Statement from within the Occupation

Posted: November 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

We are occupying the Arts Centre Conference Room in protest against the cuts to higher education and tuition fees rises proposed by the Government in response to the Browne Review. While we occupy this space we are creating a space of truly free and democratic education where we will run workshops, talks and other educational events — education that has nothing to do with profit and the market and everything to do with learning and sharing together.  We are not intellectual capital! We reject the marketisation of our education system and the transfer of the cost of a public service onto students, University staff and employees.

Our demands to the University of Warwick are as follows:

– The University of Warwick is to condemn the government’s plans for the restructuring of higher education; this includes but is not limited to:

  • the recommendations of the Browne Review and the  Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review
  • the raising of tuition fees
  • the removal of public financial support for Arts and Social Sciences.

 

– That the Vice Chancellor should use his position within the Russell Group to oppose the cuts.

– For the University to allow people to freely enter or leave the Arts Centre Conference Room for the duration of the occupation so that we may continue to peacefully protest and have access to sanitation, food and water.

– A clarification of the security team’s position regarding their presence and our access to and from the building.

– The University to provide transparency of university finances: this includes current and future budgets, with specific references to domestic and international tuition fees and departmental spending.

– Individual University departments to have the right to protest against the cuts.

– No victimisation or punishment of any kind for students and staff who have protested, are protesting and will protest.

– The Vice Chancellor (or most senior authority currently on campus) to meet with us and discuss our demands in person.

We consider these demands to be fair and reasonable, and would appreciate a quick response.

Signed,

Students of the University of Warwick

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Comments
  1. Christoff says:

    Stay long and stay strong…afraid i cannot leave my proper name…but you have my support.

  2. Pointless Protest says:

    I believe that you 70 actually represent a small minority of the students at Warwick and should give up and get on with your studies that you are paying for.

    Why should the government fund studies that have little benefit to society (Arts and Social Studies).

    • Carl says:

      Are you serious? You think people with arts and social sciences degrees have no positive effect on society?

    • A. Button says:

      I’m also with Pointless here.

      The following is (really) a true story. I was sitting by the sofas on the 1st floor of the library by the newspapers. Then I overheard the following from a guy behind me: “Oh ****. I’m gonna graduate next year with a degree in creative writing. I’m screwed.”

      That, to me, illustrates what’s wrong with tuition fees capped at £3000(ish). Too many morons doing too useless degrees that has no value added to themselves or society. Don’t get me wrong here. We sure need our JK Rowlings and Dan Browns of this world. But I suspect the JK Rowlings and Dan Browns of this world don’t need a degree in creative writing to write great books. If you really want to do creative writing, and you’re paying for it yourself, then why the hell not. It’s your own money. But wasting government money, I don’t think so.

      People who actually do useful degrees will still be supported by the government by the student loans, which they will eventually pay back over the years. It’s just intertemporal substitution, making sure the talented and able can achieve what they want (as long they sort out the SLC anyway). The plan also disincentives universities from charging too-high fees, as higher and higher fees attract greater taxes. Admittedly, it’s not flawless. History teachers need history degrees still. Maybe the government needs to subsidise people who want to do degrees like this, but have a positive contribution to society. And at least bond them for a few years of teaching.

      To finish my rant, this website mentioned that Warwick is in the Russell group and that education should not be exposed to market forces. Pop over to the other side of the pond, and look at the Ivy League. They charge $50k (£30k) a year – now that’s market forces. Good public universities (Berkeley, U Mich et al) charge around $20k. They have far superior universities, and mostly because of better funding. No one’s ever complained that they charge that much. Now surely £9000 looks like damn good value for money?

      • Carl says:

        So given that you agree with Pointless, your argument is as follows: creative writing is a useless degree, therefore arts and humanities contribute nothing to society.

        Perhaps you should have taken an elementary logic course during your time at university. Incidentally, they are offered by all good philosophy departments, which — shock horror! — offer humanities degrees.

    • A. Button says:

      Actually, no. I explicitly said two things.

      One, that I used the creative writing guy to “illustrate” my point that quite a lot (but may I say, not all) arts and humanities have very little value added to them, and that some people doing them only just realise that as they enter the job market – after wasting much government money.

      The more important point that I made with the history teachers is also it’s not just the degree itself, but HOW you use that. An engineering degree when you end up flipping burgers after you graduate is pretty damn useless. On the other

    • A. Button says:

      Actually, no. I explicitly said two things.

