Statement

Post-Occupation Statement

Last Wednesday, 28th January, we began a peaceful sit-in at the Law and Social Sciences building.  We were moved to act in response to Israel’s attacks against the people of Gaza and the deteriorating humanitarian crisis there, calling for urgent action from our institution. This was one of at least 17 other campus occupations at universities across the country and part of a national movement of solidarity with the people of Gaza.

The Vice Chancellor has issued a statement setting out his position on what has happened (https://my.nottingham.ac.uk/).  Here we wish to outline ours.

Israels’ latest attacks have cost the lives of over 1,300 Palestinians, injuring and maimed many thousands. Tens of thousands of civilians have been left homeless and displaced. Head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency in Gaza, John Ging, is now joining international calls for an investigation into the recent attacks. There is now prima facia evidence that these attacks constituted war crimes as defined under international humanitarian law. In Gaza we are also witnessing the continued systematic denial of basic human rights. We are asking the university to help us work towards assisting in the realisation of the universal right to education for Gaza.

Our university maintains strong ties with arms manufacturers, for example through research funding received from weapons companies such as BAE Systems and the Smiths Group, who supply military equipment to Israel.  Collaboration with companies complicit in war crimes and the systematic denial of fundamental rights is unacceptable, as is their access to our careers events.

We feel that our university’s perceived economic and political support for Israel’s aggression is irreconcilable with our deep concern for the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, in the absence of tangible and meaningful change.  The University of Nottingham has a well-documented history of ignoring student concerns, and we believe that our action –the peaceful occupation of a lecture theatre- was proportionate to the situation.

We stated explicitly in our communications to senior management, on the evening the occupation began, that any disruption of our peer’s education was expressly against our wishes. We made our position very clear, guaranteeing that we would maintain a diminished, strictly silent and unobtrusive presence during lectures.  Throughout the occupation we took steps to ensure that B62 was a fully functional, clean and pleasant learning environment, and used the space to host a number of talks, film screenings, entertainments and events.

The reaction of senior management at Nottingham to our peaceful occupation stands in stark contrast to the approach adopted by almost every other university where similar protests took place.  At Oxford for example, a student occupation of the historic Clarendon Building ended peacefully on the same day it began. Oxford senior management engaged in dialogue from the outset, reaching a mutually satisfactory agreement with the student protesters that meaningfully addressed the concerns they raised about Gaza.  Similar courses of action were undertaken by senior management at other universities.

We received absolutely no communication from university management concerning our demands.  The first response we heard was a statement made to the press approximately 24 hours after the protest began.  Other than that, the only communication from management was a demand to end to our sit-in that did nothing to address or even acknowledge our concerns for Gaza.  Our intention was to open a constructive two-way dialogue with the university.  The only offer of dialogue was made in the same breath that threatened disciplinary action and we were refused this in writing.  Steven Dudderidge offered to “convene a meeting with the full range of relevant campus societies to promote dialogue around the issue of the Middle East and the recent conflict in Gaza“, but failed to state which societies would be involved, how this ‘dialogue’ would be structured, or organised, or what it’s purpose would be, or to make any reference to our demands and specific concerns.  The offer was not considered meaningful and so we chose to continue our protest, thinking that the university would reconsider and adopt a more constructive position.  This was not the case, however.

At approximately 6pm on Sunday 1st February university management issued an ultimatum giving us two minutes notice to leave.  After this, university security entered B62 and used physical force, arm locks, pressure points and verbal aggression to end our protest.  A video of the eviction can be found here.

In the light of past issues pertaining to suppression of the right to protest and curtailment of academic freedom on this campus, we were prepared for a less accommodating response from university management here at Nottingham in comparison to other universities.  We did not, however, anticipate such clear unwillingness to engage in any reasonable discussion or the use of violence to end our peaceful occupation.  This was neither patient nor tolerant, and clearly not the only option that was available to senior management.  Amicable agreements regarding student demands were reached at the vast majority of universities where similar protests took place, but that was not to be so here at Nottingham.

There was a complete lack of transparency in the way the university conducted itself.  The only records we have of their communications are from videos and our transcripts.  During the forced eviction, property was confiscated, significantly a number of cameras.  Our property was held for a number of hours and the curtains to B62 were shut preventing us from seeing what was happening.  Students were only permitted to retrieve their belongings on production of their ID cards, numbers were recorded by security. Further the media were denied access to campus during the eviction.  These are not transparent, professional or reasonable actions.

