Letter from the Manchester uni occupation

Dear university staff, press and fellow students,

As a group of students at the University of Manchester we are currently occupying the Simon Building in response to the situation in Gaza. We have been in constant occupation of University buildings since the afternoon of Wednesday 4th February. The University management has stated that as it is not a political institution, it will not take a position on the matter. However, the University is involved in the situation in Gaza due to its continued investments, both direct and indirect in the arms trade. In this case, silence is a position.

Universities are a significant part of the world economy in their role as research institutions and educational facilities and as such have a duty to make responsible investments. There are several ways in which the University of Manchester can and should help, including divestment from the arms trade and raising awareness of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

In the wider sense of democracy, protest and perhaps more contentiously resistance, are a part of the democratic process. The University not being a democratic structure itself means that those channels open to us as students are not democratic, even if they are accepted. As demonstrated by the actions of a section of the Students’ Union Executive group where the count of quorum was blocked by some outside and inside the building where the Emergency General Meeting was being held, this is also a course of action that has been cut off.

We would like to remind students that our occupation is not happening in isolation, but in part of a wider student occupation movement across the nation and several of these have sent us messages of solidarity. Teachers and lecturers have also expressed support for occupations both locally, and nationally, with the lecturers union, the UCU, issuing a statement praising occupying students.

Despite our earnest efforts to engage the University management in constructive negotiations, we continue to be frustrated in by their lack of response. We look forward to such communication and await a start to positive dialogue.

We would like to stress that this is a non violent and inclusive protest and any disruption to our peers’ education is expressly against our wishes. We request that the university consult with us on how best to minimise such disruption. This occupation seeks to improve the lives of students in this country by being both politically engaging and respecting the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the right to disagree.

It is our objective to create an inclusive environment for all and to strive for full equality of participation. Personal feelings and individual well-being are integral to the effective organisation of the group and must be treated as such. Students in general and participants of the occupation in particular are asked to be aware of their language and behaviour, and to think about whether it might be offensive to others. There is no space for discrimination against others on any grounds, including but not exclusive to religion, gender, race, political perspective and/or affiliation, disability or sexuality. Please see our safer spaces policy for more details on our continuing efforts to create an inclusive protest.

All University of Manchester students are encouraged to participate in this process. During the occupation we will adhere to the same codes of personal conduct as is expected of us as members of the student community.

Please feel free to contact the occupation through Nasreen on 07599832052.

Best wishes,

The students of the occupation

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1 Comment »

  1. […] blog as they are updating it and have plans for a surprise action today. They have also put up an open letter explaining the reasons for their […]

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