Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Students face disciplinary action after protest

please sign our petition we need your help 

Ten University of Birmingham students are facing disciplinary action that could lead to expulsion after a peaceful sit-in that ended with forceful eviction by university security and the police.
The University has seemingly singled out students who they perceive to be politically active in an attempt to victimise them. Twenty-five students participated in the occupation; ten students are facing disciplinary procedures including one who was not even involved. The hearings will take place on Wednesday, 2nd February.

The students cannot graduate until the matter is resolved and it may affect their career prospects. Lucy Whalley, a final-year physics student says “I want to apply for PGCE after I graduate but this is holding me back and I cannot apply until this matter is resolved”.
A number of students were injured by the police and security in the eviction and are reported to be pressing charges.

David Owen, a second-year theology student, whose departmental staff have already been reduced by a third, says “The doors were opened, three security staff wrenched their way into the room. I stood and linked arms with two other men to create a human blockade in peaceful protest, at which point the tables were kicked towards us, and I was head butted by a police officer, causing my lip to bleed and substantial swelling. I was forced against the wall by a police officer and at this point I was bleeding from the face. I left the building in a very shaken state.

Staff members sought to observe the eviction process as they were concerned that students might be injured in the process, but were repeatedly denied this request. Dr. David Bailey, a local UCU branch committee member says: “I decided in consultation with two other UCU branch officers, that a UCU member should stay around the site of the occupation in order to provide some observation. At about 7pm we could hear screaming and shouting from inside the building. Two students stumbled outside the building in a very distressed state – one claiming in a very distressed manner that he had been headbutted by a policeman as the police and security guards sought to enter the occupied room. The student’s lip was bleeding and very swollen.


This student proceeded to inform the police, by phone, that he had been assaulted. In the light of these events it seems to me that it would have been highly advisable for the University to permit an observer to these proceedings, particularly if it transpires that a dispute occurs with the University, police and students each having different accounts of the eviction process” 
Officers at  Birmingham University UCU member and local branch member said  about the occupation:  “Our higher education system is under a sustained attack that will turn the clock back on generations of social progress, democratic advance and educational achievement. Under the government's proposals, our country looks set to become the most expensive place to study in the world, Birmingham University UCU branch supports students who Peacefully occupied on their first day back at university”. Currently three students are  said to be pressing charges for assault and others are taking legal advice before pressing their case. The university is said to have its own footage of the eviction which they have not released. Students have collected this footage of the form of a mobile phone.


Students started this first student occupation of the new year on the first day back at university on Monday the 17th. Edward Bauer, a third year geography student said “we wanted to show support with around 200 staff at the university who are losing their jobs, while the university is running a £20 million  profit. We thought we should start immediately, it was difficult organising over the internet in the holidays but we didn’t think this could wait”.
Student’s anger has been aggravated by the lack of restraint shown by management. Laura Beckmann, the Ethical and environmental officer at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students says “I feel their action is especially legitimate particularly when our Vice Chancellor is one of the highest paid in the country and is having an 11% pay rise this year.”


The University of Birmingham is doing nothing to abate the damage caused by the spending cuts, despite many other Universities taking action. Prof Malcolm Grant, provost of University College London, said his pay would be slashed by 10 per cent and other senior staff would receive wage freezes1.
Bob Cyran Vice-Chancellor of Huddersfield University has stated his intent to support his students by taking on tuition fee debt himself and set up a standing order to pay for a student support fund at his university2.

 Prof Eric Thomas at Bristol decided to give some of the money back from his £309,000 salary. The university said: "The VC took no pay rise last year, and made a donation to the university of £100,000."3
The occupation was covered on the day by a number of news sources BBC4 , Sunday mercury5 , Birmingham news and Mail6, indymedia7 and Schnews8

6.      http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/01/18/students-protest-at-university-of-birmingham-staff-cuts-97319-28003274/

Students face disciplinary action after protest

For immediate release
Date 26/01/11
Location The university of Birmingham
Contact
Mobile 07988056867
Title: Students face disciplinary action after protest

Ten University of Birmingham students are facing disciplinary action that could lead to expulsion after a peaceful sit-in that ended with forceful eviction by university security and the police.

