University is a factory: organise, occupy, strike

Month: December, 2013

Why we, as students, should support strike action

Today and tomorrow both libraries will close as staff at our university take strike action.

A strike is never the first course of action. It is an absolute last resort.

As students, we need to support the people who constitute the campus community; because they are the university.

When we leave University, the majority of us will also face attacks on our employment conditions from our managers.

Supporting workers here now means we support our own right to fair employment.

Our education is not University management’s priorty:

University of Liverpool Deputy Vice Chancellor: ‘Education is part of the university’s business’

Support university staff who actively support your education.

Pay cuts are the action, strikes are the reaction.

Strikes are visible, pay cuts aren’t.

Meeting at 12pm on University Square to show our support for those striking.


The End: This Is Just The Beginning

Following three days and two nights of peaceful protest, we are being kettled round all sides and know that we are being served in the near future with an injunction, and so we are leaving. We are incredibly grateful for the level of support we have received throughout the duration of this occupation. Students, staff, union members, the Guild, other Occupy groups and people involved in the larger movement have shown us continued kindness, encouragement and solidarity, and we appreciate it greatly.

Sadly the same cannot be said of University management, who have refused to negotiate with us and have purposefully taken the decision not to support their students but to employ underhanded intimidation tactics that respect neither the aims of our occupation nor the general right to protest, and undermined our basic human rights. The fact that kettling is preferable to further attempts of negotiation is a direct show of how management feels about its students. The little contact that we have had with them has confirmed to us definitively that as far as the higher-ups are concerned, this University is not primarily a place of education but a business.

There are three main components to what we intended to achieve here: to put pressure on the University, to achieve collective autonomous learning-based goals within the occupation and to take a committed stand against the ongoing privitisation of higher education. In terms of pressure, we feel that we have largely fulfilled that aim to the fullest extent that we can. The University have been forced to acknowledge that the issues raised in previous statements have not gone unnoticed and that they cannot rely on a culture of political apathy to push reforms that are not in the best interests of their students and staff.

Our learning-based goals have set the foundation for a consistent broad left movement within Liverpool, with many people from around the city expressing an interest in regular meetings at our own space. The active learning that has resulted from peer-to-peer learning and skill-sharing is something that we intend to replicate as frequently as possible with anybody who cares to join. Education should never be the domain only of those rich enough to afford it.

With regards to taking a stand, the location of the occupation combined with the attention we have received from national and local press has resulted in an undeniably effective visual representation of protest. The right to protest becomes more important every time it is threatened, and is in itself an integral part of student politics.

If the University insists on creating an ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric, then our place falls squarely into the united ‘us’ of workers, students, academic staff, union members and all people that believe in an education system that should be more than a profit-making factory. We stand with the unions, other Occupy movements, and any group that opposes the privitisation of the education system and our public services in general.

We will continue to support and show solidarity with the Occupy movements across the country.

Where We Want to Go From Here

We have learnt a lot from our occupation of the university so far. We’ve developed a better sense of the wider community of Liverpool, and a lot of new ideas have emerged about our future aims because of ideas we’ve been exposed to by those outside of the student community.

One of the best things we’ve done during this occupation is to develop our ideas about what freedom of education means. We believe free and fair education is education that is accessible to all, at no cost, under no conditions, and one where everyone contributes to the learning process, in a way that is not practiced in traditional academic environments. To exchange skills instead of only receiving information from those in positions of power actively challenges privilege. By encouraging participation we hope to empower people to involve themselves actively in the production of knowledge. It has the potential to generate consciousness of the social usefulness of free education not only among the university community but for everyone who wishes to expand their mind.

We wish to open up a space regularly, to put this aim into practice. We are provisionally aiming to do this first on Wednesday the 11th of December, in the afternoon, with the space yet to be decided upon. We hope to host some of the talks we did not get a chance to put on today, and would like anyone with ideas for skill exchanges, lectures or procedures to get involved. This educational space, University of Occupy Liverpool University, will be one which is inclusive and combats oppression in its practices and how discussions are held. Our experiences with management today reiterate the necessity for a free educational space separate from the market.

In addition to this, we hope to organise a broad left student organisation in Liverpool, uniting all members of all faculties in the Merseyside area who are comitted to combating inequality, oppression and the marketisation of education, in order for us to exchange resources, and so that we can organise and help each other. We have spoken to students and faculty members from all universities and hope to implement this when our occupation ends.

We do not wish to set up these organisations and impose how they are run, rather we are sharing our ideas and providing a blueprint for how these organisations might get off the ground. We are hoping that the wider community of Liverpool will get involved. If you are part of the Merseyside community and wish to contribute, please email us at so we can create a mailing list which we will then share.

In solidarity,

Occupy Liverpool University

We’re not negotiating either…

As we were told, this is not a negotitation. If the management won’t negotiate with us, then we won’t do it either. The management invited itself in our room and without announcing themselves in advance, they prevented us from discussing how we wanted to conduct the negotiations and then prevented us from choosing a room for negotiating.

During the discussion with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Patrick Hackett, security officers and a police officer were set at our doors, preventing access to the main room of the occupation, even for those already involved. This has had the effect of excluding members of the occupation from discussing our demands with the management. When they left, they told us we had 30 minutes to make a decision whether we were leaving the premises or not, after which we would be locked in without access to water.

This behaviour from management is in bad faith. They are preventing us from discussing the issue of whether we want to leave the premises or not, and rather to discuss how and when we can go to the toilet. They also are preventing us from reaching members of the occupation which left the premises this morning, to go to their lectures and study, in order for them to be involved decision making.

