HAPPENING NOW! Students shutting down finance office in protest against grants cuts!

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We are here today to protest the cuts to maintenance grants and demand that the University stands in public opposition to the new loan system. These cuts will adversely affect the poorest and most marginalised students, and are sure to only entrench deeper inequality across society.

By replacing maintenance grants with loans, the poorest students – previously recipients of largest grants – are forced to take on the most expensive loans, effectively paying back more than their richer counterparts. Poorer graduates will be indebted for longer.

We firmly reject this system, and demand that our University does the same, by way of declaring public opposition to the scrapping of maintenance grants. The student body has already made its opinion known, with an overwhelmingly positive vote during the ‘All Student Meeting,’ in favour of supporting maintenance grants.

It took 18 MP’s 90 minutes to vote in favour of converting maintenance grants to loans. Our University should firmly oppose this behaviour and political system, if it is intent on safeguarding democracy. In the latest Warwick Question Time our new Vice Chancellor, Stuart Croft, after being asked about maintenance grants appealed vaguely to ‘discussion’, creation of committees and passing a motion through University Council. We believe that our University should not hesitate to stand up for the rights of its students, and utilise Russell Group’s Lobbying Power in order to demand and secure a better future for students, especially those who are most vulnerable. Instead, our VC chose not to acknowledge Russell Group’s ability to petition the government and protect students.
We also see the wider problems in higher education and our university, including FOI requests, the injunction imposed on student protests at Warwick, and the racist Prevent agenda.

The government’s Green Paper proposes an assault on higher education, with numerous reforms including University exemption from FOI requests. FOI’s at Warwick have revealed ‘241 staff being paid below living wage,’ amongst other worrying facts, and as such represent transparency and accountability mandatory for the University to be a fair place for student and staff alike. At the same question time, our Vice Chancellor said that FOI’s cost too much money and allowed for alternative education institutions to ‘snap up’ top degrees and top candidates. We demand that our University fights the government Green Paper reforms to ensure it remains open and transparent.

We believe that the injunction against occupation style protests infringes on our right to properly protest on campus, as occupation style protests are an integral and historically successful method of dissent. Stuart Croft made vague reference to nebulous ‘violence’, whilst we in turn demand that the University apologises for its violent actions against students, and lifts the injunction, allowing us to campaign against the structural violence inherent within the world today.

The Government’s Counter Terrorism Programme, Prevent is a racist, Islamophobic and ineffective piece of legislation. We demand that the University rally against this. We understand Croft’s adherence to the ‘law’, but equally the University must recognize this legislation as dangerous, prejudiced and unjust. We demand that Warwick must reject Prevent to the full extent of its capacities.

We come here today to protest for the rights of a free and open education. To oppose the scrapping of maintenance grants, and the inequality that entails. To oppose the scrapping of FOI’s and the opacity and marketization of the University this promotes. To oppose the current injunction against occupations so that we may protest freely, and to oppose the racist and bigoted agenda of Prevent.

We come here today to disrupt the finance office. This neo-liberal organ at the heart of the university reflects the ongoing neoliberal austerity programme that further immiserates and attacks not only students, but also vulnerable people from all around the UK. We must reject the programme of cuts of which maintenance grants are one small but significant part. The finance office is complicit in these cuts, complicit in the deterioration of our University into a mere business, and must be interrupted. We disrupt because of the collapse of accountability in our university, and the diminished efficacy of democratic channels. At this stage, disruption is our only option in order to defend ourselves from structural exploitation.

We reject the idea that a termly question time with the Vice-Chancellor be the extent of students’ democratic engagement and influence within the University; an event where we are given no straight answers but one, that decisions must navigate the endless bureaucracy that is the management structure of this institution; a structure in which University management, whose interests within the neoliberal university are contrary to that of students, decide on the ‘best course of action’ on their students’ behalf. So we have come to the finance office, right beside the VC’s office to push for a meaningful dialogue that occurs on our terms, which genuinely engages with the gravity of our concerns and addresses the urgency of the situation.

We will not sit idly by as University bigwigs have conversations in committees, putting their interests above our education and our futures, and are complicit in the dismantling of public higher education.

The demonstration in London two weeks ago showed that if you scrap our grants, we will shut down your bridges. Now, in the finance office, a space that does nothing for students, we are saying once again, if you are complicit in the scrapping of our grants and the grants for future generations who desperately need it, then we will protest and disrupt you.

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7 thoughts on “HAPPENING NOW! Students shutting down finance office in protest against grants cuts!

    • We specifically selected the finance office as a site for disruption with the recognition that we’ve been criticized in the past for protesting near student spaces. This office provides no service to students but rather simply manages and administers the commercial dealings of the University – its contracts, investments, corporate finance etc. It does not provide a service in the context of student finance/student fees, as is often commonly misunderstood. We thus were attempting to target the neo-liberal and administrative hub of the University rather than focusing on an action around central campus which might more acutely disrupt study.

      Regardless, we acknowledge that protest, in any site and in any form, is intended to inconvenience and disrupt business-as-usual. We do not thoughtlessly dismiss that this sometimes (for a limited time) adversely impacts students (although we have, when occupying or disrupting, always targeted corporate and administrative and not student space, and security or management have shut down nearby sites in order to delegitimize us from the perspective of the student body) – but nor would we suggest that inconveniencing study for a brief period of time is in any way comparable in gravity or detriment to the abolition of grants for the poorest students and an education system under attack by the Government. If, in the long-term, we are fighting for a future for public Higher Education where it is now in crisis, that goal would seem to take precedence over maintaining a completely undisturbed academic work routine for the day. Although our intention was never and has never been to disrupt study, and we selected our target on this basis, nor do we accept the argument that we should care more for our self-progression and academic success than we do the collective future of our education and society. This is exactly the type of mentality we must resist.

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  1. Although you may think that’s true, if you were to calculate the chances of one of your marches having any equitable outcome against the use to multiple individuals of undisturbed study time, I think it’s a bit foolish to outright state that your cause receives precedence of another. Although you deem higher education to be in crisis, I still do not understand what gives your group the right to rob others. Furthermore, ‘though we have, when occupying or disrupting, always targeted corporate and administrative and not student space’ is not exactly truthful when you targeted the second largest student space on campus. Being there at the time, and seeing the number of staff that you were supposedly inconveniencing, I find it an embarrassment being at a university where groups consistently parade themselves acting on behalf of every student when there was three times as many there than staff.

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