In Occupation, this post is updated live

We have occupied the abandoned former gatehouse of the North Gate of the University of Birmingham. We have done this because despite the university and government taking increasingly regressive measures to make universities inaccessible, we are determined to keep the gates open. Our aim is to advance a set of demands centred on justice in education and educational institutions. We want people to be treated as human beings and the university to be run for public good, not as a business.

We have taken this space as a “free space” on campus, from which we seek to educate ourselves, and all who come into the occupation, to build a stronger movement. We are determined to stay as long we can, we implore the university not to resort to force to remove us as they did last January.

Over the course of the occupation, there will be talks from academics, university workers and students, about cuts, fees and privatisation. You are all invited to come down, join in, and use this space to work, study and put on your own events.

This is the second occupation we have done this term, if you want to get an idea about out what we are about you can see our last occupation on November 2nd here.

23/11/2011

Update 1.33  The university have been pressuring us to leave with senior mangers demanding, students make an immediate exit. We  have refused and intend to stay.

Update 1.59 The university called the police and asked them to break into our occupation and remove us. The police officer on the scene refused saying it would be “disproportionate” to do so. While we thank the police for being reasonable we don’t believe the university’s approach is constructive. The police have now left.

Update 3.05 All quiet at the occupation just going to sleep for the night.

Update 3.10This is where you can find us, come visit we are a friendly bunch :)

Come down and visit the University of Birmingham Occupation, we can be found here at the north gate.

Update 3.20

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=169606899801087 The rally tomorrow by the Clocktower will march to the University of Birmingham occupation; once the rally and occupation link up we will debate our goals and demands to give to the university.

Update 7.23

Good morning all, hope you had a good night sleep. Special thanks to the three people who just sent the night outside the occupation being the liaison for security.

Update 9.55
We have access in and out of the building, come down and join in.
Update 10.09
Why are we in occupation, introductory meeting called for the start of the occupation.
Update 11.14
The University of Birmingham are refusing entry in and out of the occupation denying the students access to food and water in an effort to force them out. Call +44 (0)121 414 3344 and ask for Stuart Richards, Brendan Casey or David Eastwood to ask them to facilitate peaceful protest.
Update 11.51
We have just sent the below notice to the university who are blocking access to the occupation.

Dear Lee Sanders, Stuart Richards, Carolyn Pike

RE: Legal notice

We have been informed that the University of Birmingham has blocked all accesses to the North Gate House. This is a legal offence as we have secured our squatting rights to reside in this building. Indeed, if any residents become ill due to your negligence in restraining access to food, water, legal advice and other supplies you will be considered liable. Furthermore, such practice constitutes “false imprisonment” and is indeed another infringement on our rights.

We therefore demand that you remove all obstructions immediately.

Yours,

The residents, 1 North Gate House (R), B15 2TT, Birmingham

Update 13:49

A crowd of students and staff have just managed to get through the blockade and have delivered us fresh supplies. Photos soon. Thanks for the solidarity.

Update 14.02

The University of Birmingham Guild of Students, in defiance of the university, has just delivered us food. Thanks guys.

Update 16.34

We have agreed this statement of international solidarity.

We offer solidarity with students, teachers, pupils, parents and education workers who have been fighting the privatisation and marketisation of education; who are fighting for free and emancipatory education. We are with all who are fighting the so called “Bologna-Process;” which is cutting the quality of education all across Europe and robbing Europe’s youth of a decent education.

While we take action to build local pressure to change our individual institutions and governments, we must always be aware of the global and structural nature of our problems and learn from each other’s tactics, experiences in organizing, and theoretical knowledge. Short-term changes may be achieved on the local level, but great change will only happen if we unite globally.

We are inspired by the students and workers who have lead the struggle against tyranny in the Arab world; who are giving their blood to overthrow the military dictatorship in Egypt right now. The struggles of Greek workers and Chilean students are examples we should seek to emulate.

We back the work of the international students movement which is uniting struggles worldwide and we back the joint international statement.

Update 18:06: In an amazing act of solidarity the Guild of Students have just given to us 27 freshly-baked pizzas (one for each occupier) hand-delivered by the Guild President himself.

Update 19.34

As the occupation continues into the night, the University of Birmingham Guild of Students has now released this statement of support.

update 22.44

new statement in reply to the University of Birmingham

http://brumoccupation.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/response-to-the-university-of-birmingham-with-regards-to-our-occupation-reinventing-our-university/

Update 23:30 

A student has just been assaulted. They were punched three times through a open window by a university security guard who seemed to be attempting to force entry into the building. Police called and are now on site.

