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From The Socialist newspaper, 3 April 2013

Sussex University: occupation over but campaign continues

Jack Poole, Brighton Socialist Party
National Demo against Sussex University Privatisation, photo Serena Chung

National Demo against Sussex University Privatisation, photo Serena Chung   (Click to enlarge)

After nearly two months, the student occupation at Sussex University has ended in eviction by police at the request of university management. Events over the last couple of weeks show that this is not the end of the campaign.

On 27 March, with less than 24 hours' notice, 200 people gathered on Sussex University campus to protest against management's attempt to get a court injunction to end the student occupation of a conference centre.

Police

For over a month, this conference centre has been the base for the anti-privatisation campaign at Sussex.

The campaign has organised dozens of marches, including a national demo on 25 March which saw up to 2,000 students and workers angrily descend on management offices.

The demonstrations on both 25 and 27 March were faced by a police presence not previously seen by the campaign.

On the protest against the injunction, riot vans waited in the car park and FIT officers (responsible for gathering information) were stationed on the roof of management's building.

Management rattled

It was clear that the huge demonstration on 25 March had a big effect on management. Weekly demonstrations and the formation of a rank and file union organisation doesn't make privatised services attractive for potential contractors.

Despite management gaining the injunction, it hasn't been easy for them to evict the occupation, which remained strong and continued to show how quickly protesters could mobilise support. Nearly a week later, on 2 April, police moved in to support the eviction.

But it is clear the campaign doesn't end with the eviction. Occupation is a tactic in the campaign against privatisation, it is not an end in itself. Other tactics can now be further explored.

Strikes

This must include strike action by workers on campus which will be an essential part of a successful campaign.

Students can strike as well, ideally joint action between workers and students would escalate the campaign going into the new term.

Attempts to crush the movement through force will strengthen the resolve of students and workers to fight management's brutal privatisation programme and defend education at Sussex for the future.

The annual conference of the National Union of Students is taking place 7-10 April. See socialiststudents.org.uk for plans and reports from Socialist Students members taking part

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