      One, that I used the creative writing guy to “illustrate” my point that quite a lot (but may I say, not all) arts and humanities have very little value added to them, and that some people doing them only just realise that as they enter the job market – after wasting much government money.

      The more important point that I made with the history teachers is also it’s not just the degree itself, but HOW you use that. An engineering degree when you end up flipping burgers after you graduate is pretty damn useless. On the other hand, as I said, a history degree when you teach afterwards is still very useful to society. And thus why I said the government still needs to support this group of people because financially, while the sciencey degrees can pay off easily, many of the humanities can’t.

      Perhaps it is you that need to take the Logic course at the Philosophy dept so you can make a better case than an ad honinem argument.

  3. nicola says:

    You are doing a brave thing. Stay strong.

  4. mia says:

    keep it up!

  5. Enjoying my education premium says:

    I have an Economics lecture in ACCR tomorrow. Please leave so I can enjoy the benefits of a university education. Thanks.

    • Hi Enjoying,

      We’re sorry you feel negatively impacted upon by the occupation. Even so we feel compelled to observe that (a) the university will simply move your lecture to another room if they feel unable to stage it in the arts centre (b) we’ve sincerely offered to minimise disruption and do whatever we can to facilitate the continuation of learning within the room.

      In fact we twice attempted to arrange lectures with distinguished scholars earlier this afternoon but said academics weren’t allowed access into the room. So we would suggest that our own attempts to enhance “the benefits of a university education” have been thwarted.

      Yours Sincerely,

      Warwick Against the Cuts

  6. joe says:

    Get the chancellor to account for his current policy! Stay where you are, we will join!

  7. Yussef says:

    Don’t give in easily. As soon as I have handed in my essays, if you guys are still there, I will join you!!

  8. LukeE says:

    Absolutely great job on occupying the Arts Centre – it got on national news which can only be a good thing!

    I hope the Vice Chancellor listens to what we have to say.

  9. David Beck says:

    Must admit I’m with pointless protest here- you represent a (very) small minority of our fellow Warwick students and should make that clear in your communications.

    Incidentally the “what the changes mean for you” page contains several factual errors as well as mistaken interpretations- both shameful and embarrassing given that you are attempting to represent Warwick.

    Saying that, though, at least you are encouraging people to talk about the cuts and putting ‘a’ view across. I just hope that your little stunt does not lead to the VC or Warwick taking any positions or actions which would be detrimental to its position in the future.

    • Hi David,

      Please do elaborate upon the “factual errors” and “mistaken interpretation” on the site. How else might we alleviate your shame and embarrassment?

      Furthermore could you explain how you quantify ‘representation’? Do your mean our views are unrepresentative or simply that a minority of the student population are involved in the sit in? If the former then please provide evidence though, of course, the latter is something of a given.

      Yours Sincerely,

      Warwick Against the Cuts

      • David Beck says:

        Factually incorrect: “there is no way of getting out of the 9% interest rate” (the interest rate is not 9%, and the mechanism by which early repayment will be penalised has not been announced)

        Mistaken interpretation: “This is a step back to the social relations of the Victorian era.”

        There are plenty more.

        Given the number of students who turned out for the march earlier, and the general response among those I’ve talked to, I think it’s fair to say that you represent the views of a small minority of students. Of course how “small” cannot be quantified, and I am well aware that there are some who agree with your viewpoint who are not there!

        Signing communications with “students of the university of warwick” (while technically correct) gives the impression you are representing the student body as a whole- which I presume you are not claiming to do?

        In short- I fully support your right to protest and get your view across (though not to make demands). All I ask is that you make it clear that it is YOUR view, rather than OUR view.

      • Hi David,

        We’re happy to respond fully to such criticisms. Could you provide other examples? It might be productive for us to respond at length to reasoned and evidenced criticisms of what we’re arguing. Perhaps in the form of a blog post rather than an ad hoc exchange on the comments page.

        One quick question though: on what basis are you delineating ‘your’ view from ‘our’ view?

        Yours Sincerely,

        Warwick Against the Cuts

      • David Beck says:

        My view is irrelevant, frankly- the point is that there is a whole spectrum of responses to the Browne report among members of the university, of which you represent only a small portion.