Update 23:40

The solidarity occupiers on the street outside have been threatened with arrest by university security for ‘breach of the peace’ and have moved down the road. Police have left after we gave witness statements to the above assault.

24/11/2011

Update 00:03 

University security behaving very childishly and vindictively. They’re now preventing us from sleeping by constantly ringing the door bell, banging on the windows and laughing despite being told to leave us alone.
Update 00:09
Uni security surrounding the building with cameras and torches trying to record us through the curtains. Still ringing the door bell every few minutes apparently trying to get us to go to the door so they can film us.
Update 00:21
Uni security still ringing the doorbell constantly and laughing… It’s like they’ve just discovered this hilariously original prank.
Update: 00:36

University security attempting to force entry again. Have forced a window open (damaging the window frame in the process) and trying to get through the window.

Update 00:58

Stand-off between university and students. Police officer on the scene has refused to stop the attempts to break into the building as he says we are ‘illegal occupiers’ and refused to give his ID number when asked.

Update 01:15

Sorry for the lack of updates, very difficult situation at the moment. Security are continuing to surround the building banging on doors and windows however seem to have given up trying to break through the window for now after we re-secured it. A large group of supporters has gathered outside the building now which seems to have put security off continuing to attack us. We thank them all very much for their support.

Update 01:21: We have now discovered that the ‘police officer’ we talked to earlier was actually university private security impersonating a police officer and the police were never actually there.

Update 01:36:

We believe the university private security man who took part in the first assault (punching an occupier three times in the face through an open window while trying to force his way through) has been taken by the police for questioning. We seem to be in something of a ceasefire now that there are too many people outside the occupation with cameras for the security to continue their completely illegal attacks. Crowd outside are singing for us, the solidarity is wonderful :)

Update 02:08

Due to security backing off to deal with the new protest outside we managed to fix the damaged window and have now re-locked it. People power works.

Update 11.18

Student supporters of occupation to discuss what next for the occupation? 

They are meeting at 5pm today at the Muirhead Tower.

“Right everyone, so a few of us decided that we should perhaps all get together for a little bit and discuss what to do next, in terms of solidarity and creating a more visual and dynamic presence, what other things can we do outside the occupation other than just voice our solidarity with the occupiers inside?

Some people have cooked up a few ideas already, but if you have your own then make sure you can come to this today! It’ll only be half an hour.”

Update 11.36

We have just received this solidarity message from Birmingham against the cuts, which alliance of grassroots campaign groups and trade unions from all across Birmingham.

Update 11.53

We have received this statement of support from the national campaign against fees and cuts http://anticuts.com/2011/11/24/statement-on-university-of-birmingham-occupation/

Update 13.03 

BBC West Midlands have arrived with camera crews outside the occupation.

Update 16.08

The university are trying to get a High Court hearing late notice in two hours time to get an interim possession order against us to force us out of the premises.

Update 18.03

we have received this letter of solidarity from university of birmingham students

To the occupiers,

We are sorry to see the way the university has reacted to your peaceful occupation; we are ashamed of our university’s actions. On a day when over 10 universities all across the country went into occupation it was only the University of Birmingham that decided it would crack down on peaceful protest. The attack on the occupation last night and the blockade that they have enforced on you is entirely disproportionate. Especially considering that your occupation, even according to the university, has not been disruptive.

We believe, like you, that people should be treated as human beings and the university should be run for the public good, not as a business. The cuts to pay and pensions of support staff already on poverty pay is morally abhorrent, especially while high paid university mangers take pay rises of as much as 11%.  We stand with you in your opposition to the cuts to staff pensions, which are the main cause of the strike on November 30th; we also want to offer solidarity to staff unions. We like you, think it is important we support the strike on November 30th because if we want to retain the brightest and best academics in the UK as our teachers, then we must give our lecturers fair pensions. We would like to point to the university that the Guild of Students itself fully supports the strike on November 30th, this is clearly not the belief of a minority.

The university seeks to portray you as a minority opinion on campus. This is not true: we are elected representatives from all across campus and we support you wholeheartedly.  We would be in occupation with you if it were not for the blockade the university has put on the occupation and for fear of the threat of disciplinary actions that university is using to smother dissent.

Stay strong if the university take action against you, we will be there to defend you.

