Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas Newsletter

Hi everyone!

I hope that this message will all find you happy, healthy and inspired. I took the initiative to put together this newsletter following a number of discussions with some of you and since it seems that we won't have any opportunity to have any substantial meeting before January. There are a few really important topics in this newsletter so please take a bit of your time to have a look at it and follow-up if you can! Thanks :) 'Pedro'



Since we took off without having the possibility to have a comprehensive discussion and a debriefing, in order to have some basic feedback, enable a crude evaluation and foster mutual learning, I would like to invite all of you to take a few minutes to email your answers to the following questions:
* What were the greatest things you experienced related to the occupation/camp for education/protests/actions?
* What were the key strengths and/or successes of UWE's camp for education?
* What were the key weaknesses and/or mistakes of UWE's camp for education?
* What idea(s) would you like to make happen next year?
Please try to be concise and answer each question in a few sentences (one sentence per strength, success, weakness, etc.). If you have more to share, consider writing a text (see the call below). All answers will be gathered in a document that will then be shared to the group of people interested to do an evaluation.

Email: and please add FEEDBACK in the subject :)

There is a wonderful idea to organise a day or a week-end dedicated to debriefing and to discussions about our next steps. If you are interested to help make that happen, please also send an email and add DEBRIEFING in the subject :)


A lot has happened over the past few weeks and it might be a good idea to use the break to reflect individually and discuss with our friends about what happened. One thing that would bring this to an entirely different level would be to share our observations, thoughts, analyses and ideas in writing. Not only that would be a fantastic memory of our achievements but it would also allow a deeper and more comprehensive evaluation.

Whether you were part of the group of 'hardcore' activists who held the space most of the time, you only came to the camp a couple of times or you attended a single protest, whether you were thrilled by everything that happened or you have a more nuanced evaluation of the occupation, your views and thoughts would help all of us to build mutual understanding, to do a much better evaluation, to learn and to make it even bigger and better next time.

Anything you would like to share would be appreciated and useful: descriptions of extraordinary (good or/and bad) experiences, observations about our strengths and weaknesses or successes and failures, comparisons with other occupations, full-blown analyses or theoretical essays ... or anything else you can think about!

If we have a sufficient number of contributions, one idea would be to collect all these texts and edit them into a small booklet or a book.

1/ If you want to be part of the working group that will edit and produce this booklet send an email!
2/ If you intend to write something, let us know before the 31st of December.
3/ The deadline for the full texts is the 9th of January.

Email: and please add WRITING in the subject!


Many of us have taken pictures, made videos, recorded workshops and teach-ins at the occupation, produced flyers and subverted UWE's marketing. Some of these files were shared on facebook but many of us have much more on our hard drives. May I suggest that we send the pictures we think are worth sharing to or at least announce there that we have stuff worth sharing? We could then gather all of this on a CD so that we all have each other's pictures without having to put all of that on evil facebook where everyone can see it. If you want to help out with this, please email!

Email: and please add FILES in the subject!


* 10 January (Monday), location TBD: national conference against education cuts and for free education (
* 15 January (Saturday) in Manchester: Network X Gathering (
* 29 January in London: National demonstration (
* 5 February in Paris: transnational coordination meeting of the 'Dissent' network preparing actions against the G8 in France this summer
* 11-13 February in Paris: European Meeting of University Movements (

If you are planning to go or if you are interested to go to one of the meetings, please email so that we can know which events are covered, communicate and support where needed!

Email: and please add EVENT in the subject!


There's still some remaining follow-up work and a few great ideas and initiatives growing for next year (some have to do with UWE, others with the broader movement). If you have a bit of time and if you're interested to get involved now with putting together some really exciting things, send an email!

Email: and please add I CAN HELP in the subject!


We have had offers to arrange a comprehensive one-day action training from several UK activists. We also have the possibility to invite to UWE a legendary civil disobedience trainer for a two days week-end workshop. Finally, we also have prepared what should be a fantastic media training for those of you interested to do media work for our group and for the movement.

If you are interested, please reply this email and tell us if you are interested in some or all of the following:
* the one-day comprehensive direct action training,
* the two days intensive civil disobedience training,
* the media training (a couple of hours).

We'll decide what to organise and the order in which these trainings will happen based on your replies, so please email!

Email: and please add TRAINING in the subject!

There's also a legal observer and support workshop on Thursday 13 January that some of you might be interested to attend:


Many of us have lost some of our belongings at the camp or at related events, and some of us have sometimes ended up with unfamiliar things! If you are still looking for something you've lost or if you have found something, please email!

Email: and please add LOST or FOUND in the subject!

