Press release received today:
One week into the ongoing Cambridge University occupation, students protesting against cuts to education and public services blockaded the entire Old Schools and Senate House administrative site. The blockade began at the start of the working day, and closed access to the Old School offices- the nerve centre of the University and home to the Vice-Chancellor’s office, the Registrary’s office, the Finance office and others.
The occupation began on Friday 26 November, and the University immediately sought legal permission to forcibly evict the students, attempting to shut down their internet to inhibit communication. After a week of stonewalling by University management, the students decided to make their presence impossible to ignore.
The occupying students wrote to the University management on Wednesday once again demanding engagement, indicating that failure to respond to their letter would constitute a refusal to negotiate. University management refused to communicate with the occupiers.
The actions in Cambridge are part of a growing wave of recent student actions against cuts to education and public services. Since occupying, students have issued demands on the university(1) and held a series of free and open lectures, workshops, discussions, and performances(2). The occupation has received support from over 280 Cambridge academics(3), and an international petition has received over 750 signatures including political writer and linguist Noam Chomsky, economics writer Jeff Madrick, and historian Frances Fox Piven(4).
Alice Wells, a student in the occupation, said: “We are here because we believe in an education system that is open and available to all regardless of their ability to pay. We do not accept the need for this government’s brutal and economically illiterate spending cuts which will damage the social fabric of this country. We demand that the University of Cambridge use its influence, wealth and prestige to fight for a more just system, and won’t stop until they do.”
Mark Kerridge, a student, said: “It’s shameful that the University is refusing to speak to students defending the right to education, just as it is shameful that it is refusing to speak out against fees and cuts. Only a few days before the Commons vote on fees, the University’s silence makes it complicit in the devastation of our education system, and forces us to take action now.”