The University has seemingly singled out students who they perceive to be politically active in an attempt to victimise them. Twenty-five students participated in the occupation; ten students are facing disciplinary procedures including one who was not even involved. The hearings will take place on Wednesday, 2nd February.

The students cannot graduate until the matter is resolved and it may affect their career prospects. Lucy Whalley, a final-year physics student says “I want to apply for PGCE after I graduate but this is holding me back and I cannot apply until this matter is resolved”.

A number of students were injured by the police and security in the eviction and are reported to be pressing charges.

David Owen, a second-year theology student, whose departmental staff have already been reduced by a third, says “The doors were opened, three security staff wrenched their way into the room. I stood and linked arms with two other men to create a human blockade in peaceful protest, at which point the tables were kicked towards us, and I was head butted by a police officer, causing my lip to bleed and substantial swelling. I was forced against the wall by a police officer and at this point I was bleeding from the face. I left the building in a very shaken state.”

Staff members sought to observe the eviction process as they were concerned that students might be injured in the process, but were repeatedly denied this request. Dr. David Bailey, a local UCU branch committee member says: “I decided in consultation with two other UCU branch officers, that a UCU member should stay around the site of the occupation in order to provide some observation. At about 7pm we could hear screaming and shouting from inside the building. Two students stumbled outside the building in a very distressed state – one claiming in a very distressed manner that he had been headbutted by a policeman as the police and security guards sought to enter the occupied room. The student’s lip was bleeding and very swollen.

This student proceeded to inform the police, by phone, that he had been assaulted. In the light of these events it seems to me that it would have been highly advisable for the University to permit an observer to these proceedings, particularly if it transpires that a dispute occurs with the University, police and students each having different accounts of the eviction process”

Officers at Birmingham University UCU member and local branch member said about the occupation: “Our higher education system is under a sustained attack that will turn the clock back on generations of social progress, democratic advance and educational achievement. Under the government's proposals, our country looks set to become the most expensive place to study in the world, Birmingham University UCU branch supports students who Peacefully occupied on their first day back at university”. Currently three students are said to be pressing charges for assault and others are taking legal advice before pressing their case. The university is said to have its own footage of the eviction which they have not released. Students have collected this footage of the form of a mobile phone.

Students started this first student occupation of the new year on the first day back at university on Monday the 17th. Edward Bauer, a third year geography student said “we wanted to show support with around 200 staff at the university who are losing their jobs, while the university is running a £20 million profit. We thought we should start immediately, it was difficult organising over the internet in the holidays but we didn’t think this could wait”.

Student’s anger has been aggravated by the lack of restraint shown by management. Laura Beckmann, the Ethical and environmental officer at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students says “I feel their action is especially legitimate particularly when our Vice Chancellor is one of the highest paid in the country and is having an 11% pay rise this year.”

The University of Birmingham is doing nothing to abate the damage caused by the spending cuts, despite many other Universities taking action. Prof Malcolm Grant, provost of University College London, said his pay would be slashed by 10 per cent and other senior staff would receive wage freezes1.

Bob Cyran Vice-Chancellor of Huddersfield University has stated his intent to support his students by taking on tuition fee debt himself and set up a standing order to pay for a student support fund at his university2.

Prof Eric Thomas at Bristol decided to give some of the money back from his £309,000 salary. The university said: "The VC took no pay rise last year, and made a donation to the university of £100,000."3

The occupation was covered on the day by a number of news sources BBC4 , Sunday mercury5 , Birmingham news and Mail6, indymedia7 and Schnews8

1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7772419/UCL-vice-chancellor-takes-10pc-pay-cut.html
2. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=414570
3. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2010/mar/14/university-heads-vice-chancellor-salaries
4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-12217009
5. http://www.sundaymercury.net/news/midlands-news/2011/01/17/students-occupy-university-of-birmingham-building-in-protest-at-cuts-65233-28002535/
6. http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2011/01/18/students-protest-at-university-of-birmingham-staff-cuts-97319-28003274/
7. http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/01/472343.html
8. http://www.schnews.org.uk/archive/news7559.php



Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Two marches, coaches and crash spaces.


