Saturday 11th December 2010
Yesterday, we the occupiers of G7 Pavilion Parade collectively decided to suspend the occupation that began on the 24th of November.
The end of this occupation marks the culmination of numerous successes. Starting as a result of the three thousand strong mass demonstration in Brighton on the 24th November, this has become the largest student occupation at the University of Brighton in recent years. Furthermore, in conjunction with the many occupations across the country, this occupation has forced the NUS into a change of policy, shifting its control back into the hands of the students it represents. As a direct result of this, our occupation has secured the support of our own Students’ Union who were originally reticent in offering it. Our actions have also helped in generating wider recognition of occupation as a legitimate form of non-violent direct action, an important step given the now proven futility of depending on Parliamentary politics to reflect popular opinion.
The occupation has created a space which has served a variety of functions, the most immediate being the advancement of an alternative form of higher education. It has also operated as a base from which direct action throughout Brighton can be organised, which in turn has been successful in raising the consciousness of the general public as well as students at the University of Brighton. These successes, at both a local and national level, have demolished the myth of student apathy and have demonstrated that students can be the catalyst for broader social change, spear-heading the struggle against the advancement of neo-liberalism.
There are still many issues we wish to raise with Professor Crampton, Vice Chancellor of the University of Brighton. However, Professor Crampton has recently shown himself duplicitous in that his statements to students and staff are radically different to his statements in the national broadsheets. To his students and staff, Professor Crampton has said that he would oppose any policy which would “significantly increase individual contributions”, claiming that it would be “damaging to the country’s economic and social development and to the success of the English university system which underpins it.” However, as a signatory to a recent letter in the Telegraph (see http://bit.ly/fGXKB4) he has stated that he believes “that the Government’s proposals for university funding are reasonable”, and urged Members of Parliament to vote in favour of tripling the cap on tuition fees.
While we are eager to continue a dialogue with Professor Crampton, given his duplicity, we aren’t hopeful it will be a productive one. Our collective voice is heard most clearly when spoken through the medium of non-violent direct action.
An occupation is not the room it is based in, it is the people that are a part of it. And these people extend far beyond those who slept in Pavilion Parade for over two weeks. The people who brought us delicious food; the people who shared their myriad skills; and the people who sent messages of support from as far away as Spain, Greece, Argentina, Mexico and Palestine – all these people occupied Pavilion Parade.
While the ideology of neo-liberalism continues to attempt to privatise our higher education, we will continue to resist.
END OF PRESS RELEASE
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