Category Archives: Solidarity

UCU Staff Strikes and Student Solidarity

We’re all too familiar with the education cuts and increased fees introduced by the government. Those of us already in education are lucky to have missed out on £9,000 a year fees. But for our teaching staff, for your lecturers and tutors, the effects will be felt much sooner. They are painfully aware that they or their colleagues may not have jobs within a year or two, and those who are lucky enough to stay face reduced pensions and cuts in real terms to their wages. For these reasons, the University and College Union (UCU) which represents many of our lecturers is this month holding a nationwide ballot on whether to take strike action.

The result won’t be known for some weeks yet. Until then, foremost on lecturer’s minds will be the impact of a strike on us, their students. Be under no illusion: causing us to lose valuable teaching time is a drastic, last resort action they would not choose to do lightly.

We believe it’s important that all students understand why the staff might do this. Some of you will be thinking, “how dare our tutors go on strike and risk damaging my education for their own benefit?” We would just ask you to think for a moment about what your education actually is and what your staff are here for. Do you want your university to be a sausage factory where disinterested staff go through the motions with you for three years and dish out flimsy, dubious degrees? Or did you choose Brighton because you wanted a collegiate atmosphere where the staff are passionate and engaged, and will expect you to challenge them as much as they challenge you? The superb atmosphere of learning we enjoy at Brighton only exists because we have excellent teaching staff who feel valued, respected and adequately paid for their contribution to society. Reduced teaching budgets, cutting pay and conditions, and especially the indignity of living in fear for their jobs, will inevitably mean fewer and less motivated lecturers are available to teach us. An assault on their pay and conditions is therefore an assault on the quality of your education.

As students committed to quality education we believe it’s crucial that lecturers can count on the understanding and support of their students if push comes to shove. Student support helped striking lecturers at Sussex overturn compulsory redundancies and ultimately save jobs last year. We urge you to think about this over the next few weeks until the vote is announced, and to be ready to back your staff if they do vote to strike. Because without our lecturers, there is no university.

Keep an eye on the blog for future announcements regarding student and staff solidarity actions.

Jan 26th Meeting

University of Brighton Student Union Elections

Tim met Sam Mallender (University of Brighton Student Union President) to find out more about the upcoming SU elections and the dates and deadlines of it.

  • Nominations are now open
  • To nominate yourself you need five backers to sign saying they will pledge their support to you*
  • 9th February is the closing date for nominations
  • 14th February is the deadline for publicity materials to be forwarded to the SU for your campaign.

*I think this is meant to mean that they have to actually be ready to support your campaigning efforts, and not just sign like a petition.

Although it is felt that ultimately the staff will always have the overriding powering in deciding the direction of the university, it is felt that the stop the cuts movement should make attempts at stimulating the union into being more pro-active in external and internal affairs through providing debate among the staff and students. We need people who can articulate themselves and present solid arguments that might have the potential to encourage greater political activity among the student and staff bodies. We want the UBSU to be more than just some careerist sabbaticals who fill their c.v.’s representing student apathy.

We are exploring a variety of possibilities to achieve this both as individuals and as a collective. There was a general agreement that we back Tim Huzar for what ever position he chooses to nominate himself for. Again the general agreement was that we should support Tim as an individual, and not just a “spokesperson” for the Brighton University Stop The Cuts group. This way he can make a pitch that appeals to the wider student body and potentially achieve a greater potential. We also explored the possibility of running a ‘slate’ nomination for election that would seek to campaign collectively as a group for multiple positions on the union.

This topic is very high on the agenda for next week as there will only be one more opportunity to decide on this collectively. Tim is going to gather some more information to present at the next meeting so if your interested in this, please come to the next meeting and put your point of view across.

More information is available at : http://www.ubsu.net/suelections

Brighton Source Magazine

Brighton Source Magazine wanted to do an article, on students becoming politicised through the student protests, with some comment from us but unfortunately they went to print before it was raised in the meeting. They did however mention us. It will be in the forthcoming  February  edition of source which you can find here as a PDF http://www.brightonsource.co.uk/.

It is also distributed to various university campuses, including halls of residence.

Brighton and Sussex University Joint Meeting

We decided that we will meet on the 9th of February instead of our usual meeting to discuss our common aims. Most likely it will be held on their campus and details to follow.

Coach Tickets

Brighton UCU have booked a coach for the demo on saturday, tickets are £8.40, available to staff and students.

Get in touch with either (depending on your campus)

Vicky Margree  (Pavilion Parade) – V.Margree@brighton.ac.uk

Patricia McManus (Elsewhere) – P.Mcmanus@brighton.ac.uk

“Con-Dem-Ed” Leaflets

We want to create a flyer that targets student groups in a more holistic sense. We have felt that our previous flyers have focused to much on our own issues and this gives others the impression of self-interest. Whilst it is true that a lot of what people do in general can be attributed to self-interest, we want to engage and inform key groups listed below. This list is not exhaustive but illustrates the groups we need to engage.

