Four Clear Demands

DISCLAIMER: This article is a personal opinion of one of our activists. It does not represent the views of the group at this time.

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The student movement is at its height, buzzing with momentum. In campuses across the United Kingdom, students are taking direct action and campaigning for a democratic, accessible and free Higher Education. In the past two years, we have seen the ranks of student activism swell and we have seen some victories to match with it.

Defend Education Birmingham achieved the living wage. At Warwick, the Vice Chancellor refuted the Russell Group’s call for £16,000 fees. We are achieving real outputs, and we shouldn’t stop there. There is victory in the process, and it is on those victories that, for instance, occupiers in the New University of Amsterdam have built a long and lasting movement.

In Warwick, we have put enormous pressure on senior management. The successful and historic Vote of No Confidence in the Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Nigel Thrift; and the Summit on Peaceful Protest where management all but apologized for their role in the December incidents of police brutality are only two examples of how we have put pressure on the University.

Yet, in spite of this, the University continues to advance in a dangerous direction. From plain-clothes security to the outsourcing of teaching staff that I have revealed today in a Boar news article, the University are still not reverting the course within our own institution towards marketization, casualization of staff, and alienation of both students and staff.

Something needs to change. We need to exert more pressure, focused on a small number of key and actionable demands. Demands should be concise and the University must be able to meet them in the short run. These four demands below are merely illustrative of what the demands could be, and not in any way demands approved by the group:

1. An apology from the University on their blaming of peaceful protesters for the violence they suffered at the hands of the police, and the University’s role in facilitating this.

2. The lifting of the indefinite injunction on occupation-style protest on campus.

3. A security code of conduct that protects freedom of assembly and expression on campus.

4. The immediate halt to casualization of staff, through TeachHigher and other means.

These 4 demands can all be resolved by the University, if they so desire. They can lift the injunction. They can apologize for the VC’s ridiculous statements. They can have a Security code of conduct. They can abort TeachHigher and reverse the course of marketization and casualization.

These 4 demands are proportionate and fair. Only a messed up University could conceive them as radical. Most of them are backed by the democratic will of students. The lack of an apology was a central point behind the Vote of No Confidence in Nigel Thrift. The Students’ Union recently passed near-unanimously policy on creating a Security Code of Conduct. The SU also has policy against casualization and marketization, namely in its policy on Postgraduates Who Teach.

On the back of these 4 demands, we can justify and mobilize a spring and summer of discontent and disruption at the University. These four demands distill with clarity our message and permit us to channel the momentum of our movement for concrete goals. With these demands, we can be confident on our ability to succeed in the short-run.

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5 thoughts on “Four Clear Demands

  1. With all due respect, this is liberal rubbish.

    “The student movement is at its height, buzzing with momentum.” No, no it’s not. 2010 saw huge demonstrations across the country, 100,000 students marching in London, thousands of students walking out across the country. 200+ school, college and university students walked out in Coventry aged as young as 13. That was momentum. What we have now is an echo chamber of a few “activists” staging (usually tiny) occupations and proclaiming “momentum” that simply isn’t there – oh, and then calling security on radical students who actually do raise serious demands (Goldsmiths)

    “At Warwick, the Vice Chancellor refuted the Russell Group’s call for £16,000 fees.” If that’s the best you can do, it’s not great is it?

    “We need to exert more pressure, focused on a small number of key and actionable demands. Demands should be concise and the University must be able to meet them in the short run.” Translation: we need to focus on minimal demands that the university can meet without lifting a finger, despite the fact that even if they’re met the situation will remain much the same.

    Even if your demands were met (which they won’t be) students would still be paying £9K fees, staff will still have their pay cut, cops can still come on to your campus and attack you and courses will still have funding cut.

    Who wrote this, a member of the Labour Party or something?

    Demands should be radical. Demand free education. Demand cops off campus. Demand no more cuts. Demand a £10 an hour minimum wage for all. And yes, demand system change. Capitalism can’t fulfil those demands, we know that – so fight for socialist change.

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    • You will notice, Kitty, that these are demands for short-term action. They do nothing to dilute our greater demands, which will still stand – free education, cops off campus, no more cuts, a statutory living wage.

      Stopping TeachHigher is key to halting enormous pay cuts and job insecurity at Warwick. You’re either not from here or not aware of what is happening, but it’s the real deal. Stopping it isn’t liberal rubbish.

      If you were a member of staff at the University, or someone who was there on the Dec. 3rd sit-in, you would understand the urgency of these demands, and their real impact on our community. Of course, we must continue to fight for more than this – and we will.

      P.S. The characterisation of the student movement might be a bit optimistic, but there’s no point in being gloomy and sapping the buzz from the movement. We, at Warwick, are excited to be a part of this moment in the student movement. I’m really sorry if you’re not.

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  2. Ah, it’s Miguel – so I was right, a Labour Party member 😉 any thoughts about your party’s record on introducing tuition fees?

    “They do nothing to dilute our greater demands, which will still stand – free education, cops off campus, no more cuts, a statutory living wage.” Of course they do nothing to dilute it, and as part of a mass campaign those 4 demands are all fine – but as 4 demands on their own, as they’re posed here, they’re liberal and disconnected from radical change.

    “You’re either not from here or not aware of what is happening” I’m from Coventry (you might have left your fancy university bubble to come here once or twice?) and I’m well aware of what’s happening, so don’t patronise me. Yes, scrapping TeachHigher would be good, but even if you achieve that (and, frankly, you won’t, unless you have a mass movement of students and workers) workers will still have their pay cut, jobs will still be cut, courses will still have funding cut, etc.

    “If you were a member of staff at the University, or someone who was there on the Dec. 3rd sit-in, you would understand the urgency of these demands, and their real impact on our community.” Interesting – to clarify this point, Miguel, are you arguing that *every* member of staff at Warwick and *everyone* who was at the sit-in shares your view that these 4 demands should be posed on their own? If not, then what is the relevance of your argument from experience?

    “The characterisation of the student movement might be a bit optimistic, but there’s no point in being gloomy and sapping the buzz from the movement.” I’m not being gloomy, I’m being realistic.

    “I’m really sorry if you’re not.” Once again, don’t patronise me.

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