What our protest has revealed is that the academic space at our university has become a place for the one-way flow of a hegemonic paradigm within a very narrow framework of ‘acceptability’. An academic environment should teach students how to critically engage with important and controversial issues. Disappointingly, the university have proved that they are prepared to resort to violence in order to enforce the depoliticised ‘harmony’ (read conformity) of the campus and silence dissent.

Some of us are from Gaza, some of us are Palestinian refugees and some of us have simply been moved to act out of a strong sense of moral necessity. We believe that it is morally right for us in our privileged positions to take action to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Their plight is our plight.

We welcome the university’s acknowledgment of the need for dialogue concerning the issues we have raised. We hope to engage with the University management in a constructive way to address what have finally been acknowledged as legitimate concerns.  If the university truly ‘remains committed’ to building dialogue, we suggest that our initial concerns may be a useful place to begin.

We believe that the most appropriate way forward is for us as an academic community to actively defend and promote the right to education for people in Gaza.  Through providing scholarships and academic aid, Nottingham University could reach out to those who have been denied this basic right, and go some way towards compensating for our institutions’ silent complicity in the current catastrophe.

We invite everyone, staff and students, who are interested to contact us to help to work towards this goal.  We will continue to assert our right to freedom of expression and assembly. These are the basic building blocks of a democratic society and powerful tools with which we may seek to right injustice and better the world around us.


Next event:

Rally for Gaza: Books not Bombs

Meet at the Top of Portland Hill, everyone welcome!
Friday 2 pm.

Email: occupationnottingham@gmail.com

34 responses to “Statement

  1. Although I recognize that many occupiers are anti-starbucks, inclusion of this issue due to its “CEO has been a public supporter of the Israeli Government policies in the Occupied Territories” is not a legitimate connection to make with regards to this specific protest.
    So he is Pro-Israel, that doesnt mean starbucks funds the IDF, it is his personal view, and to single out starbucks because of this is very sketchy ground indeed, be careful in what you say about starbucks and the situation in Gaza.
    – If, for example, the CEO of a company was a member of the BNP, it would be ethical to boycott that company in protest; the fact that the CEO of Starbucks publicly supports Israels’ brutal policy of occupation, the violation of international law and effectively the mass murder of civilians, is legitimate grounds upon which to boycott Starbucks (along with all the other reasons).

    Removing Starbucks is perhaps less pertinent to the situation in Gaza than some of the other demands. However it is relevant, for the reasons outlined above. On this issue more than any, the university authorities have displayed their shameless prowess in ignoring the wishes of their students. This demand is not in any way contradictory to the purpose of the occupation protest. For all of these reasons, it was included as a demand.

  2. Congratulations to all students in occupation in Nottingham

    Palestinian children are in need
    The UN has appealed for $613 million for Gaza
    ‘The needs are massive’ they say

    Yet the BBC boss Thomson blocks the DEC appeal for Gaza
    Following the 1967 ‘Six day War’ the BBC broadcast the DEC appeal
    Why not broadcast in 2009?

    The tide is turning away from war and occupation
    Towards humanity and justice
    Your demand for the DEC appeal to be broadcast as a podcast is correct

    In Manchester we have projected it onto the side of the BBC building
    And occupied the building demanding it be shown
    Is the refusal to broadcast 3 minutes out of a years progams for
    Palestinian children ‘impartiality’

    Your actions place you on the right side of history
    Like those who marched with King in the South
    And school kids at Sharpville in South Africa

    In Peace Mark Krantz
    With solidarity greetings from
    Greater Manchester Stop the War Coalition

    See our website for video of our occupation

  3. Congratulations guys, keep holding out, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

    Chris (Warwick occupation)

  4. Congratulations on your protest. Apart from its effective diplomatic support for the assault on Gaza, Britain has direct responsibility through selling essential components for F-16 fighter jets and Apache attack helicopters used in the attacks.

    So long as British public institutions continue to look the other way, and the British government continues to provide the means for the destruction of the Palestinians, we have blood on our hands.

    We must end Britain’s complicity in Israel’s crimes, and campaign for an end to the illegal siege of Gaza which is preventing reconstruction.

