Today a student Christmas event scheduled by WBS in the Slate for lunchtime was cancelled by the University. We realise that this is an inconvenience for the students involved.
We had a meeting with University management yesterday, in which we were asked to vacate the space without any concessions on our demands. The University deliberately decided not to engage with multiple alternatives offered by the SU for the event, instead choosing to use the cancellation to try to discredit the occupation. Alternative venues included the Copper Rooms and the Panorama rooms in the Rootes building, all of which could have been used to host the 300 students for the mere two hours.
We think that the cancellation is a deliberate attempt by management to pit one group of students against another and divide the student body over the occupation. Peter Dunn, the University’s propagandist, wasted no time in going on BBC Coventry & Warwickshire to lament the cancellation yesterday (we responded live at 4:05PM yesterday). The University are using the Christmas party as a political football, and don’t have the best interests of the WBS students at heart.
In all of this Warwick is focusing more on the cancellation of this event than the fact that HE reform is destroying public higher education and that hourly paid teachers are struggling to make ends meet. This shows where their priorities lie – the disruption of a party is not comparable to the disruptions HE reforms will cause to thousands of students’ and staff’s lives; this is why we have taken action.
Occupations are meant to be disruptive and we chose the Slate because it is a conference space which is not designed to serve students but companies. The disruption of such spaces directly targets the University and its financial channels, not its students.
While the University works to turn this around for their benefit, in all discussions we have had with management so far, our demands have not been meaningfully engaged with.
This occupation would not have been necessary if Warwick had listened to the demands that have long been voiced by students, the SU, UCU, the Assembly, Warwick Anti-Casualisation, Warwick for Free Education and others. It is time for the University to engage with its students and their demands. If they demonstrate that they are willing to grant our just, democratic demands, then the action can come to a close. Without such steps, we will not end our occupation.