttp://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?shttp://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/comments.ashttp://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?s

      have you read the white paper? its a mess. and willetts is fully committed to it going through in the teeth of almost unanimous academic and institutional opposition.

      the CRASSH debate was preceded by attempts by the organisers to vet questions from the 300 academics within CACHE, the academic campaigning group; done via their mailing list, without any attempt to hide it. so much for Prof Goldhill touting the values of freedom of speech.

  • Balanced View

    I have thought long and hard about the various arguments for and against this occupation. I have considered many different points of view and thought through a number of scenarios and outcomes. It is a very complex situation with several different levels, motives, groups and sub-groups. Finally I have come to the conclusion that they are complete idiots. Get a life and go home. You're boring and noone cares.

  • Protest Virgin

    I would consider going in, but they don't seem very friendly. They seem quite intimidating and scary in fact

    • taja

      Have you actually tried entering the building? The students at the door are pretty friendly.

    • Newcomer

      Honestly, you should come along. I'm one of the occupiers (though mostly in the evening/night/early morning), and pretty much everyone here is very friendly and welcoming. I know that it might seem a bit cliquey, but it isn't — a good few of us here are also/were until very recently "protest virgins", or something close, and the older hands are far from unwelcoming. If anything, it's just that a lot of the people here, for all that they can argue well and are disposed to painting massive posters, are a bit shy as people. Just come in, introduce yourself, and get talking. And don't worry about differing in opinion; we're not a homogeneous mass. The thing's united primarily by opposition to the white paper, but beyond that it gets various.

      If you think it'd help to have social backup, bring some friends.

      Or, well, regardless. Bringing friends is great.

    • But

      I thought they were quite nice.

  • annoyed

    All Cambridge students HATE CDE. Now bore off back to whatever hole you came from

    • Set Theory

      Every single one? Is there even anyone in the lecture theatre?

  • clarification

    How can you be anti-capitalist and believe in free education? Surely being anti-capitalist, if you're really genuine about it, means no economy, no taxpayer, no government money. So if anti-capitalists got their way (aside from no electricity, running water, or anything made overseas), we'd rely on the goodwill of random passers by. Humm.

    • Suggestion

      There might be better ways of learning about the alternatives to capitalism than asking loaded questions to no-one in particular in the comments section of an article on the Tab. I believe there are books on the subject, maybe even Wikipedia articles.

      • Scoreboard

        Pointmanteux!

  • p o'd

    That awkward moment when your supervisor is late because he's been too busy acting like A MASSIVE FUCKING HIPPIE

  • Anon

    It was never to disaffiliate…cause thank god, CUSU was never affiliated to you in the first place.

  • fen

    no ifs no buts you area bunch of twats

  • eschew hygiene

    showering is a capitalist social construct

  • JC (again!)

    serieously they jus need 2 get jobs fukin wankers. so annoyin

  • Homeless

    Awesome, didn't know a new shelter had been opened up!