MERRY CHRISTMAS (for those of you who celebrate it) and HAVE A WONDERFUL BREAK!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Call for Papers: Reimagining the University

Call for Papers December 2010
For the Journal Reimagining the University

This is not a postmortem…

And the vote on the 9th of December was not a death throe. This is an invitation for your theory, praxis and strategy to stimulate discussion of what the university could be.

For detractors and cynics, implicit in any protest against reform is a defense of the status quo. We know this is not the case.

The Roundhouse Group and the Really Open University have teamed up to produce a one-off journal edition entitled ‘Reimagining the University’ to celebrate and document three days of happenings at the University of Leeds. This will be displayed at We want this platform to go beyond a static depiction of past events; in an effort to ensure this, we now issue a second call for submissions.

These contributions can be in any form: essays, personal reflections, conversations, even maps. ‘Reimagining the University’ seeks to collate the plurality of practices and theories dispersed through active groups calling for change in Higher Education.

The recent response to the marketisation of higher education has given a voice and a collective identity to a discontent stretching beyond funding constraints. It is now time to respond as well as create, looking for new action and dialogue for the future. We want to open up debate, not close it down.

Issues to consider: What is worth salvaging from the university system? What strategies do we have for attracting those who ought to be sympathetic: passive academics, apathetic students, individuals outside of the University, young people? How to operate within the academy without being corrupted by it? What could The University be? How do we make this happen?

This journal will frame the issues for an open symposium to be held at Westminster University 2011.

Deadline for Papers February 11th 2011

Please send submissions to

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A 2008 interview with Francesco Cossiga about crushing the student movement in Italy

by Andrea Cangini for "Quotidiano nazionale" (Il Giorno/Il Resto del Carlino/La Nazione), 23.10.2008 (original text in Italian pasted below)

President Cossiga, do you think that Berlusconi has gone too far in threatening the use of State force against the students?

That depends, if he believes he is the Prime Minister of a strong State then no, he was right. But as Italy is a weak State, as the opposition is no longer the rock-like PCI [1] but the evanescent PD [2], I'm afraid that his words will not be followed by action and that Berlusconi will just end up with egg on his face.

What should happen now?
At this point, Maroni [3] should do what I did when I was Home Secretary.

What's that?
Firstly, forget the high-school students... can you imagine what would happen if a 10-year-old kid got killed or seriously injured...

What about the university students, then?
Let them get on with it. Withdraw the police from the streets and the universities, infiltrate the movement with agents provocateurs ready for anything, and allow the demonstrators to run loose for a week or so, devastating shops, setting cars on fire and causing havoc in the streets.

Then what?
Then, with public opinion on your side, the sound of ambulance sirens should drown out the sirens of police and carabinieri cars.

In the sense that...
In the sense that the forces of law and order should massacre the demonstrators without pity and send them all to hospital. Not arrest them - the magistrates would set them free straight away in any event... beat them bloody and beat the teachers storring them up bloody too.

The teachers, too?
The teacher above all. Not the older ones, of course... the young girls. Have you any idea of the seriousness of what's happening? There are teachers indoctrinating children and encouraging them to demonstrate - that's criminal behaviour!

But you realise what they would say in Europe after something like you suggest? "Fascism returns to Italy", they'd say.
Rubbish, it's the democratic way - put out the flame before the fire spreads.

What fire?
I'm not exaggerating when I say I truly believe that terrorism will return to bloody the streets of this country. And I wouldn't want people to forget that the Red Brigades (BR) were not born in the factories but in the universities. And that the slogans they used were used before them by the Student Movement and the trade union left.

So you think it is possible that history will repeat itself?
It's not possible, it's probable. That's why I'm saying: let's not forget that the BR were born because the flame was not put out in time.

Veltroni's PD is on the side of the demonstrators.
Look, I can't in all honesty see Veltroni taking to the streets and risk getting a cracked skull. You're more likely to see him in some exclusive club in Chicago, applauding Obama.

He won't take to the streets with a stick in his hands, sure, but politically...
Politically, he's making the same mistake that the PCI made when the troubles [4] started: it backed the movement, deluding itself that it could control it, but when it too became a target, as was bound to happen, it soon changed its mind. The so-called hard-line adopted by Andreotti, Zaccagnini and me was suggested by Berlinguer [5]... But today we've got the PD, an ectoplasm led by another ectoplasm. And that's another good reason for Berlusconi to be more prudent.

Translated by nmcn

Translator notes:
1. Italian Communist Party, which changed name and broke up in 1991.
2. Democratic Party, led by Walter Veltroni, formed in 2007 from the remains of the old PCI together with other centre-left forces.
3. Roberto Maroni (Lega Nord), current Home Minister.
4. The "contestazione", a widespread progressive protest movement which began in the late 1960s.
5. Leader of the PCI from 1972 to 1984.