  5. Just another note of maybe unintentional thoughtlessness of your demands. And before you assume I do tacitly support you in the occupation.However;

    why would we want to establish links with an institution such as the Islamic University of Gaza which embodies everything we all stand against. It seems very odd thinking for self described liberals to wish to associate with a university that is highly illiberal and it highly infused with Hamas ideology, which is a fascist ideology. Do you really want to support an institution that is everything you oppose here in the UK, such as homophobia,sexism,racism, anti-secular ideas (such as their study and promotion of Sharia, which again represents everything you protest against here) and a whole host of other reasons?
    Please dont think becuase they ‘fight’ against the same enemy as you they are on your side, ever heard of the notion ‘the enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend’. Please can you explain this muddled thinking, it does seem like a bit of a betrayal of most peoples values.
    -Rob please take a look at ‘What about Hamas?‘ in on the FAQ section, this might go some way to clarifying the issue for you.

  6. Rob: My thoughts EXACTLY!

  7. “As a student at Nottingham, I can’t say I agree with this. By all means protest what you believe in, but in my opinion, the demands, for the most part, are ludicrous. By asking the University to take a certain political stance is truly incredible in its naivety considering the University represents a multi cultural body of students, most of whom won’t have a strong political stance regarding the conflict in Gaza.”

    Occupation response: We’re asking the university to condemn the mass murder of civilians and to oppose the systematic denial of the right to education (UDHR article 26) for the people of Gaza. It’s really not very controversial.

  8. Olli Van Dongen

    Pathetic. Grow up. No one cares. No ones listening. Stop trying to hold the university to ransom because you have no bargaining power. Israel have a right to do what theyre doing.

    Occupation response: Nobody has a right to murder 400 children; injure thousands of civilians; occupy and appropriate another people and their land; bomb universities, hospitals, schools and UN buildings; use white phosphorous on civilians. You may not care, but some people do. Where’s your basic morality/humanity?

  9. care. and starbucks…?really??? get over it already

    Occupation Response: Thank you for your constructive response. We will ensure your thoughts are registered.

  10. Not being funny, but your demands and your whole protest are pointless in terms of what you plan to achieve. How can the University of Nottingham effect foreign affairs, maybe your should protest outside a local government building to get your point forward and not disrupt students education.

    Occupation Response: Thanks you for your comment Steve, although we beg to differ that our protest is pointless. The University of Nottingham has direct links to the arms trade through its sponsorship by BAE Systems, who designed the F16s and drone craft that were used in the recent Gazan bombardment. As for the University and foreign affairs, our aims are humanitarian. In particular the scholarships, collections and book donations are an attempt to aid those effected by the recent attack, in particular those denied access to education. As for disruption, this protest attempted to cause no disruption to learning and provided and acceptable learning environment – please see Were We Disruptive?
    for more details.

  11. You’re all idiots. How can you expect teaching to continue in a room occupied by a bunch of hippies as even just sitting there peacefully is distracting enough for the students and lecturers.
    Thank you for your sweeping generalisations. We offered to have just two people sat at the back, silently maintaining a symbolic presence during lectures. Two people sat at the back would be distracting for you?

    The university followed all the rules, to the letter, and allowed you to continue your protest for a number of days, which was more than fair enough.
    We were protesting peacefully about a very real, and gross injustice; the systematic flouting of international law; gross human rights violations and the killing of 1300 people (mostly innocent civilians) in just a few weeks. This was about justice for Gaza. The university chose to crush us rather than talk or listen. We remain unconvinced that the situation can be described as ‘fair enough’.

    If you all think being carried out of the lecture theatre by security, because you’re too stubborn to get up and walk, is too forceful or violent then you have a very blurred view of what a ‘forced eviction’ is.
    Its’ true. No one was maimed or killed. Worse things happen in Gaza. However, the process was traumatic for peaceful people who aren’t accustomed to having unwanted physical force used against them. A number of people sustained injuries. You weren’t there, evidently. Perhaps you should reserve judgment on this matter.

  12. Congratulations on your protest. At least there are still some humans in this power relations world! well done
    Our university is now uncovered for its biases like the BBC. another step to revealing the veil!

    Anottingham university students

  13. Once again Pal soc is engaging in disruptive, borderline illegal, activity. There was the wall blocking a pathway to the library, a planned disruption to a public event in Wembley Arena and now, this. All like behaviour emphasises, is the point that you are attention seekers. You aim to cause trouble, rather than aid your the cause you purport to support. I have much sympathy to the regular Palestinian in Gaza, but, your behaviour is shaming their plight. I hope the trouble makers are dealt with harsh, so a precedent is not set.

