It has come to our attention that the University has preemptively placed restrictions on staff and student activity in the Aston Webb building in response to the National Coalition Against Fees and Cuts Day of Action.
We can only presume that they have done so to prevent any direct action by Stop Fees and Cuts. In so doing they have created more disruption to students and staff than any action by us would have done and incurred unnecessary costs to themselves.
We had not planned any actions for the day and informed the university that we were going to do nothing in attempt to save them money.
nevertheless the University now will have to pay security costs and will have inconvenienced many of its members.
We hope the University administration , after all the trouble will reconsider the unnecessary cuts they are making to the detriment of the education and livelihoods of students and employees at Birmingham.
We are, however, far from happy at the disruption their actions will cause to the educations of students whose futures are our primary motivation for all our actions.
Other universities manage to handle protests and occupations by students without causing such disruption. Over the past months the University has become very familiar with our methods and must surely realise that we have never acted to harm people or property and carry out direct actions with the view to causing minimal disruption to the normal activities of the University. We hope that people will note that the common feature of any inconvenience caused by political protests on campus, real or imagined, is not the actions of protestors, but the grossly heavy-handed reactions of the administration. This latest example comes after the University sent in security to violently break up a peaceful occupation and, subsequently, starting disciplinary proceedings (later abandoned) against any politically active students in the vicinity; expended large amounts of its own money on policing and surveillance of a protest consisting of a dozen or so students, many with disabilities and, perhaps most ridiculously, preemptively locking down the site of the above mentioned occupation to prevent reprisals on the day of disciplinary interviews, predicated on the fire hazard caused by blocking the same room.
We are at a loss to explain why the University management acts to its own detriment in these ways. The only possible explanation is that they fear the increased attention these protests draw to their running of the University . As well they might. The Vice Chancellor is the most well paid in the country, receiving £392, 000 last year, an increase of 11% on the year before. 97 staff now earn more than £100,000 a year and increase from 28 in 2000, this year alone management pay increases have cost £1.3 million pounds to students. At the same time support staff earning little more than minimum wage are receiving real term pay cuts. Relations between academic staff and management have deteriorated to the extent that they are considering strike action. Senior management has responded by, cynically, feigning concern for the effect this will have on students’ education, whilst cutting funding of departments with some even facing closure. All this has happened despite the University running a surplus. Not to mention that Vice Chancellor David Eastwood sat on the Browne Review, which recommended unlimited tuition fees, and has since been cheerleading these measures in the media.
We will continue to hold the management of the University to account in spite of their aggressive reaction and invite others to join us.