INTERVISTA A COSSIGA «Bisogna fermarli, anche il terrorismo partì dagli atenei»
PRESIDENTE Cossiga, pensa che minacciando l`uso della forza pubblica contro gli studenti Berlusconi abbia esagerato? «Dipende, se ritiene d`essere il presidente del Consiglio di uno Stato forte, no, ha fatto benissimo. A bit stronger than he was right he was absolutely right
Ma poiché l`Italia è uno Stato debole, e all`opposizione non c`è il granitico Pci ma l`evanescente Pd, temo che alle parole non seguiranno i fatti e che quindi Berlusconi farà una figurac- cia».
Quali fatti dovrebbero seguire? «Maroni dovrebbe fare quel che feci io quand`ero ministro dell`Interno».
Ossia? «In primo luogo, lasciare perdere gli studenti dei licei, perché pensi a cosa succederebbe se un ragazzino rimanesse ucciso o gravemente ferito…».
Gli universitari, invece? «Lasciarli fare. Ritirare le forze di polizia dalle strade e dalle università, infiltrare il movimento con agenti provocatori pronti a tutto, e lasciare che per una decina di giorni i manifestanti devastino i negozi, diano fuoco alle macchine e mettano a ferro e fuoco le città».
Dopo di che? «Dopo di che, forti del consenso popolare, il suono delle sirene delle ambulanze dovrà sovrastare quello delle auto di polizia e carabinieri».
Nel senso che…
«Nel senso che le forze dell`ordine non dovrebbero avere pietà e mandarli tutti in ospedale. Non arrestarli, che tanto poi i magistrati li rimetterebbero subito in libertà, ma picchiarli e picchiare anche quei docenti che li fomentano». Should be merciless and send them all to hospital not bloody
Anche i docenti? «Soprattutto i docenti».
Presidente, il suo è un paradosso, no? «Non dico quelli anziani, certo, ma le maestre ragazzine sì. Si rende conto della gravità di quello che sta succedendo? Ci sono insegnanti che in- dottrinano i bambini e li portano in piazza: un atteggiamento criminale!». Yours is just a paradox, isn’t it?
E lei si rende conto di quel che direbbero in Europa dopo una cura del genere? «In Italia torna il fascismo», direbbero. Cure, prescription
«Balle, questa è la ricetta democratica:
spegnere la fiamma prima che divampi l`incendio».
Quale incendio? «Non esagero, credo davvero che il terrorismo tornerà a insanguinare le strade di questo Paese. E non vorrei che ci si dimenticasse che le Brigate rosse non sono nate nelle fabbriche ma nelle università.
E che gli slogan che usavano li avevano usati prima di loro il Movimento studentesco e la sinistra sindacale».
E` dunque possibile che la storia si ripeta? «Non è possibile, è probabile.
Per questo dico: non dimentichiamo che le Br nacquero perché il fuoco non fu spento per tempo».
Il Pd di Veltroni è dalla parte dei manifestanti.
«Mah, guardi, francamente io Veltroni che va in piazza col rischio di prendersi le botte non ce lo vedo. Lo vedo meglio in un club esclusivo di Chicago ad applaudire Obama…». Taking a beating
Non andrà in piazza con un bastone, certo, ma politicamente…
«Politicamente, sta facendo lo stesso errore che fece il Pci all`inizio della contestazione: fece da sponda al movimento illudendosi di controllarlo, ma quando, com`era logico, nel mirino finirono anche loro cambiarono radicalmente registro.
La cosiddetta linea della fermezza applicata da Andreotti, da Zaccagnini e da me, era stato Berlinguer a volerla… Ma oggi c`è il Pd, un ectoplasma guidato da un ectoplasma. Ed è anche per questo che Berlusconi farebbe bene ad essere più prudente».

Monday, 20 December 2010

Petition to cut military spending not education!

Click here and take one minute of your time to take this simple action.

Report from the Coordination meeting of a National Assembly of Education

Re-posted from the blog of the education activist network.

This report has been collectively written by Jamie Woodcock, Manchester occupier and Andrew Sanchez, LSE occupier. Please re-post

On Tuesday 14th December, around 70 students from a variety of institutions attended a meeting at the LSE to coordinate a national assembly of education. Present at the meeting were groups of students from the following institutions: UCL, LSE, Sheffield, Manchester, Kings College London, SOAS, Oxford, Cambridge, Camden La Swap 6th Form College, London University of the Arts, Middlesex, Kent, Queen Mary’s, Essex, Sussex, Warwick, Brighton, London Met, Birkbeck, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, NUS LGBT Campaign, and UEL.

