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The occupation in support of Luqman Onikosi was counter-productive

On Friday 11th March, I went down to Bramber House to watch a gathering of approximately 200 other students protesting against the Home Office’s decision to deport former Sussex student Luqman Onikosi back to Nigeria, his home country.

While I’m personally in full support of Luqman and the attempt to repeal the decision, I can’t help but question the method and indeed the motives of those students who were recently occupying Bramber House

In itself the occupation and the demands made upon the university by the protestors are ludicrous, but most importantly counter-productive. The mere suggestion that the University has some sort of power over the Home Office is nonsense.

Even if it were to issue a statement in support of Luqman, what evidence is there to say that the Home Office would listen?

It seems to me that perhaps instead of directing their anguish towards the University, the occupiers should be turning their attention to more productive methods of protest.

It comes across that the occupation itself isn’t solely about the rights of Luqman to remain in the UK, but is in fact part of a larger agenda which is opposed to the University’s management, the privatisation of education and tuition fees.

While I stand in agreement that free education is something that we as students should be fighting for, I think this rather detracts from the imperative issue at hand.

The occupation of Bramber House, far from being inconvenient to students who have classes in the building, or to those who work in the Co-Op or Eat Central, comes across as some kind of nostalgic trip to the occupation of the same building in 2013.

I’m not sure if it’s entirely fair to suggest that these students are only occupying out of some kind of hobby, but I certainly think we should be questioning their motives, and helping Luqman fight his case in more fruitful and less obstructive ways.

Instead of the occupation of Bramber house, I urge you all to contact your MP (yes both the one at home and our very own Caroline Lucas), sign the widely circulated petition and contribute to the page dedicated to helping Luqman receive funding for his legal case.

And to satisfy those craving for protest, how about we demonstrate outside the Home Office, Westminster, or Theresa May’s constituency office?

Lucy Williams

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9 Comments

  1. This is such a poor argument. The occupation has gathered a lot of support, now we need to use and maintain that support through other creative activism. The occupation is just part of the fight – the fight is not over. The university need to recognise their complicity. Don’t use your energy to oppose the movement be a part of it! ‪#‎dontdeportluqman‬

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  2. I heard today that when protestors entered Bramber House a staff member was knocked to the floor and trampled on! Apparantly she was later rushed to hospital and is in a critical condition!

    Not quite as moral as they make out!

    My daughter’s partner who has been working as a security guard at the University has been threatened, spat at and injured during the protest!

    Their behaviour is a disgrace!

    Reply
  3. The university has declared it’s support of the Home Office’s decision by way of a report they issued. This in itself explains the students anguish at the university. Luqman is a fellow student who deserves support from the institution, which he isn’t currently getting. The writer shows their ignorance with this poorly researched article.

    Reply
  4. Basic research will show that this campaign has actually been running for many more years than just the last two at Sussex, pursuing all different kinds of routes, including ALL the ones named at the end, professional and legal, to gain meaningful and balanced compromise and understanding from the Home Office as well as other institutions; engaging with MPs and institutions, and the university via letters, emails, representation etc. It’s not ‘all of a sudden’ just because it’s been spotted in Sussex on campus. So WELL DONE the occupiers for getting it this much attention!! It’s worked, because after all the letter writing and petition attempts, no one was saying anything – now they are.

    It’s clear now that those other methods have been denied their effects, and that the government is intent on deportation. At that stage in peaceful campaigning it is fair to expect that other methods – and protest – might come in to play. When people are denied reasonable means of discussion or dialogue it is not shocking that they become more visible and present in the physical sense. Protesting is not about ‘nostalgia.’

    The methods you name at the end are ONE strand. There is no one answer to saving a life. If it were that simple, …well…lots of things wouldn’t be happening globally as we speak….it’s just not that straightforward.

    If the university wanted to protect student safety during this time, it could have thought long and hard about a more reasonable means to engage in dialogue with their students. Each of these students are fee paying in some way. If they don’t want protests, protesters and the aggression and passion that often accompanies it, the university ought to acknowledge its customers, rather than permit that the dialogue break down to such a point that the most effective means of them being heard is to protest. It’s worth being aware that the uni had these other options before calling in security.

    Protests may be ‘nostalgia’ to some but calling in heavy handed security to remove an occupation is sadly, still, all too modern a reality.

    Reply
  5. What an excellent article. Honestly, the occupation did gather some support but who from? Not the university. Nor the home office. So what effect did you have? Put your hand in your pocket and maybe support his treatment as a much more direct form of aid. Don’t illegally occupy a private building whilst trying to gather the support of the university – who now if anything will have a much firmer stance against the case – activism and criminal activity is not the answer. You have injured members of staff at the university, completely diminishing any bargaining power you may have had in petitioning the university. Who have no power over the law!!! More than one appeal case has been rejected, on the grounds they cannot find a human right establishing that he should stay here. Thus his case will not change, until the law itself changes. As predicted your occupation, has brought some negative publicity to what is actually a sad cause that could be aided physically through donation – not through a disruptive occupation – that wasn’t supported by many students I talked to. Also if you’re going to campaign for his case – actually protest for his case alone. Don’t use it as some platform to share completely unrelated issues you have with the university.

    Reply

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