Report from the occupation at Middlesex University
Today there was a spontaneous occupation of the boardroom at Middlesex University after Dean of Arts Ed Esche failed to attend a meeting arranged with protesters against the closure of the philosophy department. Around 45 people moved into the room. The police were called by the university, but found no grounds for eviction of the protestors or arrests. Some entirely fatuous claims of assault and destructive behaviour were briefly levelled at the protesters; even the police dismissed these charges out of hand.
It took some time before the decision to extend the occupation indefinitely was made. However, initial fears by some of the occupiers gave way to an increasing determination and radicalism; eventually the decision was made with a near complete consensus, despite earlier splits suggesting a walk out at 6pm.
There were further debates regarding what the demands of the occupation should be. Some suggested placing a demand that Ed Esche fulfil his promise of a meeting to end the occupation; others suggested proposing an independent review to determine the fate of the department. Ultimately, these suggestions were defeated in favour of an open ended occupation emphasizing the key demand of no closure—not as a condition for the end of the occupation, rather as a reason for the occupation as part of the protest movement.
The challenges ahead involve further publicizing the campaign, bringing more students and academics from other departments on board, and forging links with other student and anti-cuts campaigns. Tomorrow (Wednesday 4th May) there will be a rally at the other campus and there will also be a party on the ground floor of Mansion House at Trent Park. Please come and encourage others to come. Tomorrow will mark the beginning of the escalation of the occupation. More on this soon.