    Occupation Response: Thank you for your comment Jamie. The vast majority of the protesters were not members of Pal Soc. A number of protesters were from Gaza itself, so I believe they had a decent impression of what behaviour does or does not shame those on the Gaza strip. The aim was crystal clear and suprisingly trouble was not it.

  14. “If, for example, the CEO of a company was a member of the BNP, it would be ethical to boycott that company in protest”

    Not really, the personal views of the CEO is his or hers, this is not an ethical question. Instead you target a company (for this protest at least as I know there are many other good and legit reasons to boycott) because the CEO supports Israel, why dont you boycott anything by anyone who speaks of Israel in a positive way. Starting with JSOC and every other public company or person who has leant verbal support to Israel. People are entitled to their beliefs, when would the boycotting stop, would you boycott companies and corner shops is you knew that the owner voted for Labour and thus tacitly supported the Iraq war. Is boycotting a corner shop because the owner has some illiberal views on Homosexuality? Where does it stop, to me it seems you are picking on starbucks in this and are making a very vague and unjustified link.

    Occupation Response: Where does it stop? Wherever you conscience allows.

  15. Seriously, what do you lot expect to achieve? It’s a joke. No one cares what you pathetic little people think or do. You will have no impact on anything, all you are doing is annoying other students. Sort it out you alternative rats.

    Occupation Response: Thank you for your comment Eddy. Our list of demands shows what we wanted to achieve, but more broadly we simply wanted to highlight the humanitarian plight of the Gazan people, raise money and create debate. Had you come down to the occupation, hopefully you would have seen that our intention was not at all to “annoy people”, please also see Were We Disruptive?

  16. boring, y0u obviously achieved so much as hardly anyone heard or even new about this

    Occcupation Nottingham: Thank you for your kind comment Max. Clearly, no one “new” (sic) about this – not the national media, not the local media, and certainly not the people who made 32,141 page impressions during the occupation, averaging 5,084 hits a day.

  17. Go and study if you want to change the world

    Occupation Response: We are studying.

  18. Presumably you have no reservations about the firing of thousands of rockets into Israel ?

    Presumably you also support any anti-semitic behaviour – past and present ?

    Do two wrongs make things right?

    Occupation Response: Please see our statement What About Hamas?

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  20. I thought this quote was especially relevant and inspiring….

    “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    Quote from Margret Mead

  21. Well done on raising the political consciousness of the university, and on pushing the importance of humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. I think that the demand for the University to condemn Israel’s attacks is not appropriate however. This calls for a highly politicised stance on behalf of the institution: I believe you are completely right that the attacks should be condemned by students as individuals or collectively through the Student Union, but asking the Uni to do it too is highly problematic. Not because of what it does say (I don’t think it’s highly controversial to condemn the military operation) but becasue of what it omits; Israel’s is not the only military action that should be condemned…what about condemning China’s actions against the Tibetans? (this could make relations with Nottingham’s Ningbo Campus a bit tricky…)What about condemning Mugabe’s actions against his own people? not to mention the countless other abuses of human rights that are occurring all over the planet today? I take your point about BAE systems and the University’s complicity in this respect, but I am sure that the Israeli air force are not the sole customers of BAE. Without asking the University to distance themselves from all the armed conflicts that are abetted by its sponsors, the cry for it to condemn Israel seems biased. Also, I hope it goes without saying that the statement ‘condemning Israel’ should refer specifically to ‘condemning Israeli military policy in Gaza’; I think that unfortunately for many people the statement would give the impression of a wholesale hostility to Israel and it’s people (including its 1.5 million Arab citizens) that obscures the essentially humanitarian concerns that a student protest for the people of Gaza should be about.

    Occupation response: Thanks for your thoughts Sarah. I agree that all injustice and oppression should be condemned. The people involved in this protest are particularly concerned about Gaza for a number of reasons. Firstly everyone has particular focuses or issues that they care about or campaign about. In the case of Occupation Nottingham, everyone is united in concern for the injustices visited on the people of Gaza. It’s unreasonable to expect people who campaign on one or a few specific injustices to therefore campaign on every injustice. Having said that I know many activists who do campaign on a multitude of issues; but this is very draining and can sometimes lead to burn-out and depression. Activism needs to be sustainable. What is needed is more of the people who currently do nothing, to become politically active and campaign on other issues and injustices. Then collectively we could address all injustices. Secondly the urgency of the situation in Gaza is very pressing in the wake of Israels’ attacks, in terms of the scale of the humanitarian crisis. Thirdly, the issue of Gaza is highly relevant to the UK though the tacit diplomatic and military support provided to Israel by the British establishment (which our university is a component part of).

