Friday, January 23, 2009

Cambridge University goes into occupation

Tonight students have occupied buildings at Cambridge University in solidarity with Gaza. This is part of a wave of student occupations sweeping across the country. My man Manos reports;

On the night of the 23rd January about a 100 Cambridge University students gathered to watch John Pilgers' film "Palestine is still the issue". The film is touching, documenting the second Intifada, and the continuing occupation of Palestine.

There was something special in the air: the film was followed by a debate, on what can be done by students in the country to meaningfully react to the situation in Palestine. The debate is still raging around me. It is clear some were already set on a course of action: occupations around the country have been blossoming and a plan is discussed about taking the building and occupying it.

The arguments for and against are still raging: on one hand occupations in other places were successful to get scholarships for Palestinian students – a tangible outcome. On the other hand people voiced concerns that an occupation should be the "last resort", after demands have been put to the University. Practical problems of
advertising the action are also being considered, as well as how to effectively hold the building.

The climate of fear about doing something wrong was slightly comical for such a low key action. People mentioned the threat of being charged with "aggravated trespass" as well as getting in trouble with the University authorities. The discussion calmed those who called the action "extreme" and laughter's were held then the action was liked to "taking hostages".

At the end of about an hour of discussion back an fourth a vote was taken, and a majority decided to take the building for the night, and re-vote on whether to continue with the action tomorrow morning. Teams of people moved swiftly to keep the doors open for access in and out, and others started scouting for toilets and wi-fi access.

People are still arriving from other meetings, others have been dispatched to bring food and blankets. If you always wanted to get involved in actions, your time has come! The occupation is on in the Law faculty building, Sidgwick Site, Cambridge, UK.

Blog of the occupation:

Other occupations include:
LSE, Essex, Warwick, KCL, SOAS, Manchester Met, Oxford, Sussex, Birmingham, Leeds.


weggis said...

just for one moment there I thought Cambridge Uni had got a job in the real world!

Jim Jay said...

Ah Weggis - I will gladly join you in anti-student cynicism another day, but today they are getting up to lovely mischief so I shall let them off their youth this once.