Warwick declares victory!

Yesterday, we received word via our Students’ Union that the University was ready to deal. They have put a statement up on their website (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/insite/), and they are prepared to come to the table (with our SU mediating) and discuss where to go from here (with respect to sending aid, ethical investment, etc.)

So many people did not believe that, when we occupied a room in Warwick, that is was going to be successful – I hope you know have been shown that students still care! To top it off, last night the Emergency General Meeting we called had the largest attendance in ten years, and voted in an overwhelming majority (83% for) to both condemn the humanitarian crisis and offer support for those who performed the sit-in. This overwhelming show of support could never have happened a week ago before the sit-in started.

I would like to personally thank, on behalf of all the Warwick Solidarity Sit-in collective, everyone that came and showed support – whether it was in the form of solidarity, of hands to help, of food to keep us going, or help with talking to the university. We feel our action has woken the faith in student activism that had been lying dormant at Warwick, that it informed many people that before knew little about the crisis, and that it sent a message to both the rest of the UK and the rest of the world that there are people out there that do care. We really felt that the students were behind us in our action…

but that was by no means the end. Now we are at the table with the university with student backing, we need to try and win change through the “proper channels”. We also need to harness the joy that so many felt from seeing students take a stand for something, anything. Our time is now.

We have a meeting at 6pm on Monday in MS.B3.03. Come along and discuss where we can go from here. Good luck to all those still occupied, good luck to those that ended, and good luck to those thinking about “going under”. Solidarity!

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27 Responses to “Warwick declares victory!”

  1. Katerina Elias-Trostmann Says:

    I am happy to have read this and to see that action is being taken. Too often we remain passive and I can only regret that I was not able to take part since I am on my year abroad…

    This makes studying at Warwick more meaningful to me. Students taking action should be normal and regular and not out of the ordinary.

  2. Occupations Says:

    It’s good to hear that you have managed to bring the University into talks with you. It’s also amazingly reassuring that so many students demonstrated that they care about the situation in Gaza and supported your actions.
    Great job guys – keep up the good work and keep us posted on what comes next.

  3. VTS Says:

    So what’s the count, around 1% of total student population in favour of your ideas?
    Sadly, when students finally make a stand it’s usually against the wrong thing. I’d rather not have them making any stands at all, hence.

  4. Confused Says:

    I thought you weren’t moving until you’d achieved your goals? You haven’t achieved anything yet (aside from securing a meeting), so why have you ceased occupation?

  5. warwicksolidaritysitin Says:

    @ VTS: by that logic, there’s no point having a Union Council, or even maybe Sabb positions, as they are rarely voted in by more than around 5% of the student population if I remember right.

    @ Confused: the University made it clear to us that it did not want to negotiate any demands whilst S0.21 was under “occupation”, and so we felt it would be more worthwhile, if we ever wanted to organise the sending of aid or instigating an ethical investment policy, to end the sit-in and carry on our campaign using different methods. hope you’re less confused now!

  6. Confused Says:

    As always, a lot of noise, but no actual results. Well done for wasting a lot of time and money that could have been better spent elsewhere.

    IF you achieve any of your original goals I will be very very impressed.

    If you manage to get decent degree results after wasting so much time, I’ll be even more impressed.

  7. HTM Says:

    @ Confused— Soon you will get VERY VERY impressed and maybe jealous too (but hopefully less confused).

  8. Jay Says:

    I agree with confused. By no longer occupying the room you have no leverage in the negotiations. If you’re gonna do something at least do it properly.

  9. Chris Browne Says:

    Confused:

    To justify our actions with an analogy… Michael Collins ran the revolutionary war against the British empire in Ireland until 1921. At which point they agreed to come to the negotiating table If there was a ceasefire. He called it. They negotiated, and from these talks was produced the Irish Free State. It was significantly more than Home Rule which had been offered before, even though it was ultimately less than the IRA had been fighting for. The point to this is that certain stages in conflicts (whether violent, or non-violent like our own) reach a stage where their efficacy is no longer guaranteed, and you have to move forward to the next arena of struggle. In this case, around the negotiating table.

