19th February 2008 UWE Occupation Update.
The group showed real dedication to the cause today, a day of hectic campaigning was preceded by a shock from the university security team who issued a threat to call in the police. Fortunately this disruption never came to fruition and I am pleased to say that so far the occupation seems to have formed a decent co-operative relationship with the security.
The campaigning was targeted towards an arranged meeting that evening which included speaker and film-maker Ed Hill, a speaker and delegate from the teachers union (NUT) Dick North and a teacher from the local Filton High School, Tracy Dodds which has recently suspended national curriculum for two days in order to educate its pupils on the plight of the Palestinian people and the ongoing conflict in Gaza.
We distributed over a thousand leaflets, placed 500 posters and placed banners in and around the two main campuses of the University, St Mathias & Frenchay, for the meeting. As well as this we had two stalls in operation at the two different campuses. Consequently this led to a major stirring within the university and led to a good level of optimism about the attendance at the meeting.
This has led to a renewed sense of solidarity amongst the students at UWE. Suddenly years of sustained apathy has given to a real sense that actual change can be brought about by student action.
The attendance of the meeting was approaching 80 at times, which for this university was astounding for many of the long time campaigners which have only experienced extremely poor turn outs in the past. After the speeches we opened up the floor to debate about the issue and questions to the panel, this was extremely productive and showed off the varied political spectrum involved with the occupation and solidarity campaign. This then led to a caucus in which we reaffirmed the overwhelming support from the students for the occupation.
We are now pleased to announce that along with recruiting new members from the meeting, we have taken over the lecture theatre in which the meeting was held, a major theatre in the university infrastructure. We as students will stay here and refuse to vacate this lecture theatre until our demands are met. We will continue with our policy of causing no disruption to education at any time, and will politely ask the lecturers for two minutes at the start of each lecture to explain our cause.
Throughout tonight we will be showing various educational films/documentaries on the Palestinian and reaffirming our solidarity within and far more importantly with the people of Gaza & the West Bank.