    BAE’s Hawk jets were used by Mugabe in the Congo, Pinochet to mount his military coup in Chile, and were sold to Indonesia and used in the genocide in East Timor. BAE arm Israel and are an awful company through and through.
    Our first demand asked the university to “issue a statement condemning the recent and continuing atrocities perpetrated by Israel in the Gaza Strip”.

  22. You lot are honestly pathetic, today I read one of the flyers you snivelling bunch of Daily Mail reading, lentil eating idiots have left posted arount University.

    Occupation Response: Thank you for your comments James, I’m not sure why lentil eaters would be reading the Daily Mail, but I will soldier on through your wonderfully polemic comment.

    You claim that the University supports arms dealers, such as BAE Systems becasue they accept funding from them. Did you ever stop to think that without the large amounts of funding University receives it could carry out any of the reasearch work it does or be one of the best Universities in the country?

    Yes, of course we stopped to think, at all times, and about everything. I am sure the University’s place as top “reasearch (sic)” establishment would remain in the absence of taking money from arms companies, which provides only an element of its income. It also misrepresents how the research funding works. Yet there is obviously a deeper question moral question which is what we are hoping to address – is it acceptable for an educational institution to recieve money from arms companies at all? Even if I grant you that they “need the money”, which I do not, then is it acceptable to just plain take money from anywhere you fancy, no matter how morally dubious that source is?

    Did you honestly think that by sitting in a room and not moving you could make a change at all? Perhaps the next time you decide to go out attention seeking you could whinge about something that people are genuinely concerned about and not find all possible ways to discredit an organisation over an issue that won’t change and probably never will, I bet you could even find some way to make the carebears look like genocidal war criminals if you tried hard enough.

    No, carebears are okay, though Grumpy Bear was somewhat irritating. People are genuinely and deeply concerned about Gaza as the widespread protests against the BBC and outcry over the attacks has show. It is absolutely plain. As for attention seeking, we were seeking attention, not for ourselves, but for the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the University’s role in it.

  23. Stop repeating and get talking. The University management offered an open debate from all sides on the topic of Gaza. Take them up on it. People will respect your cause more if it’s heard democratically. Show your willingness to negotiate, to debate, to accept criticism. It’s really how you should have done things in the first place.

    Occupation Response: Thank you very much for your response, we are glad to respond to it! The University aren’t talking to us, the University’s offer responded to nothing we were asking for, was merely a token gesture, had no details as to what this would entail (what was offered was not an open debate, but The University weren’t open to negotiate, to debate, to accept criticism (of it’s unethical investors, for example). Moreover, there will be an open debate from all sides (and we have helped set up a number in future), and the space we claimed was intended as a free space for both dialogue and debate (more on that in a moment). We from the absolute outside showed a willingness to negotiate with the University management and any other person, and were ready to debate and accept criticism, but more of this in a moment. As a final point, when there is a real and serious humanitarian crisis, there is a point where debate has to end and action has to start – debate must not be an excuse to end at mere words.

    Some questions. Did you ever think you’d encounter this much criticism? Can you understand your critics’ points of view? Will you actually publish this comment? (You never published my last one. How’s that for free speech…)

    Yes, but you seem to forget we’ve also encountered (inter)national support and will have supportive articles in the national press. We fully understand our critics point of view and spent much time discussing this point of view during the occupation. Indeed, since the decisions in this occupation were made by consensus, you could have been part of that process if you truely cared! If we didn’t publish your comment it is not because we are supressing your right to free speech, but because we don’t as people have time to reply to all of comments we get, though we try our best, especially when comments are directly critical of our actions and hence deserve our reflection and the dignity of a careful response (one could point this out to the University!). It took me more than half a hour or so to read your response, think about it and write this. In addition, it is very trying to have to repeat oneself endlessly.

    It takes some people a long time to realise that having someone disagree with you is not a bad thing, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that they dislike you or that they are ignorant, wrong, or a horrible person. Coming to respect the right of someone to have an differing opinion – no matter how unbelievable or unacceptable you find them – is key to working towards a common goal. Things are hardly ever black and white.

    Read our first statement – we fully realise people will disagree and have the right to disagree, and wished the space of B62 to be a place of discourse, almost especially with those who do not share our viewpoint. Again, why didn’t you come down through the open doors and have a chat with us? It is quite remarkable you think us as such dogmatic, close-minded and honestly stupid – we are in favour of critical, incisive debate. Of course things are “hardly ever black and white”, a statement that is so obvious that it is almost banal, no one, at any point was denying the moral complexity of situations, and there was as great deal of debate. Again, we aren’t stupid. We are not dogmatic, and it is odd for you to paint us as such.