This process was initiated by motions passed by the following occupations calling for a general assembly of education early in the New Year; Kings College London, LSE, Sheffield, Manchester, UWE and UEL. Tuesday’s meeting followed a previous planning meeting attended by 80 students and supporters with students present from further universities, including Hull, Westminster FE College and others. In total, delegates from 13 universities were present.

The meeting started with an open session led by the floor on what a national assembly for education could be like, with students giving examples of successful student assemblies in Cambridge, Manchester and Sheffield. People also discussed how the need for such a national body arises out of the democratic deficit in society.

The second half of the meeting debated and voted on proposals. This was carried out in a serious and democratic manner; the following five proposals were voted upon and subsequently passed by a large majority of those present:

1. That the assembly should focus primarily on the direct tactical questions facing the movement in the new term, and propose actions which the movement can unite behind.

2. Whilst aimed predominately at students, the assembly should be open to attendance and participation for all supporters of the movement.

3. Voting at the assembly should be open to all those present. The meeting rejected a delegate-based voting model

4. That the meeting supports the calls for a national demonstration on Saturday 29th January, as the movement needs a national demonstration in January that all can attend[1].

5. That the assembly should take place on the day after, Sunday 30th so as to maximise the ability of those from outside London able to attend.

Other suggestions for items of discussion at the assembly were alternative visions of education, dealing with legal issues, and how to conduct successful occupations. It was felt by the co-chairs of the meeting that there was consensus that, although not the primary focus of the assembly, space could be found at the assembly for these issues and others.

A motion proposed by LSE students came up with a formula that different sections of the movement (school, FE, HE etc) should have the space to meet and formulate their own suggestions. These can then be supported by the whole assembly in a plenary. In this way we maximise the solidarity of our movement whist maintaining space for independent action. Although not directly voted on, this proposal was seen as a sensible way to proceed in this matter.

It is now the aim to hold an open organising meeting very early in the New Year to plan the conference along these lines voted in this meeting.

[1] this was decided in order to work in solidarity with UCU’s proposed demonstration on that day

Call for a national conference against education cuts and for free education (week beginning Monday 10th of January)

This is an email that was sent to the camp's address on the 17th of December.

Dear friends,

We write to propose a united national conference against education cuts and for free education and to invite your occupation to be a co-organiser of this.

Whilst groups and occupations will continue to organize a whole range of local, regional and national activities - which will continue to put the Tory-led government under considerable pressure – we believe that a national, unified conference will strengthen the whole movement. We believe there is considerable enthusiasm amongst students for such an initiative.

The aim would be to have a united national conference in the next academic term organised by all those campaigns, Student Unions and sections of NUS, and occupations that have so successfully organised actions over recent weeks against higher fees and education cuts following the NUS leaderships' failure to build on the successful national demo of November 10.

To this end we believe representatives from all participating groups should meet at a convenient time and place in the week beginning Monday 10th January 2011.

We hope that you will able to participate in this initiative which we believe will facilitate greater collaboration between all those who wish to seriously fight to defend our education.

In solidarity,

Free Education Campaign

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Statement of University of Kent Occupation

We the Kent occupation and those that stand by us...

On Wednesday the 8th of December The Senate building of the University of Kent in Canterbury was occupied by students in peaceful protest. This is our stand against the blow dealt to institutes of Higher Education in the United Kingdom by unjust political agenda.

The media has so far demonized those that have taken to the cause but we stand firm in an entirely peaceful direct action, uniting staff and student alike.
Our aims, akin to our brothers and sisters in other occupations, are as follows :-
We wish to open the lines of communication between those like us whether their occupation continues, their protest has been silenced or they simply have found no venue to speak.

To convince our senior members of staff to stand alongside us in a plea for an accessible education for future generations and job safety for academic & support staff.

We wish for a policy of open-books, allowing the possibility of constructive discussion amongst all the available minds within institutions in order to assist in their budget concerns.

To remind our local authority and government across the country that their positions are by grace of the people and so should listen when they speak.

To beseech our Vice Chancellor to retract herself as a signatory in the letter addressed to the Telegraph on December 8th declaring herself in support of the abominable cuts. We ask that she also apologise to the students and staff, whose views that she neglected in her actions

To request the respect of our human and political right to protest, in an unthreatening manner, without oppressive hindrance or victimisation to our students or staff.

To allow us access to basic amenities within the occupied building to maintain health and well-being amongst the students.

To support those in further education in their battle, alongside ours, to maintain funding which allows them to pursue their education freely.

Should these cuts be allowed to come to pass then the concept of a glass ceiling will become all too much a reality for many.
Education is a basic civil right, for all, not some.

For those whose faith is waning, remember: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead

You can follow the occupation at the University of Kent here.