Why we decided to stay and not to make a “deal” with the university

Last night after the protest and the end of the “Free access” period, we were offered a “deal” to either leave now and they would drop the injunction hearing OR to stay with the injunction hearing going ahead. Here is our response which we sent to them last night:

University Management,

We have received your communication via the Guild of Students’ Sabbatical Officers. In future we request you contact us directly via our e-mail address.

We do not accept the offer that if we leave you will not apply for a 12 month injunction on protests.

We reject your offer to withdraw the threat of a 12-month injunction if we leave tonight. We do not recognise your right to withdraw our right to protest and will ignore any attempt to do so. By including ‘persons unknown’ in the injunction you are limiting the ability of all students at the University of Birmingham to peacefully protest, as they could each hypothetically be said ‘persons unknown’. As we saw in 2011, with condemnations from many groups including Amnesty International, actions on your part to block our right to freedom of expression and freedom of protest will bring the university into massive disrepute.

We have elected a negotiation committee and are ready to negotiate our exit. The success of these negotiations will rest on your engagement with our reasonable demands, which are written below. We are in occupation in order to achieve these demands, and until we feel these demands have been met with due consideration, and an adequate response, we refuse to leave.

Please keep in mind that if you succeed in securing our exit by the courts this will by no means result in the end of our campaign; we believe we have shown our capacity to organise diverse and multiple actions in short periods of time, and we will continue to do. For the cessation of our activities in the long term we again request that you meet and discuss with our negotiation committee.

Our demands:

Free and open access to the occupation by all students and non-management staff, without victimisation or punishment. Senior management staff should be excluded from entering the occupation so that it can remain a strong and safe organisational space.
That David Eastwood and the University of Birmingham should publicly take back their position that fees should be increased and that bursaries should be cut. Instead, they should lobby the government for fees to be reduced, and bursaries to be increased.
That the University of Birmingham make a public statement against the privatisation of student loans and in defence of the public university. The Vice Chancellor should sign up to the Council in Defence of British Universities or the Campaign for the Public University.

That the University’s total income per student place from halls should be frozen next year, and that the cheapest fifth of halls should have their prices decreased.

That all staff working for the University of Birmingham- including those employed in house, by external contractors, and the Guild of Students- should be paid a living wage.

That the pay ratio between the lowest paid and the highest paid staff in the university should be reduced to 10:1.

That a body should be set up made up of elected students, academic staff, and support staff. This should have ultimate oversight over the restructuring of departments, the University’s investment decisions, and its lobbying positions.

That the University produces a publicly available Ethical Investment and Procurement Policy which is reported on annually with plenty of opportunity of engagement with staff, students and other key stakeholders.

That financial statements of the University’s academic departments, and non-academic services should be published so that they can be scrutinised and the University’s decisions be properly held to account by the community.

That the Nursing course faces no loss of investment and no redundancies.

That the University should allocate none of its access income to compulsory fee waivers and instead spend it all on Bursaries, or give students the choice.

Defend Education

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