Solidarity

Edward Bauer – VP Education

Kelly Rodgers – Women’s Officer Guild of Students

Leander Jones – Community Action Officer Guild of Students

Ben Aylott – Chair Postgraduate and Mature Students Associaton, University Senator

Susanne Kluber – Chair International Students Associaton, Guild Councillor

Daniel Harrison, Chair, Birmingham Labour Students, Guild Councillor

Mma Yeebo-Agoe – Ethnic Minorities Guild Councilor

Alice Swift – Chair of People & Planet, Campaigning & Political Mini-Forum Guild Councillor and Ethical & Environmental Committee member.

Sean Farmelo – Philosophy, Theology and Religion Guild Councilor and Ethical and Environmental Committee member.

Bryn Gough – Political Science Guild Councillor

Nazakit Mohammed- Civil Eng Guild Councillor

Carmern Castrillon – Arts, Cultures and Langauges Guild Councillor

Yusri Hamidi- Computer Eng Guild Councillor

Antoine Vallatos – Chemistry Guild Councillor

Anwar Sattar- Post Graduate Guild Councillor

Usamah Khalid- Open Place Guild Councillor

Zain Ali- Open Place Guild Councillor

Muneeb Akhtar- Chem Eng Guild Councillor

Sam Weaver, Biosciences Student Representative

Sivan Lavie Oxfam Co-chair

Rosie Pinsent Chair of Art Soc

Sebastian Egerton-Read – Secretary Student Broad Left

Laura Hamilton, Geology Student Representative & Lapsoc Vice President

Amanda Moorghen, Philsophy SH Student Representative

Update 18.33

We have received this message of solidarity from occupy Birmingham, who are camped in the centre of town.
“We, the occupiers of Birmingham, are disturbed to see the way the university has reacted to your peaceful occupation. The University of Birmingham has, alone, reacted with aggression and has sought to harass those of it’s students that have offered their solidarity to trades unionists and occupiers. 
We believe, like you, that the University is an academic community of staff and students. Central to this concept is the ability of all its members freely to challenge prevailing orthodoxies, query the positions and views of others and to put forward ideas that may sometimes be radical in their formulation.We support the students, academic and other staff members that are proud to defend the right for education to be available to all, that seek to defend UK education from the cuts to its teaching and research base, to defend the terms and conditions of its staff. To these ends we support the peaceful actions of the occupiers and offer solidarity with the members of staff unions actions in withdrawing their labour on November 30th. Regards,Occupy Birmingham”Update 18:40Occupation being covered on the BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-15861769

Update 18:42 

We have been informed that the university are seeking a interim procession order, we are told that if this is granted it will be a criminal offence to stay beyond 24 hours after it has been granted.

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62 Comments

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62 responses to “In Occupation, this post is updated live

  1. Pingback: LIVE BLOG of the November 23rd Day of Action — National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

  2. Solidarity from Glasgow Uni! Squatting abandoned uni buildings is the way forward!

  3. Birmingham Student

    Really impressed you managed to pull this off, I thought with the truly awful way that the University of Birmingham treats its students nothing would be possible.

  4. Bham Student

    Amazing! Hopefully the violent and thuggish security guards and their puppet masters (the management) will have a harder time getting you out!

  5. Solidarity from Warwick! Keep up the great work.

  6. TRAP

    https://www.facebook.com/TRAPTheRealArtofProtest

    Solidarity – we have posted your link to our 30,000 subscribers on our facebook page. Hope other uni’s across the country follow your lead.

  7. The Right Wing survives by keeping people stupid. You are doing the best thing to demand the best education that can be had for the least money.You will be of value to the world. Solidarity

  8. Anonyme

    Solidarity from all at Cambridge Defend Education!

  9. Awesome! Sending you solidarity and if you are all there by Thursday I’m paying a visit, take care of my friend who is helping occupy ;)

  10. Birmingham Alumni

    Amazing – the first over-night occupation in Birmingham!! Evicting you now would look ridiculous on the University after even the police called it disproportionate – finally a free space for students on campus, well done and solidarity!!

  11. bilus

    I lived there for a month this summer – it was okay but the take-away delivery takes time, as nobody can find the place!

    Good luck guys :-)

  12. Birmingham University UCU Committee

    On behalf of the University of Birmingham branch of the University and College Union, we would like to send our solidarity to the students taking non-violent action at the University of Birmingham.

    Our higher education system is under a sustained attack that will turn the clock back on generations of social progress, democratic advance and educational achievement. Your action is an inspiration to staff and students seeking to oppose these vicious attacks.

    We urge the University to refrain from taking any disciplinary measures against any students involved in such non-violent and peaceful actions.