    I really hope to see peaceful, balanced public debates in the aftermath of this protest. For, against, ‘establishment,’ ‘activist.’ You’re all a part of this University community – let everyone’s opinions be valued. And damn well publish my comment!

    Please do not imply this protest was not peaceful – it was absolutely and totally from the outset and remained so until the end. As I have said previously, we intended the space to be precisely one of discussion and debate, a entirely public and free space, and indeed, intended, before we were rudely ejected, to have precisely the kind of debates you describe – it was all in the process of being planned. Everyone’s opinion was valued, and I wish you would stop saying otherwise. As a technical point, our decision making process during the occupation was one of consensus (ie everyone must agree), which is a process designed specifically to ensure everyone’s opinion is valued, and indeed, everyone’s opinion is equal. It is precisely because we are part of the University community that we feel the need to speak up, because, as part of the University community, we as members find it difficult to accept a) the situation in Gaza and b) the actions of the University that accept money for arms companies whose weapons are involved in this situation. Yet while we sought and still seek a free space of exchange, one must not endlessly seek in favour of a ‘balanced’ debate at the risk of being uncritical when the grounds for the debate, despite their purported neutrality, are already unbalanced. And if I may be permitted to continue to wax philosophical, one must no pursue ‘balance’ to the point that all actual and real differences in opinion are erased to form a worthless ‘middle ground’ that goes no where and establishes nothing.

  24. It’s interesting to see how strong some people’s emotional reactions are to both the occupation (which they are very quick to dismiss as an irritant and a waste of time) and the university response (which some people seem to take an almost sadistic delight in approving of).

    The mentality here seems to be that safety, security and normality are paramount values. Infractions of these are a moral threat, which is simultaneously “trivial”, “stupid”, “idiotic”, “pointless” etc., and serious and disturbing enough to entirely merit an intransigent and violent response.

    As frustrating as it is to encounter such narrow-mindedness and kneejerk authoritarianism (“sort it out you alternative rats”!), it tells its own story about the effectiveness with which a safety ethic has been instilled in students and the wider population.

    This ethic is entirely depoliticising; it views others as a source of potential risk and disruption, and solidarity with those who are involved in political struggles as inherently suspect. They should instead be treated as objects of charity, the primary reflex through which a safety-oriented society deals with suffering and oppression. Why aren’t you out shaking a tin, instead of complaining uselessly about things no-one can possibly hope to change? Where are your red noses?

    This goes beyond apathy; it is the politics of fear, which masks its phantasmatic terrors with stupefying condescension and a brittle, quasi-religious belief in the invulnerability of the status quo. To the fearful, nothing is more frightening, more deserving of instant suppression and dismissal, than actions which suspend this condescension and threaten this belief.

    The reason why I am convinced that actions such as the Nottingham occupation are positive and necessary is that they break the stranglehold of fear, refuse the assumption of political impotence, and act at a distance from the pacifying mechanisms through which “business as usual” is conducted with the usual invariant amorality. That they do so in a spirit of principled non-violence, establishing a duration in which peaceful discussion and collective decision-making can occur, is very much to their credit. Let the fearful sneer, while simultaneously yelling for the cops. It is for them to show, in their own time, that it is not all they are capable of.

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  27. Grow up. Why are you spending your time and energy writing up about how ‘badly’ you have been treated on a web-site? You are spoilt, priviledged, educated people who should be putting your time and energy into doing something practical and constructive to create awareness about and help the situation in Gaza instead of whining on about how you were removed from a lecture theatre after a silly little protest that no-one cares about. I feel embarrassed for you.

    Thank you for your comment Izzy. This, like the other occupations throughout the country, aimed at ‘practical’ goals (scholarships, aid, space for fundraising – all of them) that were constructive (how were they anything but constructive) and the whole occupation has created an unprecedented level of debate over the situation in Gaza and the middle east around campus. Our ‘silly little protest’ is part of a national, nay, international movement for a hugely serious cause. We have made every effort to ensure that the focus remains on Gaza, as we hope will be clear as the campaign unfolds, yet there was a need for accusations made against us to be responded to as I hope you will agree.