  • International students
  • Teaching students
  • Health students
  • Union members
  • General public / apathetic students

UCU Ballot – February

The UCU are balloting for strike action in some time in February and considering the tremendous solidarity and support they have given us we are looking to flyer lecturers and students. We proposed to make a separate leaflet for lecturers to encourage them to ballot for action and one for students to encourage them to support their action. A pamphlet was also suggested. More details to follow.

It is imperative that we show them our support.

WANTED: Articles, Testimonies and Creative Expression

Brighton Students Against Cuts, are looking for people to share, collaborate and contribute articles, essays and personal accounts of both the occupation and student demonstrations. We would also welcome any footage, media projects and art projects that have been inspired by the re-awakening of student activism.

Whilst a lot of information contributed towards the Facebook group, more specifically the links, is good, it can becoming difficult for people to find those opinions, photos and articles. Even with the benefits that social networking provides in the form of dynamic news feeds it often becomes cluttered and un-organised. This has its place but it is felt that something more coherent and less erratic needs to occur. It has been suggested that those who wish to share their views in a more academic and creative way, have a place to express themselves.

If you would like to write an article specifically for this blog or you have anything that you may have posted on personal blogs or otherwise that you would like to share then we welcome your participation. We are really looking to keep the intellectual momentum going now that the occupation has ended and we could no longer hold public discussions and lectures. The internet is the natural progression in facilitating free, accessible knowledge on the public spending cuts and the ideological shifts they represent in politics.

Email: brightonagainstcuts@gmail.com

Below is an appeal by members of the UCU for testimonies from people who attended the student demonstrations in Brighton.

STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS IN BRIGHTON: WEDNESDAY 24TH AND TUESDAY 30TH NOVEMBER: WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?

Members of the university lecturers’ union, the University College Union (UCU) have supported students’ protests against raising university fees. Some of you may have seen our pink banner on your demonstrations. We are concerned that young people were not treated appropriately, especially by the police, and would like to use our skills as researchers based at the Universities of Brighton and Sussex to build up an accurate picture of young people’s experiences on Wednesday 24th and Tuesday 30th November.

If you attended either demonstration, or both, we would like to invite you write down anything you think is important about your day. Just use your own words to express what happened to you on Wednesday 24th or Tuesday 30th: what you saw, what you heard, how you felt. If you can remember times and places, that is helpful but not essential.

We do not need know your names. We realise that students on the 24th and 30th November were filmed by the police or asked to give their names but did not wish to be recorded in this way. We would never publish or pass on names of children or adults without consent under any circumstances. It is simply not ethical to do so. Your age and whether you attend school, college or university will be useful for us as we try to understand the experience of different groups of students but that is all we need.

Please send your writing to Louise or Lucy at the addresses below.

Louise Purbrick
l.purbrick@bton.ac.uk

Lucy Robinson
l.robinson@sussex.ac.uk

Occupation donates to local young homeless day center

Thank you for all the donations of food and drinks over the course of the occupation, without your generous support we wouldn’t have got this far.

When we decided to suspend the occupation, there was still a large cache of food left over. It was decided that the food that was left over should be donated to another charity in an act of solidarity. We chose to donate the food to The Clock Tower Sanctuary, which is a independent day centre for young homeless people in Brighton and Hove. As an ex-service user and former rough sleeper in Brighton i have a great fondness for the day centre because it provided me with a base to overcome my issues. For me personally, I feel that I would not have been able to do this degree if it was not for the support of the staff, volunteers and fund-raisers at The Clock Tower Sanctuary. Aside from my personal connection with The Clock Tower Sanctuary, I have other friends who have used the facilities and gone onto university or other vocational courses.

Please check out their website for more info on what they do and how you can help them too.

http://theclocktowersanctuary.org.uk/

Education doesn’t always happen in the class room, it occurs throughout every facet of our lives and that highlights our need to support people from all kinds of backgrounds and circumstances. The Clock Tower Sanctuary offers sign posting and more importantly, practical advice from people who have been in similar situations. It is a space to learn how to overcome homelessness and provides the most basic things requirements of society, food, shelter and good company. The homeless youth should not be denied the opportunity to go into further and higher education. With the abolition of Education Maintenance Allowance, the young, homeless and unemployed youth will have very little opportunity to educate themselves. This problem deepens when you consider that being a full-time student can make you ineligible for lots of benefits. As a final blow the maximum fee price of £9k would mean that certain degrees might not be economically viable. We must support those in society who don’t have the freedom or opportunity to express themselves effectively.

Suspension of Occupation Press Release

Press Release

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

For more information please contact:

Email: brightonagainstcuts@gmail.com
Blog: brightonresistance.wordpress.com
Twitter: brightonnocuts
Facebook: Brighton University Stop the Cuts

Brighton Women Against the Cuts Meeting

The extent of the public spending cuts will have a devastating effect on women. The student protests across the country, and the Brighton student occupations have set a great precedence and are an inspiration – it is our turn to mobilise and show our resistance to these horrifying cuts. Women Against the Cuts is a national movement and the Brighton group is planning to meet to discuss their agenda and to attend the Brighton General Assembly Meeting.