    Yes, we may not achieve all our goals, but by exiting the sit-in at this stage we’ve come out with the highest amount of student support/democratic backing that we could ever have got. We are in a much stronger position now than we would be if we continued to sit in S0.21.

    After all, a compromise is better for the situation in Gaza, and better for the health of protest movements than getting nothing at all.

    Chris -Warwick sit-in participant.

  10. VTS Says:

    If 200 students can bully the university into providing aid for Gaza (a region that lives on our tax pounds and euros anyway) then good night England.

  11. Ciaran Says:

    What on earth does aid for Gaza have to do with England’s bedtime?

  12. kourosh Says:

    VTS, your comment doesn’t even warrant a reply.
    I really hope it is sheer ignorance on your behalf.

  13. warwicksolidaritysitin Says:

    @ Confused: what time has been wasted, other than (in your view) ours? what money has been misspent? I’ll just take the last two bits as you wishing us luck – thank you.

    @ Jay: we have the leverage of the Students’ Union and popular student backing, but accept your criticism of our tactics… what would you have preferred, us staying in the room indefinitely?

  14. Still Confused Says:

    “what would you have preferred, us staying in the room indefinitely?”

    Isn’t that what you pledged to do? I do seem to remember reading somewhere (here or Facebook) words to the effect of “we will not cease occupation till our demands are met”. Your demands have not (and most likely will not) be met and yet you’ve ceased occupation.

    “and popular student backing”

    What exactly does that mean???

  15. warwicksolidaritysitin Says:

    we pledged to stay in as long as the group deemed necessary to get our demands met. the university made it very clear to us that they would only start dealing with us once we left the room, and that on leaving they would be prepared to start negotiations… so we decided that it was in the interest of us, the university, and those we are trying to help that are affected by this crisis, that we ended the sit-in. I can understand your scepticism with regards to the university just backing out of any negotiations now we have no “leverage”, but we decided to give them the benefit of the doubt ^_^

    as for the “popular backing”, I was referring to the best turnout in around 10 years to a Union meeting voting 84% in our favour at the recent EGM.

    I hope your confusion is, at least, waning!

  16. Dr hootch Says:

    There is no remedy for self-enforced confusion…

  17. VTS Says:

    Gaza definitely needs more support.
    UNRWA: Budget of 1/2 billion dollars for 2007 (+ about the same amount for project-bound funds), 29.000 employees. Caters for a more or less unknown number of Palestinians, could be as much as 7.4 million.
    UNHCR: Budget of 1 billions dollars for 2007. 6300 employees. Cares for 20 million refugees.
    Do we have to wait for Israel to get involved in, say, Darfur for you to care about anyone but “victims of Zionist oppression”?

  18. warwicksolidaritysitin Says:

    you seem to have persistently ignored anything we have said, VTS. we are not just doing this because we hate Israel, if we were it wouldn’t be in solidarity with victims *of both sides*. If you still can’t see that, then…

  19. VTS Says:

    Looking at your demands, I really fail to see any solidarity with Israel, unless you count the boycott of British arms suppliers to Israel as an attempt to strenghten Israel’s local arms manufacturers.
    I guess you know that some of your “partner” sit ins with whom you declared solidarity demand the expulsion of the Israelian ambassador, the lifiting of Israelian diplomats’ immunity and their trial for war crimes/genocide, just to name a few of certainly fair and impartial demands?
    Can’t see anyone demaning that the Hamas leadership should be trialed in Den Haag.