  28. James, ‘lentil eating idiots’? Seriously? That is the biggest.. wait… ONLY food grudge I have ever seen!

    All my thoughts go to the Occupation’s Responders who have to endure reading the offensively opposing and filthy worded views and the even more painful process of replying to them.

  29. You all deserve a lot of credit for this response. Not only does it keep focus on what is important (the atrocity in Gaza and the University’s role in that), but it does so with intelligence, grace and an even-handedness rarely seen in political debate. That this hasn’t been recognized by the largely crass, unintelligent and reactionary comments above is sad. How does one reach them and touch their conscience? How does one touch and provoke the conscience of the contemporary British student?

    Thank you for your kind words. We should note that the comments above are out weighed vastly by the messages of support sent directly to us.

  30. Thank you for replying to my comment. I never once said that you were stupid, nor dogmatic. Can I refer you to the post-protest Impact article, which summarises a lot of people’s criticisms of your actions (NOT your cause, which I and many others support.)

    Thank you for your continued correspondance Mike. The author of that article wrote to us personally to make us aware of its existence. There is an excellent comment on the article by someone else called Mike which makes a clear case why a number of its assumptions and conclusions are false.

    The reason I “didn’t care” enough to come to the protest is because I’m not actually a Nottingham student any more. I live in London and work full time. Apologies if that means I don’t care about Gaza enough to contribute.

    “The University aren’t talking to us” is a pretty feeble excuse for not initiating discussions.

    Every attempt was made to intiate discussions. Discussions between the university management and an occupation took place at Oxford University, Bradford, Essex, Warwick, Leeds, Queen Mary, LSE etc etc – perhaps one should refocus the question as to why our institution considers itself above such things, whereas other excellent institutions are more than capable and indeed, in the case of Strathclyde, close the occupation in a matter of hours as a result.

    I’m giving up. You’re students. I suppose you’re allowed to act childishly and ‘demand’ immediate change instead of negotiating change.

    Please refer to the previous answer and the remainder of this website.

    I’ll just go back to fundraising for Gaza, instead of arguing for/against students/universities. Maybe I just live in the real world. Where degrees and lecture theatres mean very little.
    Ahh yes, the infamous “real world”. It is our contention
    I fully expect this comment to be never published, or covered in ‘response.’ Do what you like. It’s the Gazans I care about.

    If you make direct criticisms, it is our duty to respond. We hope that this treats your thoughts with the dignity that they deserve. If you don’t want us to respond, then don’t make criticisms on our website. Perhaps instead you should make them in the ‘real world’ that you refer so much to.

  31. Hello,

    I’m a student at Nottingham University and I’d like to express my appreciation at the way the occupation of room B62 was handled. Having read your views, the views of the vice chancellor and most available accounts of what went on, I can only conclude that you guys have some kind of persecution complex.

    Dear Nathan, thank you for your comment. I am not sure we have a persecution complex, but I am fairly sure the pop psychologising our actions is not an attempt at ‘constructive dialogue’.

    To invade and occupy a room used for regularly for lectures, then to issue a series of ridiculous demands which, unless you are incredibly stupid, you knew would never be agreed to serves only to cause trouble and nothing more. You weren’t looking for open debate about anything, they were trying to make the university look bad by forcing you to remove them with force.

    We were absolutely crystal clear about our intentions and they were not to ’cause trouble’ unless causing trouble means ‘highlighting an issue of major concern’. Open debate was encouraged, indeed, all our decisions were reached by consensus, which is, to my mind, the process most open to debate possible.

    You failed. Miserably. You admit on your own site that they offered them a discourse and you refused it, why were you then surprised when you were given an ultimatum to leave? Why were you then surprised when you were removed forcibly when you wouldn’t leave on your own?

    Oxford University, Bradford, Essex, Warwick, Leeds, Queen Mary, LSE etc, indeed, the vast majority of other institutions involved in protest, were all offered discussion without the threat of disciplinary action, discussion on the terms of their own demands, rather than on some vague and spurious future ‘attempt to foster dialogue’ and meeting ‘convening’ by the University management. And yes, we were surprised by the level of force used by a university against it’s own students, as far as we are aware, unprecedented in this wave of student protest.

    I’m glad you were ejected with force when you refused to act reasonably, having been offered a chance at constructive discussion. People like you don’t want to discuss things, you want to feel like you’re being oppressed by the man.

    We made every effort to discuss things, both with the university management, our peers and internally within the group, as has been repeat ad nauseum throughout this site.