In light of those distasteful “negotiating practices”, we will stay in the Irish department. The university is contributing to the disruption of its own operation by preventing access to staff and students. They claim they cannot guarantee their safety, but evidence shows that we were more than welcoming and courteous. Our occupation is legitimate. It will continue. Our space is still being used for educational purposes.

We refuse to submit to the threats and bullying by the senior management of this university.

We denounce the patronizing attitude of the management.

We denounce management’s unwillingness to engage in good faith negotiations.

Therefore we will carry on our peaceful process.

We demand that we are allowed access to water and the kitchen

We demand that everyone previously involved in the occupation is allowed access to the occupation

We demand that the University allows staff and student to freely access the Irish Department building

EDIT: The deputy VC today claimed that he couldn’t let staff and students into the Irish Studies building because he could not guarantee their safety whilst we were in the building. “I don’t know who you are”, he said.
Last night, management deployed security staff and fire officers originally working on campus libraries and other buildings onto our occupied “priority” building, without the guarantee of safety for other students in other buildings.

Good Morning Liverpool: Our position today, day 3

We were hoping there would be free access to the building today, so people can get to their offices, attend seminars, and attend our planned series of lectures. University management were denying access to the building, for both staff and students, even those working within this building.
That has changed in the past minute, now staff will be allowed in, and we welcome this decision, although we hope that is extended to students soon.
We will still be holding our planned series of lectures and discussions, and for the more intrepid supporters and those curious, we’re sure that if you wish to access the building, you will be able to.

We’re glad to see coverage of our occupation in various news outlets, so far we’ve been featured in The Liverpool Echo, The Independent and The Guardian.

We’ve also been contacted by Radio 5 Live in the early hours of this morning, more on that soon.

We were hoping that the university management would address and then respond to our demands, however they have not done that so far.

Lectures and seminars for this building have been rearranged, the details for that are on the Twitter.

Our Agenda for tomorrow

08:00-13:00: “What do you want? Why are we here?” Drop In

13:00 Break

13:30 Activism & Non-Activism in the LGBT Community on Campus

14:30 Post-Marxism and The Human Condition

15:30 Break

16:00 Radical Education

17:00 University is a Factory

18:00 Break

18:30 Radical Democracy

19:30 Film Screening

Opening up the space: Our plans for tomorrow

Here at the occupation we’ve had a productive day of workshops, lectures and discussion.

We will be continuing our program of free education tomorrow, opening it up to the wider community as a liberated space with freedom of access. Anyone who is curious about what we are doing here we very much encourage to come down tomorrow.

Our plan for tomorrow is that we will continue to occupy the lecture and seminar building on the ground floor of No. 1 Abercromby Sq. However, as the strikes are over, we wish to allow all seminars and lectures elsewhere in the building, and all office and postgraduate spaces open to anyone who needs or wishes to use them. In this way we hope that University management will allow freedom of entry to the building, which has not been allowed up to this point. As a peaceful protest, we feel we do not need security refusing entry to those who wish to inquire about this movement and the space.

In order to give sufficient warning, we have contacted the Guild of Students and told them of our intention to continue occupying the space, so that lectures and seminars can be rearranged in other buildings around the campus, of which there are plenty. As we know from lectures and seminars that have been moved the past couple of days, it can be done on very short notice. Any failure to do so is not a failure on our part but a failure on part of the university.

Signing out with solitary.

Management and us: our latest interaction

Recently, the management came to one of our windows to tell us about how, according to them, our legal status has been influenced by alleged conduct on our part. The first time they came to us, last night, was to threaten us with disciplinary procedures. Now, this is the second of our encounters with university management. Having been courteous to all the staff that we encountered either at the window or at the door of our building (including agency security working through the strike…), we object to this characterization of the events by mannagement. We have invited students and staff to join us, an offer which has been accepted by several people. The occupation has received broad support of the unions, of several lecturers, of students and of the Guild of Students. This in itself should be enough to show the management that our occupation is legitimate and does not require threats of sanctions.

Our occupation is still peaceful. We are being very respectful of the premises. We are conducting an ongoing teach-in.  Accordingly, we do not believe that the situation warrants a change in how it has been dealt with until now.

On the contrary, we would ask that the University addresses our demands instead of threatening us, once again.

In solidarity and prepared to stay

Our Space

We are running an autonomous space. We believe in direct democracy, and function accordingly.This space belongs to everyone and everyone can contribute to it. We want to make this a space where collective action and education are experienced differently. This is the first step in reappropriating our Higher Education by sharing our knowledge with each other in an engaging and participatory way. The liberation of this space stimulates creativity and action and we believe that further grassroot student organising is the way forward to social change on campus.

Therefore, those who whish to contribute and attend the workshops are welcome to join the occupation.

day two of occupation

After an uncomfortable night’s sleep and a 7.30 start, the building has been tidied and a schedule of the events with some guest speakers for the day has been devised. 

We will be hosting a series of talks throughout the day with the provisional running order:

12:00 – Brainstorming about activism & social movements on campus and in Liverpool

13;00 – BREAK

13:30 – Radical/alternative education

14:30 – European trade union movement

15:30 – BREAK

16:00 – Women & the social movement

17:00 – Extreme energy & climate change

18.00 – BREAK

18.30 – Quebec student movement

19.30 – Film screening (Film TBA)

We’ve been showing our support to the university workers on strike and encouraging students and academic staff not to cross the picket line in solidarity, and we will continue to do so throughout the day.

We’ve continued to receive fantastic support from people and have consistently received plenty of food, drink and bedding through the window which we are incredibly grateful for.