  20. Jake Says:

    If you are to expect a small student body to do all that you claim is needed your understanding of the history of civil struggle and society in general is seriously flawed. As a society the Uk is at the tail end of a string of economic bubbles and rampent consumerism. On the surface society has been well, however under this facede gaping divides have destroyed community and left many areas of society and social groups dis empowered and disillusioned. The students of Warwick have not been excempt from this. A relative disengagement and feeling of powerlessness has pervaded the conscienceness of the student body (and youth nationally). This is why what the sit-in has acheived is so important, it has reengaged the student base, even if they think the actions taken are idiotic and wrong they have engaged people and penertrated conversation. This is in touch with a wider social movemnet and runs parrall to a growing unrest. The group has established links with other students both nationaly and internationaly as well as various organizations. Further action will without doubt follow and this time with a broader student support and the potential of mass national student action. This is how struggle achieves itself it manifests in constant waves, each cycle aquiring more momentum and potential than the last, ever growing and adapting to the new enviroment it finds itself in. We are essentialy at the start and before these actions are shot down we should step back and grasp the nature of the zietgeist these actions pervade.
    I emplore those critical to come and engage with us, we make no secret of who we are and have no issue of anyone involving in this process. We use a highly democratic means of establishing what are purpose or motives entail. So instead of posting anonymous blogs of empty criticsm come and engage, input and effect the shape of what is to follow so that it reflects more what you believe to be the best course of actions.

  21. warwicksolidaritysitin Says:

    @ VTS: firstly, BAE Systems is hardly a true British company, and hasn’t been for quite a while. Secondly, judging us by what you deem misguided or incorrect moves from *other people* is patently dodgy. As Jake said – if you want to try and have a proper conversation about this, then feel free to come and talk to us, we’re not hiding. an internet to-and-fro is hardly constructive ^_^

  22. Occupations Says:

    Could you publicize that Nottingham have been forcibly removed and Sheffield Hallam occupiers are to be suspended from uni.

  23. toasteater Says:

    I too fear that there is a risk of being fobbed off by the uni now that the occupation is no longer going on.

    It seems crucial to me that any negotiations are undertaken in a democratic, participatory and collective way to avoid the danger of leaders or figureheads either selling out the group by agreeing to watered down demands, or on the other hand being identified as prominent leaders and personally persecuted.

    More important than the outcome of *this* occupation is whether the group is willing and able to undertake further actions. If the negotiations don’t prove worthwhile you shouldn’t hesitate to re-occupy, this time choosing targets which will cost the university maximum economic disruption (admin facilities, conference venues, corporate sponsors?).

  24. Steve Says:

    ”Yesterday, we received word via our Students’ Union that the University was ready to deal. They have put a statement up on their website (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/insite/), and they are prepared to come to the table (with our SU mediating) and discuss where to go from here (with respect to sending aid, ethical investment, etc.)”

    Why should the university be sending aid to Gaza? I do not really understand why universities are being targeted at all really, other than the fact that they house a lot of people that would call themselves ”activists”.

  25. warwicksolidaritysitin Says:

    @ toasteater: we are sending delegates (decided by consensus) to the meetings fully prepped on both what the views of the group are, and what authority they have to decide “on our behalf” so to speak. as for what to do if the talks prove to be a waste of time, that is something we hope won’t happen – the university have been seemingly willing to cooperate with us to help achieve our aims of sending aid and the like. but if they do prove fruitless, we will decide what to do when it happens!

    @ steve: the university, just the other day, left a number of computers outside a building because going through the process of disposing of them properly is too much hassle for them. these are the sort of items we are looking to send over – items that would otherwise be disposed of.

  26. Steve Says:

    Hassle is a good word! Are you prepared to pay for the computers to be sent to Gaza? It would probably cost more than the actual value of the computers! At the end of the day, a university is not a charity, it is primarily a teaching and research facility, and as far as I am concerned all money devoted to charitable causes could have been better spent improving areas of the university and my education! Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with these computers (and other items) being sent to Gaza or other worthwhile locations, if it will be funded by a charity.

  27. warwicksolidaritysitin Says:

    technically, the university *is* a charity, and that is why straight donating these computers to a charity dedicated to the cause is a problem (legal technicalities) – but we are working with the university to find a way that best suits everyone!

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