This Saturday the 29th coaches to London and Manchester.
On Saturday the 29th of January their will be two marches and rallies against education cuts in Manchester and London.
The London march is being supported by the NCAFC & UCU, the group who organised the marches and rallies in London last term. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=184694258211136  
To get on the coach to London from Birmingham book on 07904960442
The Manchester march is being supported by the NUS & UCU along with other trade unions http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=170799172958208 For the Manchester coach Tickets are available now from Student Voice at the guild for £5. For more information email studentvoice@guild.bham.ac.uk
Stop fees and cuts in Birmingham encourages you to get out to whichever march you can or feel more comfortable with going to and show the nation that students are going to carry on with the fight for education.
Check out the two facebook groups for more information on each march; feel free to message us with any questions, if you want to go down the night before or after message us for crash spaces, please do write down this number, there have been a number of very unfair arrests with entirely law abiding protestors being unfairly charged, this is the number for a good lawyer you can trust 020 7833 4433

Friday, 21 January 2011

Re-post of witness testimony of earlier security assault on occupiers.

This was originally posted on 19/01/11 however, was mysteriously removed on the 21/01/11 how and why are unknown.

Videos of what was being described in the testimony below where included in the original post, they will hopefully be re-posted soon.

This is supplementary to our post about what the BBC has a called a “clash”, that was the forceful eviction of the protestors, this can be found here.

Below is the testimony of an anonymous member of staff who witness what took place during the day.

When I saw the banner drop over the Watson Building Bridge at just after 12:00 noon, I decided to go and have a look at the student occupation. It became quickly obvious that University security seemed determined to take an uncompromising stance towards the occupation, and tried to deny the student occupiers access to sanitation facilities.

When a female student needed to use the toilet on the other end of the corridor security tried to prevent her from re-entering the occupation.

Other students present tried to shield this female student, peacefully and wholly non-violently from the security guards, I was shocked and horrified by the level of violence immediately meted out to the protestors. I saw one student in an arm-lock of one of the security guards, until he went red in the face. Standing in the background I shouted at them repeatedly to stop assaulting the students and stop the violence, but they would not and seemed to ignore me completely.

Another student was (his hands in the air and while shouting 'I am not violent') forcibly held on the ground by a security guard in a way which looked painful.  I was very upset by these scenes and horrified at the violence used against our own students who were by all accounts from what I could see perfectly peaceful.

I was not present at the eviction in the evening.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Response to BBC article

In response to this BBC article, posted on the 18th January 2011 we would like to make the following statement on behalf of the students who occupied the university on the 17th January.

Regarding the university's claim that 'those protesting today are not elected representatives of the student body', we utterly reject the implication that this justifies the violent eviction of an otherwise peaceful occupation. All students have the right to protest peacefully whether elected or not. Moreover it is factually incorrect, there were several elected student representatives participating in the occupation, including three of the university's seven recently elected NUS delegates, a NUS Disabled Student committee member, the student Ethical and Environmental Officer and two guild councillors. Most of these people (if not all) are well known to the university and the student union, and, as such, we are asking the university to retract their false statements, issue corrections, and refrain from issuing such misleading comments in future.

In regard to the university's claim that the occupation ended 'at the point that protesters charged at security staff without warning... six security guards, supported by two police officers, then moved forward into the occupied area'; we ask is it very likely that a small group of mostly female 18-20 year old protesters staging a sit-in would 'charge without warning' at six large trained security men and two police officers? We have various witness testimony that says otherwise. Would there be any doubt as to who would come out on top in such a confrontation? What purpose would initiating violence serve, considering it was in the students' interests to stay and the university was hoping to remove them? Why, if students 'without warning' initated violence against security staff and police officers, were there no arrests? Why did the university refuse to allow members of staff to witness the eviction as independent observers? Could the university's version of events be a weak attempt to fabricate a pretext for violently breaking up a peaceful protest which they didn't want?

