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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
The residents, 1 North Gate House (R), B15 2TT, Birmingham
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.
The University of Birmingham Guild of Students, in defiance of the university, has just delivered us food. Thanks guys.
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.
As the occupation continues into the night, the University of Birmingham Guild of Students has now released this statement of support.
new statement in reply to the University of Birmingham
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.”
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.
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/
BBC West Midlands have arrived with camera crews outside the occupation.
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.
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.
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
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.