BERKELEY, California – 9 demonstrators chained themselves together on the ledge of Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley earlier in the afternoon demanding that the tuition hikes be repealed. One has been pulled down by UCPD and arrested, while at least six are chained together along side a few that aren’t. This follows last night’s arrest of 17 students while occupying the foyer of the same building. Fire alarms appeared to have been pulled in several buildings, and at least one class appears to be continuing on outside on the steps of Wheeler Hall.
3:30pm: supporters outside are delivering some fruit, water and a megaphone to those on the ledge.
3:50pm: three supporters were detained after trying to hang up banners from the windows by police.
- Roll back the fee hikes, both the 8 % increase of 2010 and the 32 % of 2009.
- End police repression on campus. Hands off student protesters!
- Democratize the Regents.
- Put a stop to Operational Excellence, our campus’ incarnation of structural adjustment programs.
5:30pm: According to DailyCal, the administration is planning on sending in the Multicultural Center coordinator to negotiate.
6:20pm: Pepper spray is reportedly being used by riot police who have arrived on the scene in droves (~80). Apparently so has a another wave of supporters (~400).
7:00pm: Police appear to be setting up metal barricades in the back of Wheeler. Supporters are asking for more folks to come out.
8:30pm: Ledge demonstrators are unlocking themselves.
9:20pm: Demonstrators come down, join the crowd in ecstatic cheering. The one demonstrator arrested earlier on the ledge rejoins them.
-Students charged from recent protests (including last night) will be offered probation from the office of student conduct.
-meeting with chancellor
Recently, the UK has seen the rise of a mass student movement in opposition to huge increases in course fees across British universities, combined with cuts to research and other aspects of the tertiary education system. Below is an interview with Dan, a former member of the Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement who is now living in the UK, and was involved in a 2 day long occupation at his own university in London.
Can you give us a little background on the attacks on students that have led to this upsurge in struggle?
Having spent billions of pounds bailing-out banks, Europe’s state finances are being abandoned by the markets they propped up. The politicians and economists (and unsurprisingly bankers and their chums) are united in the consensus that the only way forward is to take a hatchet to state budgets, the only arguments being over how fast and exactly where the hatchet shall fall. The new government in Britain has thrown itself at the task with seeming abandon. 25% of the public finances are to be cut over the next four years. Every public service is to be affected and amongst the most savage cuts are those to University funding. 80% of the university teaching budget from government is to be hacked away; funding for research is to be trimmed down so that only research projects deemed “commercially useful” will receive money i.e. only things that can be sold.
To plug the funding gap, the government proposes to triple tuition fees for students from ~£3500 to £9000 (from NZ$7230 to NZ$18,590) per year. Once loans for living allowances are added to this, students in Britain will be leaving university in 5 years time with upwards of £40,000 (NZ$82,620) worth of debt to their name. For many graduates, this will rule out mortgages and home owning for much of their adult life.
Young people can see the writing on the wall. For those without the safety net of a privileged background, the increase in tuition fees will end their dreams of a university education. In a hostile job-market where 1 in 5 graduates with degrees are already struggling to find a job, the undertaking of such massive debt is a huge risk. The first generation in this country with substantial student debt is currently graduating from university. We understand the pressures of such debt better than anyone else and certainly better than a government that consists of 18 millionaires in its cabinet. We understand it and we balk at increasing this pressure by 200%.
From Occupied Oxford
We are in the Radcliffe Camera. We came to this building as a centre of knowledge, a centre of concentration, restriction, enclosure. Our wish was for the university to be recreated as an ‘other’ space: released. Our first pronouncement on entering was that no longer would you have to display your credentials, your receipt. Access to this space would not be conditional upon which identity card you hold, an identity constituted by the criteria to which you have conformed, the fee you have paid. Since we arrived no one has shown an ID, yet [at this point police raided the building, the remaining text is written in a house a few hundred metres from the centre of Oxford] only another twenty have joined the occupation — those who came in the middle of the night. Our actions gave the university and state a choice, either the university would be open to everyone or no-one. They chose no-one.
University is a location which exists at the intersection of systems.