As a reply to the police calling us "abusive and un-cooperative" students, we have testimony from union and staff members which would suggest otherwise. We would suggest that a charge of 'un-cooperative' be levelled against the university and police instead for not allowing access to clean water and sanitation to those inside until their phone lines were flooded with complaints, or denying access to other students in and out of the occupied area. Indeed, 'un-cooperative' is a very generous description of the universities behaviour considering the disproportionate threat and actual use of force by the university and police, which arguably in many cases constituted common assault (and is being reported as such by those involved).

West Midlands Police also commented that: "Students were abusive and un-cooperative and several students were pushed.[...]Police went to assist security staff and an officer accidentally clashed heads with a student. That student then called police at 6.47pm to report an assault." The incident in question involved a police officer approaching a student, who was stationery and had his arms linked with two others, and, without warning, headbutting him whilst shouting "STOP!". The student left the building in shock with a large cut and bruise on his face. The incident has been reported to West Midlands Police.

We would like to note a previous BBC article. In this article, in reference to a previous action conducted by the occupiers, West Midlands Police said it "...couldn't have been more different from the violent clashes seen recently in London" and thanked the students for their "controlled, sensible manner".

Our own account of events of the eviction can be found in full here

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

To the students [who were] in occupation at Birmingham University


From Dr. Sarah Amsler from Aston, who tried to give us a talk during the occupation. She has kindly written it for us so we can read it in our own time, if anyone feels the need to be re-inspired after what for some was quite a dispiriting experience this is worth a read.


To the students in occupation,

I stopped by to see you today and to offer a talk; I was looking forward to participating in the planned round table discussions as well. I hope they went forward. Unfortunately, as I understand like many others, I was barred from entry – even from speaking to any one of you in person. I was told that I had ‘no right’ to be on the university campus, ‘no business’ being there, because I was not an employee of the university. This implies that others including prospective students, parents, members of the community, researchers, even tourists have no right to inhabit the campus spaces either. No difference that I was invited by Birmingham students; your invitation carries no weight as you are ‘in dispute with the university’. No difference that the occupation was itself meant to be free and open to all, and that it was in fact the university administration that transformed it into a closed and inaccessible space of confrontation rather than dialogue. No difference that I am a lecturer at a university, that many of you are my disciplinary peers, that I have been to Birmingham many times in the past few years to meet with colleagues, to participate in workshops and conferences, to hear talks – as academics and students do at universities everywhere. When I explained this, I was accused of lying – none of my activities, I was told, could have been possible. I was reminded that the university, even the stairwell I was standing in, is ‘private property’, and that I must leave without delay. I was told to take my opposition to this exclusion ‘back to my own university’ – what an odd logic – by guards who rolled their eyes and acted as if an academic presuming membership of the academy was the most audacious and irrational thing they’d ever heard. Talk of the enclosure of the commons is often vague; experiences such as this make its arbitrary processes visible.

Hope to meet you in a freer space soon. I attach my notes for what I had originally planned to discuss. I intended it as a starter for discussion and debate, not as a lecture.
Best wishes,

Dr. Sarah Amsler
***

For the Birmingham Students against the Cuts occupation, 17/01/2011

Both critique of the situation we find ourselves in, and the spirit of refusal to resign to it, all circulate widely today. But acts of resistance, of the refusal to let ourselves or others be governed, subjected, and devalued in these ways, and practices to create autonomous, human and what we hope are more liveable lives, are still relatively rare.

Refusal and transformation are rare because they are risky – sometimes because they invite discipline and retribution, but more basically because they require a willingness to sacrifice what is known to be doable for a much riskier hope that alternatives might be possible. And in moments of closure, such risks are often taken in the knowledge that these alternatives are not simply waiting in the wings to be activated, but will need to be constructed from the ground up in conditions where the languages and rationalities required for their recognition may not yet exist, and where those that do exist are hostile to the alternatives. Your work demonstrates that, for all its challenges, taking such risks is a realistic possibility (though I think an unevenly distributed one), and that doing so may be increasingly necessary.

