Statement on today’s protest and the re-occupation of the Senate Chambers

The student strike today was a hugely successful demonstration which led to the re-occupation of the Senate Chambers by over 100 students, many of whom had not been in there previously. In solidarity with the UCU strike, we fully support their aims of fairer pay. Since 2008, lecturers have suffered a 13% drop in wages in real terms, however, senior management continue to have benefits added, with the average salary of a vice-chancellor approximately £250,000. At the University of Birmingham, this figure is closer to £420,000 showing an even further disparity considering the cuts to departments and the further casualisation of post-graduate staff through the use of Worklink.
We also continue to stand in solidarity with other occupy and student protest groups around the UK, which have dramatically increased in number over the last few days, following our 8 day occupation against the privatisation and commercialisation of the higher education system. As of 3/12/13, there have been nine university groups occupying their institutions in similar protests in the last week, and this number seems likely to grow as more university anti-cuts societies show their support over Twitter and Facebook.
Once again, the senior management at the University of Birmingham were threatened in the light of massive student solidarity with our and the UCU’s aims, and delivered a letter to the occupation which bought the injunction back into force. Again, they named two students specifically in the letter, which was delivered personally by Brendan Casey around 5pm. We decided to leave the occupation at 5:15 so we could be in a conducive environment for planning future non-violent, direct action against the university management. A letter naming specific students and bringing back an injunction which has been heavily criticised serves to demonstrate the pressure collective action can place on the university. Once more, the university has had to resort to intimidation in order to suppress disagreement on its campus, and effectively removed the occupying students’ right to peacefully protest - a clear breach of human rights.
Nonetheless, the demonstration was hugely successful in sending a message to University of Birmingham students, their lecturer’s and other student occupations - we continue to stand in solidarity against the ongoing commercialisation of our university and higher education system.

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