        I have no intention of proof-reading your site- suffice it to say there are plenty of factual errors you could correct with reference to the Browne report and Willetts’ statement. The interpretations are partly a matter of opinion so I wouldn’t expect you to correct those- but again, I would ask you to make it clear they are your views, not an objective summary.

      • Razi says:

        If I understand this correctly when you say “9% interest rate” you mean the interest that the debt would have accrued had the payments followed the intended schedule. The 9% is the name you are giving to this interest.
        However the way you have worded it makes its seem as if you are citing a 9% interest rate on the loan which is preposterous. It would be impossible to pay off a debt with 9% interest by paying 9% of your earnings above £21,000 until the earnings greater than the aforementioned threshold exceed the amount of debt. It would simply be growing faster than one would pay it off

  10. TheEngineer says:

    I was one of the students who turned up today after security stopped entry. I am glad that some people continue to show how it is possible to protest the cuts without resorting to violence, and if the university allow freedom of movement (as I hope they will) I plan on joining you in the ACCR.
    Don’t be cowed by the University, don’t be disheartened by the nay-sayers.

    The Engineer

  11. Monika Tippie says:

    Social Studies and the Arts are absolutely vital to the cohesion and social fabric of a community and a nation. As a US citizen I have seen the effect of decay in our society that results from cutting funding for the humanities and arts. It results in a society where the people no longer learn to value civil political dialogue and true social equality. Real “progress” in a society comes from the informed contributions of both scientists, engineers, mathematicians and social scientists looking at how to resolve societal issues. In any endeavor, it is always the social cohesion and relations that determine its success- the people factor. Cutting the importance placed on social studies is a signal of and slippery slope to social decay.

  12. Hi Pointless,

    Could you explain:

    (a) What you take ‘art and social studies’ to be
    (b) How you are quantifying ‘benefit to society’
    (c) On what basis you believe government SHOULD fund studies?

    As it stands it’s difficult for us to answer your question. I imagine that we don’t accept the premise of your question but it’s difficult to know this for sure when you’re speaking in such silly generalities.

    Yours sincerely,

    Warwick Against the Cuts

  13. Alex says:

    Surely occupying University House would be both more troublesome for the university and less irritating for students and academics (neither of whom are responsible for your grievances.)

  14. Alex says:

    I have no evidence, I just have a hunch that preventing lectures from going ahead may be disruptive for students and teaching staff. Thanks for the reply.

  15. Serafini says:

    Alex says:
    November 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm
    I would be proud if my students would voice their opinion and grievance in such a manner

    Well done guys!

  16. Razi says:

    All the debates I have heard in the media have focused on the price rise. While this is of great concern it has caused all of the other far more worrying proposal to fall to the sides. From what you have written it looks like you are emphasising the wider implications and I’d like to thank you because it has been tiring constantly telling people it is about more than just the money.

    Because of this simplification in most of the media the university student protesters somehow seem selfish which is odd considering the price rise does not affect current students.

  17. FormerStudent says:

    Gotta say I agree with Alex – as with the occupation of SO.21 a few years ago it’s a poor target as it seems it’ll largely affect students rather than university administration.

    Admittedly ACCU is slightly better than SO.21 as the Arts Centre lends it some more interest as a media story. Picking SO.21 really was quite a woeful decision. Another time pick a room more used for evening conferences – Panaroma Room or Chancellors Suite would hit the university financially rather than just nuisancing everyone.

  18. Nick says:

    No Mr Cameron and Clegg, students are not crazed vandals hell-bent on destruction, we just have some qualms about using the financial climate as an excuse to slash the welfare state and burden the young for life with debt. If you think this is anything like the protests in France, the medias embelishment by the way, then you are naive.

    We apparently can no longer afford to have a welfare state, have EMAs, or give people a free education but we can bail out banks and other countries.

    I am no longer a Warwick student, but am proud of the stance you are taking and give you my support.

    Good luck

  19. […] SOAS, Plymouth, Royal Holloway, Newcastle, UCL, London South Bank, Birmingham, Oxford, Cardiff, Warwick, Strathclyde, UEL, Dundee, Portsmouth, Leeds, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Roehampton, […]

  20. Shazzblasty says:

    Excellent site – great to see that all of the nonsensical objections are being addressed in such a polite and logical manner Well done all round (and good luck for tomorrow).

  21. Jero says:

    hi, please give an email to which we should send letters of support from Argentina. Thanks!

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