Progress made at Monday’s negotiations with Gilbert

First of all, sorry for taking so long to let you know the good news from Monday’s negotiations. We have all been extremely busy with the Student Union elections taking place this week; (Man Uni students: make sure you have cast your ballot for the many Pro-Palestinian candidates who are standing, by 6pm Thursday).

Last Friday we vacated the Simon Building, on the promise of negotiations with the Vice Chancellor, Alan Gilbert, on Monday. These negotiations went ahead as promised, with three occupiers sitting alongside the Student Union Executive. Despite unsympathetic voices on S.U. Executive, the negotiations were promising.

One demand was fully met. The University is arranging for surplus academic supplies to be sent to the Islamic University of Gaza. Alan Gilbert was very keen on this demand, and has been in discussions with the librarians to ensure that all disused books and other supplies are made available. As the occupation lasted a lot longer than expected (evidently longer than it takes to drive to Gaza!), the Viva Palestina convoy mentioned in the original demand has now arrived in Gaza, so we are in the process of researching other ways we can transport these supplies.

Major progress has been made in securing divestment from the arms trade. Gilbert has agreed to improve transparency over the University’s investment portfolio. This may not seem like a lot, but students have been campaigning over the University’s millions of pounds of investments in the arms trade for over three years now and, despite numerous stunts and protests over the issue, progress has been frustratingly slow. In a matter of weeks, Manchester students will know exactly where the University is involved with the arms trade, and so, in future, will be able to make far more specific, and therefore realistic, demands for divestment.

Such information will also help us in our demand for the university to boycott Israeli goods. Although the Vice Chancellor refused to boycott a country, he was willing to consider boycotting key companies linked to Israel. Soon the University should make available to us lists of the companies that it holds investments in, and purchases supplies from. From these we plan to make specific, realistic suggestions of companies linked to Israel that the University can boycott, and Gilbert has indicated that he would be willing to do this.

The negotiations are by no means over. Many of our demands have not yet been discussed, due to lack of time on Monday. Some have been rejected: the University will not official fundraise for the DEC appeal, although Gilbert has invited us to do so ourselves on campus, including by entering lectures. But much has been achieved, and we are expectant of more successes ahead. The negotiating team, along with the Union Executive, will meet again with the Vice Chancellor on Friday; at least an hour and a half has been blocked out in his diary.

All of the occupiers are hoping for the best, with the election results on Thursday night, and then these negotiations on Friday.



  1. Abdul J said

    Excellent news so far guys! I find it funny how the demand GIlbert’s already agreed to meet is the one which caused him to comment “that simply isnt how the world works” due to ‘the logistics involved’ on the day the occupation first started lol.

    Keep us all updated 🙂

  2. Peter Ryan said

    If you are pleased with your progress so far, perhaps you could show some respect and refer to the VC as “Professor Gilbert”, rather than just “Gilbert”? It might help you be taken more seriously.

  3. Tony said

    Good news, well done folks. I hopped on a train and came to the demo on the 4th (nice way to spend a day off work!! ;)…..a great day and fantastic to see that what you’ve been up to has been so effective.

  4. […] Manchester have been in negotiations all day and have made some progress. […]

  5. Mike said

    In addition to referring to our President and Vice-Chancellor in a more respectful manner (‘Gilbert’ is ok in a headline for brevity, his title or full name should be used in text) you could also reconsider whether it’s appropriate to dismiss anyone who has failed to fully support all of your demands as a ‘zionist’. I’m sure the SU exec failed to do anything in support of the occupation and GM mandates through incompetence rather than a decided policy of support for the Israeli action. The protests, occupation and EGM took them by surprise – it’s been a number of years since there have been protests on this scale – and they froze like a rabbit in the headlights of an oncoming vehicle.

  6. Amdy said

    Mike, certain members of the Union executive have proclaimed outright Zionist positions. In January, our General Secretary was in Albert Square supporting the rallies backing Israel’s actions in Gaza.

  7. sr3 said

    Yes, we should be sure to use our glorious lord Gilbert’s full title in future. Also, remember, he who get hurts will be he who has stalled, so if these exec members (though they confess to be) really aren’t Zionists then last night’s election results are exactly what they deserve for this unrepresentative behaviour

  8. I’d be careful about the investment list – he can claim to show you the complete portfolio without actually doing so. I’d do some research into ways to verify the information he gives you.

    Mike: No, the old exec had actual, documented policy of supporting Israel – see its definition of anti-Semitism, which includes ‘acts such as “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”’.

    Peter: It’s not disrespectful, many radicals simply refuse to use titles. I haven’t called anyone by a title for at least 4 years, and I’ve found titles chafing and oppressive for as long as I can remember. As far as I’m concerned, he’s either Alan or Gilbert (or Alan Gilbert, if its ambiguous who I’m talking about), but he’s not alone in that – the same goes for everyone.

  9. Plus, whether he’s currently cooperating with participatory democracy or not, at the end of the day he’s still an oligarch – at least, unless there have been dramatic developments in the past day and he’s agreed to abdicate and abolish the position of Vice-Chancellor (and not simply take the same job somewhere else again), give up his entire investment portfolio and give away the majority of his fortune. He’s not suddenly the hero of the people just because he’s taking a few basic demands seriously.

  10. Jo Nolan said

    Spartacus21C: I think Sidney Poitier put it best in “In the Heat of the Night” when he said “They call me MISTER Tibbs!”

    Back on topic – congratulations on the negotiations and your progress so far.

  11. Joe said

    Hey guys,

    whatever you do, don’t try to understand the social and political causes and context behind suicide bombing in the middle east!

  12. omg wtf, ok thats just completely put me off Charles Kennedy >.<

    And to think I used to call him “the Lib Dems token socialist” 0.o

  13. gazmac said

    According to respected international lawyer Franklin Lamb a recent CIA report gives the Israeli state 20 years before it collapses. Apparently members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have seen the report which argues that a two-state solution is no longer realistic and that a one-state solution is the only viable democratic option. It predicts:

    “an inexorable movement away from a two-state to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and 1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable peace in the region.”

  14. Congrats guys!
    If you have any luck finding the means to transport surplus materials could you let us know at…we’re struggling to find a method ourselves, and know a few others are too!


  15. Gordon Bennett said

    Hello there guys

    Could anyone please confirm either way if the 26th March protest in John Owens building was anything to do with your movement?

    Thanks guys!

  16. supporter said

    what happened in the end? the negotiations were apparently due to continue after this post… but no further news for over a fortnight. It would be good to know what happened.

  17. Joe said

    What`s happening at the negotiations?

    To all the students who are looking to increase their social consciousness and join a movement that spans more than a single issue, I reccommend joining the ISSE – International Students for Social Equality.


  18. Mun said

    @supporter – You have no need to know.

  19. Tom said

    1. Defend the right to protest! – remember Ian Tomlinson
    2. Stop scapegoating the Muslims!
    3. Say no to police aggression! – Friday 5.30pm Albert Square 17Apr

    PS- any chance of an update?

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