We find ourselves at what sometimes feels to be an endgame of the long march of capital through the cultural and political institutions of this society – the proposals to slash funding (especially for arts, humanities and social sciences), escalate tuition fees, and subsume the entire concept of higher education into neoliberal rationality are consistent with the trajectory of higher education policy for the past four decades. Could our predecessors, could we, have done more to slow, prevent or alter it? The question must be asked, although the answer need not necessarily be yes. It is important to know what we are up against. By the early 1970s, E. P. Thompson argued that the English university was already subordinated to industrial capitalism; during this time it was decided that the ‘special place of democracy’ within the universities was a hindrance to their efficient operations as corporations. For students and educators alike, the conditions for and value of critical and humanist forms of knowledge and practice have since that time been progressively and systematically eroded. And as Paulo Freire once wrote, ‘if the structure does not permit dialogue, the structure must be changed’. We have been trying.
 
Thus, while slogans of ‘Nick Clegg, f**k you for turning blue’ communicate something important about the betrayal of liberal democratic hopes, they also miseducate. This is not a red, blue or yellow agenda, but a problem of the entire political system being reshaped into and subordinated within the logic of the market. In the 1990s, Labour introduced tuition fees, then pledged to decrease them, and then raised them again; at the same time, both Tory and Liberal Democrat leaders pledged to abolish them before now shoving them up in coalition. The entire history of widening participation, which saw the expansion of a system of universities that served only 4% of young people to nearly 50%, has been marked by a nearly symmetrical decline of funding for that education, and increasing demands from universities themselves to be given the authority to privatize in the wake of abandoned socialist possibilities. The ‘crisis of funding’ is systemic, not a consequence of recent bank bailouts or ongoing national debt. Challenging the particular policies and decisions is important, and must continue on intellectual, political and moral grounds. Defending and preserving livelihoods is a necessity. But the real problem in fact lies much deeper, in the logics and forms of the governance of society itself. The university, as you well know, is only one manifestation. The question thus is, what does a genuinely public university look like in this situation? How do we protect and recognise those who work in and for it? How does it work? What is its work? And how might we need to remake the university, and ourselves and relations to one another, to make this work possible?
 
During a previous period of crisis here at Birmingham in the 1980s, which involved a solid round of closures, mergers and ‘restructuring’, Stuart Hall reminded us that moments of closure in a particular phase of political and cultural struggle are also moments of possibility. He argued that his generation of students, academics and workers faced a historic choice: to ‘capitulate to the Thatcherist future, or find another way of imagining’. There have been other ways of imagining, but I think this also true for us today. Despite the tendency towards despair, we have deep resources of theory, feeling, experience and desire to nurture sustaining projects of radical imagination. And it seems clear that the reclamation of time, space, autonomy, collectivity, agency, humanity and democracy is often a necessary condition for these projects to be possible. I think they will not be permitted otherwise, for the university is already under occupation. It has been for some time, and the extent to which these spaces of learning and debate are dominated by neoliberal rationalities is made visible in the ways we are not permitted to call them our own, to use them for our purposes, to repurpose them, to think them otherwise. Your actions thus seem to me more of a reclamation of the university than its occupation, and a reaffirmation of its democratic promise and possibilities. By using the space for peaceful dissent and protest, the defence of the rights of workers and ideas, expanding possibilities for the advancement of knowledge and understanding, opening up space for radical experimentation and dialogue, welcoming all those who want to engage in these pursuits, creating new relationships and forms of being – in doing all this, you reinsert the progressive promises of higher education, and of democracy, that are being hollowed out from the spaces of the university itself. They have never been perfectly realised; very far from it. But they must remain open for the possibility.

