With the pending national demonstration on Wednesday, the Vice-Chancellor appears to be more and more reconciliatory in his dialogue with the students. The occupation decided to submit a proposal to the self-proclaimed President stating they would suspend the occupation upon the provisos that he would enter into timetabled negotiations, that there would be no repercussions for students who participated in the occupation and that his good faith agreements to these conditions would be received by 5.00pm.

The Vice-Chancellor replied by saying that the university is not minded to victimise any students specifically in the Simon building occupation, not making explicit reference to the John Owens operation. Furthermore, he wanted to have the meeting, conveniently enough, at 4.30pm after the national demo.

We immediately responded clarifying immunity from punitive measures for students from both occupations in addition to rearranging the time before the demo and requesting a brief response to each of the demands so that the occupation could formulate negotiating strategies. Gilbert responded in kind with promptness affirming that he could not rearrange the time and that to issue a concise response to each demands would be, in his judgement, unhelpful. Notably, the response was issued after the 5.00 pm deadline.

In addition to this, he advised he would only enter into such negotiations if we stopped protests. The occupation assumed that such a phrasing also included the National Demonstration as this would appear to be the biggest threat to undermining his so far inactive position. The occupation, in it’s first reply of the day clearly stated that only the Simon Building protest would be halted and effectively this counter offer were the terms to which Gilbert assented to. The occupation responded saying that they would discuss this further with the rest of the group and get back to the Vice Chancellor.

Gilbert also wrote an article for ‘Uni-Life’, a university staff magazine citing his advocacy for the demonstrations in a reconciliatory tone. But he was quick to spill out his contradicting rhetoric that the university could not take a political position and such a hard line approach was needed to protect academic freedom in spite of the political position he actively takes by investing in the arms trade.

What do we take from this? It is apparent that each time we liaise with Gilbert, he gives in more and more slowly but surely. However, the national demo appears to be his hamartia and he is doing all he can indirectly from it going ahead. By providing potential to a dialogue on his terms rather than ours (i.e. with no timetable and therefore no good faith) he is trying evade the demo. Perhaps he is worried that the ghosts of Melbourne will come back to haunt him……


1 Comment »

  1. […] Manchester’s VC Gilbert has offered occupiers immunity and a meeting with him at 5pm on Wednesday. He seems keen to avoid the demonstration on Wednesday. Check their post for more details. […]

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