    I just wish that people with the energy for things like this would put it towards something constructive.

    This is absolutely baffling to me. Perhaps you could spend time doing something more constructive than writing critiques on websites that have been responded to, at length, several times?

  32. You keep on claiming that you made “every effort” to discuss things, yet you had an offer of meeting and discussion from the vice chancellor himself. You turned his offer down and forced them to remove you from the room because you were unwilling to listen to reason.

    Please see my previous response: plainly we were not offered a meeting with the vice-chancellor on the terms you describe and were not offered the chance to discuss our specific concerns (though, the University, unlike others, failed to give us anything in writing – the only reason we have any memory of what was offered was because we filmed it – this is hardly a discussion). The statement above makes all of this quite clear – we had hoped that the university would open real dialogue. As pointed out previously, this is in stark contrast to other excellent academic institutions around the country and this is surely cause for some concern.

    As you say, many other universities managed to get a positive response, but you failed. Coincidence? Seems to me that it’s something to do with the way you handled things.

    Let us examine this logically – numerous other universities have exactly the same style of protest (our protest was modelled after them), and ask for almost identical things from their university and many get the vast majority of their demands met. The type of protest is common and the demands, the different factor is not us, but the university with which we are dealing.

    You find it baffling that I advise you to do something more constructive, but then you give me the same advice? I’ll stop wasting my time as soon as you do.

    Ditto.

  33. Wow, guys I’m impressed you actually answered all those offensive comments. I don’t think I would have dignified them with an answer. Only people with weak arguments have to resort to insults!

  34. Hi Guys

    I appreciate you guys opening dialogue with everyone on this. Even to those just out to insult without understanding.

    Thank you for your comment Stephen. I have replied to it in detail, but must note that the answers to your questions have already been made throughout this site.

    Having read all the discussion on your website, and that provided by the university, and having spoken to a few people about this, I’m afraid I don’t really think that your protest was the best way to open dialogue on this subject. By issuing ‘Demands’ you immediately created a ‘Them and Us’ mentality. That will have created a barrier to be over come. I also think that by including the point to ‘Remove Starbucks’ you also lost support from some of the student body, who will have dismissed you as, ‘more hippy protesters’ rather than students with serious concerns.

    I believe it could be persuasively argued that The University of Nottingham did more to create an “us and them” mentality in stark contrast to other universities across the country- of the seventeen universities in the UK that have occupied, our University is in the vast minority by choosing not to either directly address the concerns of the protesters or capitulate to any of the demands made, and this list includes Oxford, LSE, Srathclyde, Kings College etc. The occupiers themselves created an inclusive space and made every attempt to prevent it becoming one of “us and them”, the situation in Gaza was the primary concern, not facing off against university management, other than raising awkward questions with regard to their involvement with the arms trade. The conduct of the campaign since the occupation in moving the emphasis back to Gaza hopefully displays this. The barrier to overcome asks for things that are necessary and this protest would have been fairly useless without them. As for ‘more hippy protesters’ I’m sure you’ll agree, this represents simply a failure of the imagination.

    Whilst I think that the execution of the order to remove you from B62 may have been heavy handed, you need to remember that this is a university where people have come to learn. UoN gave you a decent amount of time for your protest, and ending it when they did seems like a reasonable thing to do. Alas just the mere presence of the protest disrupts learning, even if it is just 2 students sat at the back of a lecture theatre. You had achieved your goal of creating awareness.

    At the risk of being rude, what is remarkable about your comment at this point is the way it pivots between two contradictory positions. One one hand the removal as heavy handed, and on the other it was entirely reasonable. As I have mentioned previously, the University had many other options available to it, the sense of inevitability assigned by some to “the university HAD to put it’s students in arm locks and drag them into the snow” is odd. As for two students disrupting learning, again, let us imagine the speculative scenario that you had a particularly interesting lecture and invited two friends along – would this really disturb the learning of others, when in the lecture environment, learning consists only in actively listening? It should be noted that not only were lecturers happy to teach in this environment in correspondence with us, but similar schemes of minimal presence operated in the University of Sussex among other institutions.

    My final point is about opening discourse with the university. If you were not having much success liaising directly with UoN, why did you not contact the Students Union, whose primary responsibility is to campaign on behalf of students. They would have been better placed (with pre-established contacts with UoN staff) to help you with this goal, or at the very least mediate between yourselves and the University.

    We were in contact constantly with the SU.

    Thank you for reading (sorry about the length!)

    Stephen

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