In 1989, Jürgen Habermas told a German audience that he suspected ‘new life can be breathed into the idea of the university only from outside its walls’. I’m not so sure. We have been looking for an ‘outside’ to neoliberal rationality for decades, but it seems that the longer we seek to discover this from within, the more subordinated we actually become. Your occupation points to an alternative: that we are always-already potentially the outside; that alternatives may emerge from rupturing the existing spaces of permissibility and doing something new in the intervals created through this temporary negation. While this might involve a personal flight from the institutions, it might also be accomplished through their reclamation for all. One pressing question now is how this logic, or forms of it, might begin to inform acts of resistance and practices of freedom with others, in other areas of social life. How we might reorient our educational work towards this purpose. How we might learn to inhabit our everyday lives otherwise, and to build the solidarity and courage that will enable us to do so.

Your work makes it possible to imagine this. We are watching closely in solidarity and in hope.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Forced heavy handed eviction of University of Birmingham occupiers

 Last night students determined to remain in occupation and create an area for free and constructive debate, where removed by excessive force by university security assist by the police.

I’m proud to say the student involved, remained peaceful in spite of personal injuries and very distressing scenes.

This report is compiled by testimonies of a UCU representative present and three students who are pressing charges of assault but, wish to remain unnamed for now.
During the period 18:30-19:00 students were removed from the maths-physics bridge, where on their first day back at university they had immediately re-occupied the university.

Please read the below testimony, it is most accurate we can provide, we have started a petition against the use of force on peaceful protestors and in support of the occupation calling on the university to take a more enlightened approach in the future, to protect its students and its reputation. this can be found here, please sign


another version of this that works outside facebook can be found here.

As one student describes.

“We were directly in front of the door. The guys inside undid the d-lock and tried to get us in and lock it before security could gain access. At this point, all hell broke loose. I was the first one in and another guy was behind me, we tried to get him in but one of the security guards had him in a headlock, strangling him, we tried to from another human chain to get him in but they got him to the floor, he was completely restrained and i witnessed another security guard assault him because he could. Another girl got punched to the floor by a security guard and they tried to drag her and me out. Another girl got a completely unprovoked punch to the chest which I think knocked her to the floor (I saw the same security guard try to apologise to her after)”

Another student tells a very similar story of the start of the violence by university security and police.

“I saw the doors to the occupation open to allow further students inside, whereby the 3 security staff took the opportunity to wrench their way in too. I stood and linked arms with 2 other men to create a human blockade in peaceful protest, at which point the tables were kicked towards us, and I was headbutted by a police officer, causing my lip to bleed and substantial swelling. At this point, when being forced against the wall by the police officer and told to 'stop' (at this point I was bleeding from the face) I left the building in a very shaken state.

This video taken in the immediate aftermath as the last students are being pushed out shows a female student in a very distressed state describing this happening to her.


video

this can be found on youtube here
Another describes the view of the action from further back in the room.


I saw the doors open to let more students in, then the security barged in, i kinda blanked for a bit, and then remember being behind one of the girls (brown hair, pony tail, black trousers and black long cardy) when one of the guards pushed her backwards stretching her back and then punching her, and then claiming he'd done it because she was trying to 'damage his equipment' which she blatantly wasn't. At this point i took a step back from the situation as I get panic attacks and knew I wouldnt be any help if I suffered one.”

A UCU representative, describes his attempts to gain access to the corridor outside the occupation so he could watch a impartial advisor and what he saw and heard from his position.

I decided from that point (in consultation with two other UCU branch officers) that a UCU member should stay around the site of the occupation in order to provide some observation, which seemed particularly necessary in the light of the intransigence on the side of the University, and the ominous sounding 'other measures' that the University was apparently inclined to employ to secure an eviction.

“I waited outside for about an hour. One member of security staff had told me earlier that the occupation would not be permitted by the University to go on beyond 5pm. At around 5pm, someone who appeared to be a University manager arrived with a number of security guards. I and a few other observers waiting outside thought this might be the sign of the forthcoming eviction, so we followed them to the door of the occupation. As we waited outside, we were told that we needed to clear the area. I explained that I was a member of staff and that I was concerned that an observer needed to be present during the eviction. A policeman informed me that I was not allowed to stand on the stairs, or at the back of the corridor (away from the occupation room) as there was an incident happening. I repeated that I was concerned about how the eviction would proceed, and for the safety of the students inside, but was absolutely denied permission to wait and observe and was informed that I had no reason to be concerned as the police would ensure that no-one was hurt. I was subsequently told to leave, first the stairs, and then the entire Watson Building. 

