Wow, never been this tired. What. A. Month.

The camp was packed up in the early hours of today, it was felt that with everyone at uni finished, the meeting having taken place, and having been there a month that it was time to leave.

We had a gorgeous little party, and a great month even though it was also really stressful and exhausting at times. Met so many great people and learnt so much. Anyway i’m not gonna go into details because

1 i’m knackered, we all are. Come to think of it, we have yet to explain the meeting that took place with management. We will go into details when less tired but the long and short of it is that it was throughly unsatisfying.

2 this is all contained artistically within the extremely imperfect yet sort of quite nice DIY zine we threw together yesterday afternoon and we’d much rather you got a copy of that – please send an email entitled ‘zine’ to occupybrookes@gmail.com to get your hands on a copy

Thanks so much to everyone who has made the Occupation so special and who, through their words, actions and material contributions has sustained the occupation for this amount of time – we never anticipated it lasting this long and could not have done it without your support.

‘Peace’

xo

So, i’d like to give you an update and i’d like to clear something up.

Firstly, at long last we have been given an official oppurtunity to meet with the Vice Chancellor and other members of senior management. The meeting was offered to us yesterday for any time on Wednesday before 3:30pm – we choose 2pm. Five of the core occupiers will be listening to their arguments (which they have not yet put forward in written form as was requested on the 19th of April when we sent them our original letter), and hopefully they will also listen to ours and it won’t just be lipservice. We will of course keep you updated on the outcome 🙂

The meeting will be followed by a demonstration at 4pm outside the main reception (after 2pm exams are done) – we hope it will be celebratory in nature, but failing that we will have a good old protest! Please come, bring yourself, banners, and anything noisy.

As for this rumour that is being spread that we have turned down numerous attempts by senior management to meet with us, presumabley to make us look unreasonable, this is obviously not true. There was one incident, early in the campaign, where the vice chancellor’s (Janet Beer’s) secretary came out and told us “Janet’s got back to back meetings until July. But she’s just had a cancellation and can have a chat with you now if you want”. With literally no warning, and with some of our core occupiers in lectures at the time, we declined, stating that we thought it right that we be given acceptable notice, time to discuss as a group and to prepare in the proper way – needless to say she was not overly impressed by this and that was the only time that any sort of an offer was made.

Having camped out for four weeks (it’s just gone midnight so it’s now precisely four weeks!) in the worst imaginable weather and somehow juggling exams and coursework, we do think that the least we deserved was a proper written response, followed by a meeting, but hey, maybe that’s our ‘cuckoo’ ultra-leftist brains going crazy again ;-p (see Paul Mason’s comment in the previous post!!). Anywho, that’s what really happened, or didn’t happen as the case may be.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow (today), we will do our best. Thanks so much for the ongoing support that everyone is giving, it really is the best feeling when so many people want to help the campaign to win.

❤

Some student unions are political, others less so but put on great clubnights and events. Well we know the latter is a no-go since we don’t even have a union bar anymore, but what about their politics?

Pierre fills us in…

Last week we had the (chorate) Student Union AGM and I presented my barrage of 12 motions. Normally this is how Student Union politics should work, students submit motions, they get voted on, which then determines Student Union policy. Except that I was the only person to submit and speak to my motions, and only ~20 people turned up to the reconvened AGM (many of the people we elected to the SU didn’t even bother to attend).

This is problematic, and it shows that the Student Union has an ‘outreach problem’. Other than announcing it on their facebook wall two days before it happened there was nothing. There was supposed to be an email going out to all students reminding them that the AGM was taking place last week. No such email was sent. Staff at the SU have been contacted via email regarding their complete failure to inform students of this one oppurtunity for democratic input but have failed to reply – somewhat of a trend in this university is to simply ignore any trouble maker who has the gall to hold them to account… (post on the Occupy Brookes movement as a whole to follow…)

Now, we could just put this down to general incompetence, but I want to argue that the Students Union actively manufactures apathy among the student body by refusing to politicise them.

When we organised for the November 9th protest there were excuses deployed for why the Student Union wouldn’t officially endorse it. This is hardly surprising given that our current president, Paul Mason, is a self-confessed Conservative, UKIP supporter, and believes that we should “work with the government” and should not “continue to keep going out on demonstrations”. In the AGM he actually condemned all the student demonstrations that took place in London against tuition fees (which includes many Brookes students) in the run up to the white paper, stating that they should have been studying rather than protesting, and he voted against the proposed motion of fighting fees and of supporting the rights of students to protest.

By taking a professed ‘apolitical’ stance the SU actually just rolls over to accept the status-quo, in doing so it implicitly supports the dominant ideology and the dominant discourse. Taken further the SU is hostile to any form of student political engagement.

At the first Student Council meeting I attended I was told that the SU ‘doesn’t do motions’, and that if I wanted something done I’d just have to talk to one of the sabbatical officers and see what they said. As explained above, when the elected officers disagree there’s not much we can do. Motions and formal democratic processes allow us to keep the union to account.

I introduced a motion on solidarity with the University and College Union when they take action over pensions. Well, 8 days later the lecturers went on strike, I was on the picket lines and the Student Union were nowhere to be seen. This tells us a lot about our union, but far less about students.