    Birmingham UCU Committee

  13. Pingback: Englische Studenten besetzen die Universitäten als Protest gegen Studiengebühren von 9000 Pfund – als Auftakt zum landesweiten Streiktag in Großbriannien in der nächsten Woche: Organisiert der DGB/Verdi und deutsche Studenten gewerkschaftliche S

  14. Simon Thorpe

    Solidarity!!!

  15. Pingback: Englische Studenten besetzen die Universitäten als Protest gegen Studiengebühren von 9000 Pfund – als Auftakt zum landesweiten Streiktag in Großbritannien in der nächsten Woche: Organisiert der DGB/Verdi und deutsche Studenten gewerkschaftliche

  16. Chaz Lockett

    Solidarity from Socialist Students Society at University of Sheffield! Your linking of struggle with lecturers, support staff and other student groups provides an example to all occupations. Though we ourselves were not able to occupy today, we have much action planned for the coming weeks – expect Sheffield to be lit as a becon against the attacks of the 1%!

    Chaz Lockett (secretary, Socialist Students Society, University of Sheffield)

  17. Orkhe Navenadnik

    solidarity from Warwick, we successfully managed to occupy this afternoon

  18. Pingback: UK: Students begin wave of occupations to back public sector strikes « Kritische Studenten Utrecht

  19. Wolf Pack

    Well done. The Tories are doing no better than the communist swine before them, it is time for the people of the country to take control of our destinies. Hail Victory.

  20. Keith

    Solidarity from Glasgow Caledonian University.
    Good luck for your campaign!

  21. UoE

    Solidarity from a Midlands lad at the University of Essex.
    And remember, support your local Nightline when you can!

  22. khrushchyov

    Solidarity! Extremely impressive work, show that greasy bastard Eastwood where the power really lies!

  23. You guys are fantastic! I used to stroll past that building every day on my way to lectures, and if I were still there I’d be there. If you see what I mean. Anywho, keep up the good work, keep the pressure on these people who would have us believe that education can be sold to the highest bidder, and keep occupying.

  24. Nick

    Nice one guys! Hope this one keeps going. Sorry I couldn’t help out: I’m busy getting myself organised for my first day of work tomorrow, plus I don’t really fancy being strangled by a security guard again.
    Good luck and keep up the great work!

  25. Pingback: LIVE BLOG of the November 23rd Day of Action — National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

  26. Good work all! Solidarity from Coventry University.

  27. Northie

    Good luck with your struggle! From a former B’ham post-grad and current NUT member (on strike next wednesday!!!)

  28. Mo

    Great that you also refer to the global perspective of the struggle and endorse the international joint statement.
    Please also communicate this to activists worldwide by send a mail to the global mailing list of the International Student Movement platform: international_students_movement@lists.riseup.net
    ★ one world – one struggle ★
    in solidarity from marburg ~

  29. hollium

    Wow, if this is the way the UoB treats its student body I won’t be going there next year to study Social Policy…

  30. Jeremy Green

    Solidarity from York University in Toronto, you inspire me!

  31. Solidarity from London Anarchists

  32. Pingback: Birmingham University OCCUPIED! « Protest-Net

  33. greetings from an alumnus (BSc Geography, 1999), with best wishes and solidarity from Occupy Leeds and The Really Open University, which arose out of the Leeds Uni occupation last year.

  34. sean

    Thank you for doing this people. It really is being noticed across the country and by our senior management. The assault of a UoB student will not go unnoticed.

  35. Pingback: Students begin wave of occupations to back public sector strikes | News World Digest

  36. Anonymous

    Get some sleep! Can’t you disconnect the bell?

  37. Pingback: Students begin wave of occupations to back public sector strikes | News Flash

  38. darren jorgensen

    Solidarity from Australia. You protest the cuts and increasing fees in your own country, but are protesting a much larger shift to the right where university education is concerned. We have learned here that when they pull off changes in the UK, they happen soon after in Australia, so are watching your situation very closely. Keep up the fantastic work on our behalf, we are with you here on the other side of the world
    Darren Jorgensen, art history lecturer, University of West Australia

  39. Pingback: Students begin wave of occupations to back public sector strikes | Indiacitys.com

  40. Gill

    As a former lecturer of that damned place, I’m in full support of your actions. The managers there are nothing short of louts and bullies: look at the way they treat their staff, let alone their students.

  41. I wish you the best you wonderful Birmingham people, stay safe, Fight the power, stand for your rights. COVENTRY UNIVERSITY SUPPORTS YOU!!!!!
    viva la revolution!!!!

