Students from University of Brighton go into occupation
Students from the University of Brighton began an occupation of one of the university’s buildings on Wednesday 24 November.
The occupation of G7 Pavilion Parade, started after the march in Brighton, which involved an estimated 2,500 people, mainly students protesting against national cuts to higher education.
The occupiers expressed their support for other occupations elsewhere, “we are both acting in solidarity with other occupiers around the world, and placing demands on the Senior Management Team of University of Brighton.”
Demands included: “The Vice Chancellor to release a public statement both supporting student protests, and condemning the attacks on education, no victimisation or disciplinary action against anyone involved in anti-cuts protests and/or occupation and make all university finances transparent; make any planned cuts public” amongst many more demands on a local and national scale against higher education cuts.
Occupiers explained that though “planning had taken place, flexibility was also required.”
During the occupation, there have been many talks and debates held for members of the public and students from universities and schools, three times a day. The group particularly expressed their wish to fill the room in the evening.
There was an open mic night on Friday 26 November and on Monday 29, the occupation hosted John Redford from Brighton Stop the Cuts Coalition.
On the same day, Green Party leader and MP for Brighton Pavilion, Caroline Lucas showed her support for the occupation, giving a talk to nearly 100 attendees. Lucas stressed the importance of equal access to education saying that “if tuition fees rise then people will not be able to receive the education the decision makers had access to.”
Pavilion Parade lies close to the heart of town and the organisers spoke of the locals’ support: “The response has been staggering. We’ve had so many donations from so many different people; not just food and money (both crucial) but skills that people have been willing to spend the time sharing.”
“One of the advantages of being in the centre of town is that we’ve really felt part of the local community.”
The University of Brighton Students’ Union said that it “believes strongly in students’ right to protest peacefully and ensure that their voice is heard. The occupation of Pavilion Parade starting on Wednesday 24 November is an example of this peaceful protest.”
The union offered their “support for the students who have occupied the building and continue to show their distain towards the proposed cuts to education and proposed hike in the cost of education.
“The Students’ Union has traditionally had the stance that protests should not be condemned nor supported with full SU backing however in this instance it has been decided to fully support the actions of the students.
“The protest and subsequent occupation of university buildings has been done in a peaceful, professional and in a respectful way and, for that, the students involved should be pleased and praised.”
The occupation has even received support from the Arab American University-Jenin in Palestine.