I subsequently discovered that one student had already by this point been involved in an altercation with the police, which apparently involved a policeman kneeling on the back of a student lying on the floor. This was witnessed by a member of staff (and UCU member), who repeatedly insisted (to no avail) that the policeman stop. 

I waited outside the Watson Building with a group of students. A small number of the members of the occupation began to leave the occupation for various functional reasons (one left to speak with the press, another left to empty the bucket that the students had been forced to use as they were still denied access to the toilet), and these leaving students also joined us outside.

At about 7pm we could hear screaming and shouting from inside the building. Two students stumbled outside the building in a very distressed state - one claiming in a very distressed manner that he had been headbutted by a policeman as the police and security guards sought to enter the occupied room. The student's lip was bleeding and very swollen. I reported this to the security guards waiting outside the Watson Building and asked if they were about to do anything to help the student. They refused to assist and informed me that the police were inside the building if I felt something should be done. This student proceeded to inform the police, by phone, that he had been assaulted.”

The first student quoted continues with a description of the continuing violence and then loss of property.

I remember getting dragged the floor, I think a guard tried to get me in a lock but i wriggled my way out. I was also screaming at the guys that they were strangling the guy in the headlock and killing him. I stood there for a while and when I turned my back to walk away and this was when toothless guy lunged at me, grabbed my hair and yanked me back, very painfully. In someone else’s words "he really went for you with his face snarling... I also saw him pacing about like he was gonna rip someone’s head off before his boss sat him down in a chair". This same guy got sat down by his boss and told to be calm, he has serious anger problems.

 I also witnessed one guard punch a girl to the floor, punch another in the chest (he tried to apologise to her after). We started packing up and security were throwing all our stuff away, they tried to take someone’s laptop but didn't manage, the one who had punched the girl in the chest threw away a d-lock so lord knows what else he might've thrown away when we weren't looking. They confiscated a £500 projector claiming it was theirs and also took someone’s speakers claiming it was theirs.

The UCU rep describes the exit of the remaining students some 30 minutes later.

“About 30 minutes later the students exited the room. Reports from the students were that they had been treated very heavy-handedly indeed. One student reported that she had been punched in the face, another reported that she had been pushed across the room, and it was reported that another had been grabbed around the neck and dragged out of the room. One of the students who left the occupation was very visibly shaken and needed considerable consoling. All of the students were very upset and visibly shaken by the eviction.

I then watched as the policeman who was reported to have headbutted a student was questioned by the same student who was making this allegation as to why the policeman had chosen to act in this way. The policeman claimed that he had not in fact headbutted the student, but rather that the student had presented an obstacle to the policeman in the policeman's attempt to access the occupied room, and that 'if my head happened to make contact with yours' that was unfortunate but it wasn't a headbut. When the same student asked whether he could report this incident to one of the other policemen he was subsequently denied this demand on the grounds that it wasn't 'procedural' for an accompanying policeman to receive such a report.

In the light of these events it seems to me that it would have been highly advisable for the University to permit an observer to these proceedings, particularly if it transpires that a dispute occurs with the University, police and students each having different accounts of the eviction process.”

Our petition can be found here.

This was not the limit of the violence by security; additional attacks are reported earlier in the day reports on which are being complied now.

Monday, 17 January 2011

kettling the kettlers, stuck outside the door

We have been kettling the university security now outside for over 5 1/2 hours, they went onto overtime at 2:30, god knows how much this action is costing the university, how much cheaper would it be to take a more elignterned approach, many university have allowed students go ahead and helped faciliate peaceful occupations like this one.

how long can the security wait before the need the toilet?

Locked outside of the occuption

Currently, there are around 15 students who have been locked outside the occupied lecture theatre in Birmingham University. keeping spiris up with songs and games.