To choose everyone would undermine the university as the pre-eminent location of the inter-systemic construction of knowledge as domination by a particular class. The foundation for such domination rests upon the limiting of claims to knowledge to those which concord with preformed conceptual frameworks. The practice of domination through the delimited production of knowledge is thus contingent upon the control of a vocabulary, a body of legitimate reference. The university serves as the location of this control to the extent that to be situated within it confers right to confirm or disconfirm claims to knowledge. In order to maintain its existence the university, then, necessarily reproduces itself as a mechanism conferring rights to epistemic authority. This first mechanism of the university is the accreditation of the person, work; it first acts to qualify-disqualify a right to membership.
They chose no-one.
The credentials upon which access to university are conditional represent the first signifier of a deferential relation: one has to prove one’s worth, one’s self and one will continue to do so. As external criteria are internalised, an attempt to meet demands becomes the process of constituting oneself. Conditional entry ensures that the university has set about framing, modifying, the individual even before they arrive. Yet, the university as a location of subject-formation extends beyond its members and potential-applicants. Within the university a standard is set against which the legitimacy of every subject is measured, as this location defines the standard by which the boundaries of the production of knowledge are set. Epistemic authority is thus enclosed by a process which ensures that subjects who are deemed to hold such authority are always those produced at that location, never outside it. It is only those within the university that achieve accreditation and who therefore hold a right to knowledge-production. In turn, as this standard is not isolated from the systems the university intersects, the products of the university serve to reproduce those intersecting systems.
The university is underwritten by the same structural logics inherent to the systems within which it is situated — the logics of scarcity and return.
Any product, to have value within a capitalist system, must be one to which access can be restricted. The university’s product is knowledge. The viability of the university is therefore dependent upon knowledge’s restriction (once ripped away it will fall J~), knowledge as commodity. The university is a location of the state’s investment in its subjects, and a subject investing in herself. Any investment demands the promise of return. The return of the university is determined by the extent to which its product serves as agent of the reproduction of complicit systems. The product, the individual, is therefore subjected to myriad criteria, standards of knowledge set by multiple systems of power. The university is thus the location of a meticulous government of individuals there produced. Divided, ranked, graded, individualised and under surveillance the potential of the product to perform is guaranteed, a return secured. The standards against which a product’s success will be defined are set by the very location in which the product is materialised. A standard implies a homogeneity, and a population which meets a standard is governable; it is the employment of different classes of subject, of governable, productive division which allows a system to work. The foundations of coalescent hierarchies, order, efficiency, enclosure, are undermined by the uncategorised individual – the void of power. The logics which maintain order within the university are those same logics which maintain order in the systems within which the university is situated. The order of the university supports the order of the systems it intersects.
The university cannot exist with open doors. To liberate education we cannot attempt to reform the university, instead we must destroy it. But first, we must seize control of any of its resources we consider of use, of value. That is, its resources which can be resituated outside of a framework in which their value is instrumental solely toward the reproduction of the systems which the university intersects. It is meaningless to engage in dialogue with the system of governance located within the university. Or even to seize its control. To control the university would be to control a location defined by the conferring of accreditation. We seek an education whose value is determined by its participants rather than its directors. We are therefore faced with two imperatives. The first, to negate the necessity, the relevance, of such accreditation, for this is the means by which we undermine the relevance of the location itself. Once we ignore accreditation it disappears. Yet, located within the university a material resource remains. Our second imperative is to seize this resource, release it.
* This piece was composed by a few rather than all the members of the occupation of the Radcliffe Camera and necessarily does not represent the views of the entirety of those involved
From Glasgow Anarchists:
Yesterday, November 24th, was a national day of action against cuts in the education sector and the massive rise in fees faced by students in England and Wales. All across the country students walked out of their schools, colleges and universities and took to the streets or occupied buildings on their campuses.
Occupations, teach-ins and walk outs took place in Kent, Birmingham, Loughborough, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Essex, Hastings, Winchester, Dursley, Leominster, Bradford, Newcastle, Durham, Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff, London, Plymouth, Sheffield, Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Manchester, Lancaster, Warwick, Southampton and more. A full list and reports can be found on Indymedia.
The events of yesterday at the University of Glasgow will hopefully show two things. First, that there is palpable anger at these government plans and a genuine willingness to show solidarity with students in England and Wales who are going to be the first to feel the education cuts. Secondly, that the student movement has to be careful to resist attempts by certain factions to neuter and control the movement.
Mark is a third year Biology student studying at Sheffield University and a member of the Anarchist Federation. He is one among many students currently occupying the Hicks Building on Sheffield University campus. The views expressed in the interview should be considered his alone and not that of the occupation’s general assembly.
