Full report from Sussex: “our unity has management terrified”

The unity between workers and a radicalised student body has our management terrified. This is amply demonstrated by their resorting to tactics of intimidation in an attempt to scare people from demonstrating, occupying and joining the picket line when UCU strike next Thursday.

Last Wednesday they brought in the riot police to attack a peaceful protest, they have attained a high court injunction (by means of misinformation and deceit) which designates occupations as a criminal offence and they have suspended at random six students for their involvement with the campaign.

These tactics have, of course, back fired and have resulted in strengthening the solidarity of the university community and broadening our movement significantly. The day they announced the suspensions we held an emergency demonstration at 6pm which was attended by around 200 people.  We have started a photo campaign where we take pictures of people holding a sign saying “I occupied Sussex house. This has been very successful; we have over 300 pictures of students and workers from the university and the
Brighton community and have been sent pictures from across the country (as far as Aberdeen!). We have these pictures on display in the centre of our campus. We have also been collecting signatures for a petition which has been signed by almost 2000 people.
We have received a huge amount of support from trade unions in Brighton and are very grateful for their solidarity.

On Wednesday we had held our biggest demonstration to date: numbering 500+ people. It was attended by more lecturers than previous demonstrations and there were allot of new faces from the student body as well. We marched to Sussex house where the crowd was addressed by students and trade unionists. We then marched to and occupied one of our main lecture theatres (Arts A2- a symbolic place to occupy as we held it for a week last year in solidarity with the people of Gaza). We issued two demands:

  1. That a member of management comes and collects the petition for reinstatement of the suspended students.
  2. The unconditional reinstatement of the six students who were suspended and excluded last week.

At around 5pm two members of senior management came into the occupied space and collected the petition. The room was packed past capacity with around 300 students. We were silent until the petition was handed over and the room erupted with cheering. It was a great show of our numbers and strength and was a rare moment of actually seeing management. They left in silence.

No statement was made.

We have not heard anything in regards to our second demand and so have decided to stay in occupation and are holding a Teach In throughout the day today. We have planned workshops, film screenings and talks by lectures and workers from the university. We heard from cleaning staff this morning and hope to further our links with the other unions at the university: Unison and Unite.

We have a lot of support and are confident that our demands will be won.

About educationactivistnetwork
The education activist network provides national coordination for trade unionists, academics, university workers and student campaigners fighting to defend jobs and education in the UK.

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