The Physics bridge study space was  occupied at 11am this morning in solidarity with staff who are at threat of redundancies by University management.

pre aranged speakers like climate activist and poet danny chivvers and UCU member Sue thomas are amongst them. they are hoping to take part in a fundraising poetry slam and public debate on fees and cuts.

students are well supplied inside and are waiting for universitys response hoping for a the university to facilate a peaceful occupation.
The University and Security are refusing to let students into the occupation, so that we may have an open shared space for a wider education debate.
We are being denied access to water, sanitation and food supplies.
Please call 01214143344  and 01214144536 (uni switchboard) to complain and demand students access. 

Occupation

We are not being allowed to get anyone in or out of our occupation please ring one of these two numbers to voice your complaint: 01214144536 or  0121 4143344

Birmingham University Students in Occupation!!

Birmingham students have occupied the maths-physics bridge to protest against threatened redundancies and department cuts. We have turned this shared space into an open forum for a wider education debate.

We warmly invite you to come along and join in the occupation!

Why are we in occupation?

We are in occupation because the university are placing many jobs under threat, causing unnecessary stress to staff and causing long lasting damage to the development of the university Birmingham.

Staff Job losses are already affecting the student experience, job losses at sociology essentially reduced students degrees to what they could gather out of the library, theology cuts reduced the number of staff departmentally to 20.

Right now research fellows in the School of Education have been formally placed at risk of redundancy after a review that as unfair, inaccurate and rushed, find out more about this case on our blog seehttp://birminghamstudentsagainstcuts.blogspot.com/

We demand that the university makes a pledge to not make any unnecessary cuts, to run all reviews, with an external advisor, take into account staff/student criticism, give staff fair opportunities for input and take all decisions to democratic bodies like the senate.

For the education staff we believe this entire process must be restarted, this time done fairly and the staff in the education department given an apology, for the needless stress caused them by the manner of the review.

We demand the university does everything in it is power to keep fees down and pledges to make sure that education remains a resource that all can access. We demand that plans to cut scholarship budgets in College of Engineering and Physical Sciences are reversed.

We demand that the university is open with it cuts to Geography, biosciences, environmental sciences, the medical school, European Languages, Ancient and Medieval Studies, Theology and Religion and African Studies International Development Department that it has outlined in the sustainable excellence plan

We demand that the university criticizes the Browne review as a socially regressive plan and that David Eastwood apologises for his role in encouraging cuts and fees.

cuts in the education departmeant.

8 research fellows in the School of Education where on 4th November 2010, were formally placed at risk of redundancy as a consequence of a review of research staff carried out during the Summer. This review started on the 16/7/10. Staff were invited to provide information on their research, teaching and administrative workloads and details of funding. They were only given a period of 5 days to so, with opportunities for input closing on the 21/7/10, a ridiculously short period of time considering many staff were on leave in the summer. 

The review itself was based on outdated information from previous reviews. Its methodology it employed only looked at a snapshot of time between Oct ‘09- July ‘10, which unsurprising has not led to an accurate picture of the education department. 

Furthermore, the review is, in part, based on a workload allocation model that seems was only partially adopted by the School. While research staff sent at least 13 pages of collected comments, points of inaccuracies, the final report which the university management acted on remained virtually unaltered and still contained typos, wrong grades of staff and misspelling of names. 

Additionally , The involvement of an external consultant is good practice in a review of this nature and in the subsequent redundancy consultation process.No external consultant has been used.

The review itself undermined many of its own principles; including retaining researchers with the highest potential to achieve excellence in research; recognising and valuing researchers as a key component of delivering world-class research; strengthening the attractiveness and sustainability of research careers; promoting personal and career development at all stages of a researcher’s career. 

The performance of the research staff in question is being judged against narrow job specification criteria outlined by the College, but never made explicit in contracts of employment. Despite being encouraged to undertake different duties by the School in the past, in particular key administrative and teaching roles and RAE/REF activities, it now seems these are viewed inappropriate for research staff. 

I believe this entire process must be restarted, this time done fairly and the staff in the education department given an apology, for the needless stress caused them by the manner of the review.