Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/670/11995
Students occupy against cuts at London Met
National organiser, Socialist Students
On 4 May 30 students began an occupation of London Metropolitan University in defence of courses and services there. Lecturers and other staff also entered the occupation bringing solidarity and offering their support to the students.
The cuts that management wish to make at London Met will devastate the university. 70% reductions are planned to course budgets and many students face the looming threat of having to be transferred to other universities to complete courses that are to be discontinued.
Rather than defending its students the management of London Met has chosen to do the bidding of the Con-Dem coalition, passing on their brutal package of cuts and fee rises. But the demands of those students occupying the graduate centre at the university were very clear: not one cut at London Met!
The occupiers were, in the main, students who are themselves facing course cuts. Many were students studying for a performing arts degree. Disgracefully, the university is planning to sell the studios used by these students to private companies. It's rumoured that students studying this course will then be asked to transfer to other institutions, potentially some distance away.
Edmund Schluessel spoke to the London Met occupiers. They were evicted just before midnight on 9 May. John Hughes, a second year student in sociology and international development, one of the courses at risk, described the entry of the police into the occupation, which took place around 11.40pm Monday night:
"They came straight in the door. There was no warning. We were served the injunction on the spot by two county court sheriffs, four police officers, ten bailiffs and one member of London Met security. We were given ten minutes to read it and take our stuff."
Around 2.30am the previous morning, occupiers say private security staff kicked open the doors and entered an area where people were sleeping. John also said that private security have been sexually harassing and verbally intimidating the occupiers.
"One of the members of the security team said to one woman through the doors, 'you should put up a picture of yourself, something that's more sexy' and 'I'm quite a big bloke and if I wanted to come into the occupation I would. Two young ladies are not going to stop me.'"
The fightback that has begun at London Met can act as an inspiration to students and workers in higher education all over the country. As university managements attempt to pass on cuts and fee rises, students and workers should demand that they refuse to do the Con-Dems' dirty work and instead pass needs budgets, based on what the university population requires to run effectively, without raising fees.
As well as student protests, industrial action by education workers will be necessary in order to take the campaign forward. On 30 June, if workers (including teachers and lecturers) take strike action to defend jobs and services, students must join their picket lines and demonstrations in solidarity to help fight all cuts.
Join the Jarrow march for jobs
This October Youth Fight for Jobs will be marching from Jarrow to London to protest against rising unemployment, fees and cuts and to demand the right to a future for young people. The march will start in Jarrow, south Tyneside on 1 October and arrive in London on 5 November with protests as the march goes through towns along the route. It commemorates the 75th anniversary of 200 unemployed men from Jarrow marching the same route.
www.youthfightforjobs.com for more information or if you are able to march, raise money or organise a protest.
In The Socialist 11 May 2011:
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party election analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reviews