Students are not inherently apathetic. In just a few hours 100s of students signed the petition to scrap fee waivers, and we actually had to stop because we ran out of paper, having ourselves underestimated the level of support (incidentally, we do need more signatures and anyone who could help us with petitioning would be much appreciated!).

When you actually talk to students you will see that they do care, some protest, some sign petitions, some start campaign-based societies of which Brookes has many, some support movements from the sidelines by donating time, skills, food, drink, contacts, solidarity, and as Occupy Brookes has shown, some even camp out in the rain for three and a half weeks (and still going).

Despite all the criticisms in this post the Student Union is actually a really strong force for change and in the right hands can be used to effectively mobilise students. Sure, we can organise grassroots campaigns, but the SU has a headquarters and paid staff and a relatively massive budget, all of which is out of our grasp as a self-organised group of students.
If the SU had the motivation to act, here are two fairly moderate suggestions to get it started:

  • When students in other countries are persecuted, it should speak out on their behalf. When students in the UK are persecuted, again, it should speak up.
  • Take an active role in events like International Students Day, International Womens Day, or May Day.

We are all members of our SU and we all pay their salaries. We are told our SU is there to “represent, support, and inspire” us – they need to make good on their promise.

Hi there,

The previous blog post told you to sign the petition but did not tell you how – this is what’s wrong with horizontal movements I guess!

Anyway, here it is! http://www.change.org/petitions/oxford-brookes-university-scrap-fee-waivers-at-brookes?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=share_button_modal

Would be great if you could sign it and share it around as much as possible. We need to get loads of signatures by next Monday so that we can present it to the Senior Management Team ahead of their meeting on Thursday where their proposals will be presented to the board of governors.

Thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign thus far, we would not have lasted this long if it weren’t for you – everyone who has come for a chat, signed the petition, played a song, leant us tents, sleeping bags, roll mats, who has given us money, food, even cooked for the occupiers! You’re all incredible.

It’s not over yet but the weather and exams and deadlines are quite a strain – we need you to make it strong. Whether sharing the petition with friends or actually coming and pitching a tent, your input could make or break the campaign in this critical week so don’t be shy!

xxxxx

As the occupation enters its third week, university management is still not agreeing to hold a meeting with us regarding the fee waivers and bursaries issue! We are hoping that will soon change…

Thanks for all the continuing support and if you haven’t already, SIGN THE PETITION!!

 

 

edit: here it is! http://www.change.org/petitions/oxford-brookes-university-scrap-fee-waivers-at-brookes?utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=share_button_modal

please don’t sign it if you have already signed the paper one 🙂

So we’ve made it to Day Ten, the first milestone under our post-Occupation Revolutionary Metric Calendar!!* And we’re also celebrating ten days of consecutive rain!! So it would probably be fair to assume that it was our occupation that brought the deluge to Oxford, and we can only apologise for the biblical levels of water that have been blighting us all of late.

So what’s been going on at the camp? Well, yesterday we had a fantastic lecture from Dr. Simon Underwood entitled “Why do men have nipples?: Human evolution in thirty minutes”. He explained so much so thoroughly that it made us wonder how come nature took so long! I suppose the only answer is that Dr. Underwood is in fact an omniscient being.

Today we had Kate Byard-Pennington running a bunting-making workshop, so our site is about 100% more beautiful, and we also had a visit from a group of Brookes Architecture graduates who built the willow structure that we’re currently using as our central tent. They said that they were really pleased that their structure was being put to such good use, and allayed our concerns that we might be doing it any damage. At the risk of being incredibly hippie-ish, it’s really cool to be staying a structure that is actually alive and growing around us!

* this is a joke. Calm down.

Hi hoo happy campers!

(I still can’t get over how brilliant it is to be able to wake up exactly one minute before needing to be at university. A quick stretch, a splash of water on the face, and – with toothpaste on the chin – I am in the library at not a minute past 9… Joy.)

I feel I must tell you about yesterday, which was a truely beautiful day at camp.

At 10am a news team arrived from London. They stayed with us throughout the day, interviewing occupiers, staff, and passers by, catching a First Aid workshop at 11, a performance by the Fortune Players in the afternoon, and an upcycling workshop of lantern-making led by Alex (the lanterns are beautiful and can be seen floating around the camp). The news team even tried to catch the Vice Chancellor herself! But with little success…

Music. Now this is what makes me smile when I think of day 6. As you know, there were a number of events going on throughout the day (we are always looking for more so if anyone has anything they would like to perfom/teach/talk about that would be wonderful! Email occupybrookes@gmail.com and we will put you on the calendar!), but perhaps the most smile inducing of events was the performance by the Fortune Players (a group of students putting on a musical at the university this week), which coincided exactly with the arrival of our much missed round and yellow friend.

Oh how we’ve missed you… But you came back!! And just in time.

Picture this: a group of 10ish singers, boys and girls, one guitar, flowery dresses, a bandana (I haven’t seen one of those since the nineties!!), an audience of smiling occupiers, and the sweet melody of various sound treats from the musical HAIR. All on the grass, with the cameras rollin’ and people strollin’ by with twitching ears.

It was beautiful.

That aside, we received a reply from the Vice Chancellor’s secretary! The VC is ‘busy until mid July’. Hmmm. We will see about that. And many visitors throughout the day.

Best of wishes,

Over and out and shake it all about!