– Why are you occupying the Hicks building today?
We are occupying for a variety of reasons but generally around the common purpose of being against the cuts in this university, to other universities and to education in general. Particularly we want to demonstrate against the proposed rise in tuition fees and the ongoing privatisation of higher education. However, we are also tying our actions to a wider struggle against austerity measures and cuts. So our occupation is about more than just education cuts but this is currently our primary focus.
– What has been the reaction of University security/the police so far?
They haven’t taken any action to stop us occupying yet but they have told us after 6pm that everyone who is leaving won’t be able to return. This will presumably be until tomorrow morning. It might open up again after 8am. We haven’t had any major trouble so far but police have been inside to observe what was going on. It should be stated thought that we have no intention of damaging university property. This is a peaceful occupation.
– Why should the occupation be supported?
Because the tactic of occupation, as opposed to lobbying or simply asking political representatives to make changes for us, is a tactic that has been historically successful. Clegg and his broken promise to scrap tuition fees is just one example, among many, that politicians cannot be trusted to make decisions for us. Direct action puts a lot more pressure on university management and by extension government ministers to act.
Aside from the past success of these kinds of tactics what we are fighting for is essentially access to education for everybody regardless of income. We also recognise that there is a much wider struggle beyond simply what is happening to education right now. We need to extend these tactics into all of these areas where we are currently under attack. This is a fight that all of us should be taking on and working in solidarity with each other.
– What can people do to help?
One of the main things people can do to help is to start organising actions like these themselves. We need to build a grassroots movement that is working towards our mutual advantage. This needs to be led by those affected. We should resist the attempts of both trade union and political party bureaucrats to either lead or divert the ultimate aims of the struggle.
In addition to this, spreading the word about what is going on and combating negative media coverage are also useful practical things that can be done.
For local people, I would encourage them to participate themselves in the action, bring food, bedding (if this is possible) and any other practical skills you can share.
– What do you make of Aaron Porter’s recent comments that the students are “aligning themselves with the anarchists”?
Firstly I think it is worth pointing out that he is mistaken in the sense that he is probably largely referring to many students who aren’t, or have little knowledge of, anarchists. The only sense in which students are “aligning with anarchists” is the fact that anarchist principles are in line with the type of actions that students are currently taking – direct action, assembly democracy, non-hierarchy and the rejection of representatives.
People, students in particular, are coming to the realisation that simply asking politicians to do something doesn’t work. The result is that they are starting to take matters into their own hands, collectively and at a grassroots level.
Anarchist education workers and students are very much a part of these struggles but certainly a minority within them. The tactics – of self-management, non-hierarchy and direct action – have been adopted in many places quite spontaneously. This is, of course, far more preferable to us! It’s ultimately what we want – not a struggle controlled or led by anarchists, but one that shares our goals, tactics and principles.
Occupiers of the Fulton building at Sussex University today issued a statement from the occupation explaining their reasons and putting forward demands.
From Defend Sussex:
Statement from the occupation:
November 15, 2010
This afternoon, over 170 students occupied the lecture theatre in the Fulton building at the University of Sussex in protest of the trebling of tuition fees and the attack on our education system.
In light of Wednesday’s demonstration, which saw 52,000 people come out in opposition to the government’s proposed cuts to education and raising of fees, we feel it is necessary for further action to consolidate the efforts made so far and push on in the opposition to these ideologically motivated cuts to both education specifically and public services as a whole.
We reject the notion that these cuts are necessary or for the benefit of society. There are viable alternatives which are not being explored. While the government has suggested that ‘we are all in this together’, we completely reject this and are insulted that these cuts are being pushed through alongside reductions in corporate tax. We feel these cuts are targeting those who are most vulnerable in our society.
Furthermore, not only are these cuts damaging our current education, but are changing the face of the education system as we know it. The hole in finances left by government cuts will inevitably be filled by private interest. This marketization of education will destroy the prospect of free and critical academic enquiry, on which universities should be based. The trebling of tuition fees will further exclude another swathe of society and make university accessible only to the rich.
We reject the media manipulation of the occupation of Millbank. The cost of the damage to 30 Millbank is less than insignificant when set against the damage of lost livelihoods and destruction of public services for future generations.
This occupation recognises that Aaron Porter’s statements condemning the demonstration are counter-productive and serve only to divide and segregate the movement. We are disappointed that, as a national representative of students, Aaron Porter’s statements have detracted from the real issue at hand by focusing on the events at Millbank Tower.
