The Free University of Sheffield is now taking place outside Clegg’s Hallam constituency office.
Students initially began the occupation at 11.30, before being removed from the office by police. They are now occupying the space outside the office.
The lib dems sold out students and made a farce of democracy. It is only right that they are mercilessly targeted – we should never let a party who have so betrayed us have any student support again. Interestingly, it seems the lib dems know this too, and they are rapidly moving rightwards, abandoning any premise of supporting HE reform or a more accessible education system.
There are also worrying reports of an attempted arrest. We hope this isn’t true, as a peaceful occupation should never be met with state violence (although we know, from bitter experience, that this is not the case.)
This the Free University statement:
“Students from the Free University of Sheffield have occupied Nick Clegg’s constituency office. We have transformed the space, symbolic of betrayal and the politics of the neoliberal establishment, into an autonomous, collectively-run learning space: The Free University of Sheffield. Among other things, we will be running an arts and crafts session and seminars on the failures of liberal democracy and the first downfall of the Liberal Party.
We are occupying the space in the name of free education: education free from fees, free from privatisation, and freely accessible to all.
Currently universities are built on the idea that students are customers and that education is a personal investment. We believe that education needs to be seen as a public good which benefits society as a whole. It must be free and accessible to everybody, and the responsibility for this should be distributed throughout society. This responsibility lies with those who can afford it – the rich and the corporations—not with those who benefit from it the most. Students should not be crippled by debt simply for choosing higher education.
We need to remind ourselves of education’s intrinsic value; it can give us fulfilment, empowerment and a shared sense of cooperation – something which has been lost in today’s universities.
In 2010, Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems got into power on the back of a promise to end tuition fees. Instead, they tripled them. Almost half of Lib Dem MPs broke their personal promise to vote against a fee rise.  And only four days ago they announced that they would stop Labour from cutting tuition fees if the two parties went into coalition.  The Lib Dems have repeatedly shown that they do not care about the students who elected them into power five years ago.
University of Sheffield student and Free University activist Alison Kwan said, ‘We are trying to project an image of what we think education should look like by subverting an oppressive neoliberal space into an accessible, free and non-hierarchical one. By occupying Clegg’s constituency office we aren’t just condemning Nick Clegg’s actions. We are rejecting the broader political system that has failed to represent us and we are making our voices heard in a way that voting in a general election could never allow’.
We also want to extend our solidarity to the students in occupation at UvA in Amsterdam. Their resilience in the face of brutality has been inspiring.
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And the hashtag #OccupyClegg