For more information about the Women Against the Cuts please have a look at their blog.  http://womenagainstthecuts.wordpress.com/
Brighton Women Against The Cuts are meeting to discuss our resistance against the Con-Dem budget, and plans for a demonstration of Brighton feminists.

At 6pm people will meet at the Marwood Cafe, Ship Street.

At 7pm we will move to the Friends Meeting House also on Ship Street to join the Brighton General Assembly meeting called by the NUS and Sussex Against the Cuts.

For more infomation check out their blog

Brighton Women

Banner Making 5pm Pavilion Parade

Today at 5pm we will be making banners and placards to take up to the forthcoming demonstration in London. Please come along and get creative, share our ideas and help each other out.

Find us at:

University of Brighton, Pavilion Parade, Brighton (Opposite the Pavilion Gardens in-between the start of St James Street and Edward Street)

Whilst there will be a selection of materials on hand to create some banners and placards here is a suggested list of materials we might need.

  • Wood for banner polls and placards
  • Dust sheets
  • Duct tape
  • Staple gun/stapler
  • Paints
  • Fabrics
  • String
  • Plastic / strong card
  • Cleaning materials to remove paint

Let’s make the 9th of December a day to remember for both the students against the cuts and for the pathetic coalition Con-Dem of shame.

Much love and solidarity from us all!

Fund-raising and How To Help

Day X – 9th December – London

We desperately need to fund raise for our forthcoming day of action in London on the 9th of December. We are looking to subsidise the cost of travelling up to London so that we can encourage wider participation. Unfortunately the student unions are giving us no love for this demonstration because they have decided to support local action on the 8th of December instead.

How You Can Help

We need people to show their support for us in any way you can. We are looking for people from all walks of life, political alignment and background to get involved with us. During the day there are lectures and discussion on some of the underlying issues surrounding the philosophy of these cuts and what they mean. There are also talks given about the historical context of what we are doing and how to relate our struggle to the struggles of others in the country. We want people to have an informed opinion about the cuts that’s free from shackles of the mainstream media. Below I will list some things that we are in constant need for:

  • Food
  • Petition Signatures
  • Wider participation
  • Journalism and news coverage
  • Financial contributions towards material costs
  • Union support

Finally I will list some ideas of other things you could do to help us

  • Talk to people as many people as possible to mention what is going on. Some people who might be unaware might be sympathetic
  • Volunteer to flyer
  • Repost links
  • Tweet about us

Reinvigorated Solidarity

After yesterdays fantastic speech by Gary Hassel from the RMT and the emergency meeting that was called we have been reinvigorated. Gary Hassel’s speech was spoken from the heart and was very touching. His no-nonsense and pragmatic approach highlighted some of the issues of trade unionism. He complimented us for achieving in 3 days what a official union could only hope to achieve in 3 months. Both the occupation and Gary extended the hand of friendship and united in solidarity.

Very rightly the unions believe that our struggle is only the tip of the iceberg and the Con-Dem government is praying on the apathy of the public to only see what lies on the surface. Alongside their over-confidence in apathy, the current government is attempting to use the age-old tactic of ‘divide and conquer’. Those who have lived through the Thatcher era have the capacity to see past the smoke and mirrors being explored by the current coalition. They have not, however, acknowledge the power of the democratic youth and their ability to organise and mobilise themselves against such tactics. David Cameron with his first class degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) seems not to have learnt from the lessons of history. It would seem that Cameron must have been asleep during his philosophy lectures and wide-eyed with greed during his economics lectures.

After the raw emotion from Gary Hassel we entered into a heated but very necessary dialectic on the future of the occupation. We needed to challenge the very notion of being here and reassess the effectiveness of using the occupation as a tactic to meet our goals. The debate stimulated our minds and further united us in solidarity in our common struggle. After our affirmations, we entered a phase of reorganisation and began anew.

It was very clear that our focus should be in spreading awareness of the Day X demonstration in London on the 9th of December and getting as much attendance as possible. We will start flyering and liaising with local businesses and charities.

Also in the works is a redesign and thematic consolidation of our internet presence. So far the YouTube channel has been reworked to include the stop the cuts logo and has been recoloured purple to represent our university colours. In the works is a redesign of the blog layout and theme, a comprehensive photo stream and a unification of the various social media streams.

Also we decided that we would continue the occupation for those who either were forced to leave or decided to reassess the effectiveness of their occupations. If any students from those occupations would like to join us, they are more than welcome!

For those who are facing huge legal costs that have resulted from their evictions, we are doing our best to fund-raise to make a donation of solidarity. We will stand united, after all this is our revolution!

Stay tuned for more announcements!

Much love and solidarity from the occupation and stop the cuts movement!

Solidarity message in the snow from Brighton occupation