We believe that this Tory led coalition government has no mandate for lifting the cap on tuition fees. Nick Clegg has openly manipulated student voters in his campaign for election, and following the recent exposure of plans to drop his pledge to reject any rise in tuition fees, this occupation condemns his dishonesty and undemocratic methods.
Education is a right, not a privilege.
– We demand the University of Sussex management makes a statement condemning all cuts to higher education and rise in tuition fees
– We are opposed to all cuts to public services
– We oppose a rise in tuition fees
– We call for solidarity and support for those arrested or victimised on Wednesday’s demonstration
– We stand in solidarity with others taking action, both nationally and internationally, in the fight against austerity measures.
– We call for all other university, college and school students and staff to strike and occupy in defence of the future of our education system, and to participate in the national day of action on the 24th November 2010.
Around 200 students began an occupation at Sussex University today.
One student reported that “about 200 students went into occupation an hour ago at Sussex University. A statement is being drawn up at the moment. Messages of support can be sent to sussexstopthecuts (at) gmail.com.
If you are a student at sussex or brighton please join the occupation in Fulton building on Sussex Campus and bring along your friends, food, drink, sleeping equipment etc…
On Thursday, almost immediately following the protest in London, over fifty students occupied the John Owens building at Manchester university to demand that the books be opened. The university is in the process of starting a voluntary redundancy process, while denying any actual cuts are planned. The occupation was decided at an anti-cuts meeting that afternoon, while it ended the same day, students at the meeting reported that it had forced the issuing of a statement by the vice chancellor, and was used as an opportunity to plan further action.
At Royal Holloway University in London, students staged a short protest when Conservative MP and Secretary of State Philip Hammond and Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke visited the university last week.
anticuts.com reported that having heard very late on that the Ministers were coming a spontaneous protest was organised, dedicated students gathered to voice their opinions over the proposed 40% education cuts, receiving cheers and horns from supportive students driving past.
Students delayed Clarke’s departure from the campus with a nonviolent road blocking chanting “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!” Clarke told the students that “unfortunately there aren’t enough rich people” for there to be any alternative to the cuts. Philip Hammond left The Founder’s Building by foot heading to car park 12. As he walked away students chanted and posed questions. When asked “Are you happy about the education cuts?” Hammond conceded that he was not happy about the cuts, adding that he felt there was no other choice. Mr Hammond, himself a multi-millionaire, chose not to answer a question regarding the disparity between how the cuts will affect the poorest 10% compared with the richest 10%.
Students peacefully blocked the exit to car park 12 singing chants until Police and RHUL security pushed them out of the way. The only upset came when students saw that Mr Hammond was using his mobile phone whilst driving and the Police refused to do anything. The demonstration ended with clapping and high spirits with students pleased at being able to remind the Government members of their commitment to campaigning against the education cuts.
Prior to the London protests, students at Goldsmiths in London occupied Deptford Town Hall, also in protest against cuts.
To discuss these occupations, the demo on the 10th November, or the day of action planned for 24th November, see the Autonomous Students Network forum on this site.
By Mark Harrison
The NUS and police were completely unprepared for the 50,000 angry students who descended on Central London. The demonstration was completely chaotic, people were travelling in all directions, hand made placards ranged from the uninspired ‘keep the cap’, the “hilarious” (David Cameron engaging in anal sex with Nick Clegg), to the visionary “University for Everyone”. Finding the much discussed ‘free education bloc’ was an impossibility, let along finding your own comrades.
Personally, direction was only given to the demonstration when a NUS steward said to me, “Don’t go off the right, that’s Tory HQ, carry on forward for the NUS route”. It seems that great minds think alike as most chose to ignore the mind numbing speeches made by NUS and UCU tops and aimed for the headquarters of the traditional party of the bourgeoisie.
I had not realised that the demonstration was set to pass this building, if I had it would have been common sense to expect the events that followed. The youth were riled up and seemed determined to occupy the roof of every bus stop en-route. There may have been some semi conspiratorial plotting but we would have seen the same scenes anyway. Anger at the cuts has been focused on the Conservative Party, “Tory Scum” was the slogan of the day.