  42. Anonymous

    Fight the fight. Sincerely hoping that security are told to knob off and we can come and see you / make use of the space too.

    Love and rage.

  43. Emily Grabham

    Good luck to the Birmingham occupation!

  44. Alice

    Solidarity! Well done everyone, you are doing a marvellous thing. Can you turn the doorbell off somehow if security are still being so pathetic? And if they were impersonating a police officer, this can be illegal. Staff and students are all sick of the University and its shameful bullying – well done for standing up to them! The University should be ashamed of what it has become, ashamed!

  45. Frankfurt kid

    Keep it up! Your voices must be heard.
    Love and solidarity from Germany

  46. Pingback: Students begin wave of occupations to back public sector strikes | Demand a referendum on the EU-IMF deal

  47. Bird

    Keep going guys!

  48. Inspiring!
    Love, Peace and Justice,
    Anish

  49. JimMD

    Solidarity from Loughborough Uni, Good work! Let’s see if the idea will catch on elsewhere, eh?

    • Nick

      (Remember to take any negative comments with a pinch of salt: Reddit can have a hell of a lot of trolls and generally ignorant people sometimes)

  50. rupert

    solidarity from moscow! i’m following this with excitement, and i hope many good things come from your collective bold and brave act of occupation. i’m also very encouraged by the positive attitude of the guild and mark harrop, makes a change! the vindictive, violent and unprofessional behaviour by uni security stands in stark contrast, but i expected no less. impersonating a police officer is very illegal, no? keep up the great work anyway, you’re an inspiration to us all!

  51. Chris.

    As a fellow student who has to bear the burden of heavy tuition fees, a bleak graduate jobs market and rising accommodation costs I say to you in solidarity: what you are doing is a puerile and silly waste of time. Operation #occupytheoldbikesheds or whatever it may be simply replaces reasonable dialogue with a new exciting option of breaking into private property and feeling aggrieved about being asked to leave. Education for all? Absolutely, I’m with you all the way on that respect, the provision of educating our country’s youth to the highest possible standard at minimum cost is one of the highest priorities our country faces. University education subsidised to extreme levels when the only career-enhancing decisions your average BA/BSc is faced with is whether that last order was a cappuccino or a latte? Not my cup of tea. Degrees SHOULD be hard, they SHOULD gain you a foothold in competitive job markets, and £7,500 per year to pay for tuition, grading, computing facilities access, libraries, printing, cleaners, campus security staff, events, ad infinitum is really not very much money at all. If you don’t earn enough to pay it back, you simply won’t; so what’s more unfair, expensive courses, or expecting taxpayers to pay for the entire education of someone who thought it would be a laugh to do a BSc in Easy Studies, coast through it, get a job in McCompany and never ever pay off their debts to the SLC? Shocking.

    • ex brum

      Hear hear. Except I think the person who works for McCompany all their life shouldn’t have to pay. And guess what? They don’t.

    • B'ham student 2

      At last, somebody on this blog who talks some sense!!!!!

      Why should taxpayers, who in many cases have never been to University for whatever reason, have to fork out to pay for someone to doss about at uni and come out with some meaninless degree that will never benefit themselves or the public

      And all this ocupation and solidarity is a load of nonsense, all you doing is annoying the very people you need to forge a working relationship with so you can actually meet them and discuss things, they may not listen but this will not get you anyway.

      I also enjoy how insanely biased this blog is and how your letter of “solidarity” from students comes from the suspended VP Education and a load of other people from the Guild. Where is the support from the thousands of students who do not know any of you? Maybe they don’t care…

  52. Tassle

    Don’t forget the defensive power that a large number of people can impart. If the University move to evict you, call for a wider protest at a specific place and time. Its clear that you have an significant number of supporters at other universities and amongst the general public nationwide. I’m sure those of us who are physically able would come and offer whatever assistance you request and demonstrate that we all stand united.

    Stay resolved. Stay strong. Record everything.
    Know that you are respected and supported!

  53. Keep up the good fight comrades! (From a worker in Wolverhampton)

  54. ex brum

    The university’s actions are breathtakingly stupid. However…

    I personally have no problem with paying for the valuable and tangible benefit of my university education when/ if I earn above 21 k per annum. I’d rather the extra funds I would free up in general taxation revenues be used for improving primary and secondary education.

  55. Pingback: Disciplined by Birmingham University because I was assaulted… | Bright Green

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