Some protesters were able to force their way right inside the Millbank building, eyewitnesses report absolute havoc. Attempting to rip up everything whether it was nailed down or not. Windows were smashed at the higher reaches of the building, and graffiti sprayed around. Thousands of students built a bonfire out of placards outside the building whilst protesters emerged on the roof, some unfurled a Revolution banner, one waved an Antifa flag whilst another waved the traditional red and black flag. They were received with an enormous cheer, and responded by showering us with Elastoplasts, a fire extinguisher and copies of Socialist Worker.
The police were finally able to gather enough numbers to stop people entering the building en masse although students completely took over the reception area. A sound system started playing dubstep leading to a Reclaim The Streets carnival atmosphere.
A second contingent of police was brought in to try and disperse the crowd but they were actually driven away by the sheer weight of numbers and the amount of placards thrown at them.
A report on the demonstration and attack on the Tory headquarters by students and education workers against cuts by the Anarchist Federation.
Wednesday saw one of the largest and most vibrant protests in London in recent history. Over 50,000 education workers and students took to the capital not only to protest against the rise in tuition fees but reforms in education in general and to protest for a fairer, free higher education system. The Anarchist Federation was among them forming a “radical workers’ and students’ bloc” which, along with London Solidarity Federation, argued that capitalism is the cause of this crisis, that the Left and the union leaders cannot be trusted to fight our battles (a point NUS president Aaron Porter later so aptly demonstrated) and that we need united, grassroots direct action as part of a sustained fightback.
Contrary to the corporate media commentaries, a significant portion of the march also involved itself in the property destruction and occupation at Millbank tower, home to the Conservative Party HQ. Direct action was not limited to this either, with the London School of Economics going into occupation shortly after the end of the protest, a sit-down protest in Parliament Square and some limited property destruction at Liberal Democrat HQ. Students and education workers have not only demonstrated their anger at the wave of attacks in store for a whole generation of young people, but their lack of faith in parliamentary democracy and the need to take the struggle into their own hands.
The media and official union response to this has hardly been surprising. Commentators were quick to denounce the actions at Millbank tower as that of a “militant minority”, “the Socialist Worker Party” or “anarchists”, to quote Harry Mount from The Telegraph “perhaps with a student card, from a third-rate institution they never visit, that cloaks their criminal violence with the figleaf of principled protest”. Aaron Porter quickly lined himself up behind his future employers joining the Labour Party in its denunciations. Cameron, for his part, has been quick to criminalise the protesters talking once more of ramping up policing in the capital – this is while the death of Ian Tomlinson at the hands of the Met lingers strong in the minds of many of us. None of the assessments of the Millbank protesters as a “militant minority”, “the Socialist Worker Party” or “anarchist alone” is accurate. Such a claim is made even more ridiculous by the rolling 24-hour news coverage that not only showed a clear diversity of students and education workers (yes, we were there too) taking great pleasure in smashing windows, office equipment and scuffling with the police, but the interviews with the occupiers themselves who often admitted this had been their first protest.
Yes, the anarchists were also involved in this action, of course we were. But what is this notion of the “apolitical” student and education worker that is being promoted by the media? Does the fact that we are anarchists preclude us from being “normal people”, from acting in solidarity with our fellow workers and students? We reject such a paralysing construct. It is designed to suffocate us, to force us into the image of the respectful, peaceful and, ultimately, obedient and ineffectual protester. We, like many of our fellow students and workers, recognise that only direct action will bring about meaningful change. That in order to fight the cuts we need to be not only fighting on the streets but building communities in our campuses, pushing for occupations, sit-ins, walkouts and the inclusion of those often excluded and marginalised in these struggles (the cleaners, porters, administrative and security staff who quietly labour in our universities under minimum wage).
Media pundits and politicians have also argued, and continue to argue, that students are somehow privileged or self-interested. This is the same divisory tactic being used against all public sector workers. In reality, as many students explained through TV interviews, this protest was not so much for themselves but for their younger brothers and sisters or even for their future children who otherwise wouldn’t be able to go to university. This is similar to the concern that many public workers have for service users, who will undoubtedly also suffer from cuts to services. We cannot allow these strong ties of solidarity, across generations and between service providers and service users, to be undermined. The rhetoric that certain workers/students are a privileged group implies they should not be supported by others. We need to recognise this for what it is – a divide and rule tactic.
We also affirm our commitment to supporting all those victimised/arrested as the result of their actions at Millbank towers. We encourage all education workers and students to do the same.
Wednesday was a sign of things to come. The students and education workers have been the first to speak in response to the austerity attacks, we encourage the rest of the working class to follow.