students occupy for gaza: activism goes back to university

Taimour Lay looks at the recent wave of university occupations across Britain in protest at the Israeli attack on Gaza

When students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London shut down an on-campus MoD exhibition on January 13, the one-day occupation was seen as both a qualified success and a missed opportunity. But with the atrocities committed in Gaza creating a sense of outrage and urgency among thousands of people, what SOAS activists failed to carry through, other students resolved to achieve.

kcloccupation

Two days later the LSE’s Old Theatre was under occupation and a day later Essex University followed. The major ground and air offensive, Operation Cast Lead, ‘ended’ on January 18 but from January 20-22, the second wave of occupations in solidarity with Gaza had begun in earnest: Kings College London, Birmingham, Sussex, Warwick, the London College of Communication, Manchester Met, Oxford, Leeds and Cambridge were all under occupation, communicating formally and informally, sharing tactics, drawing up broadly similar demands and settling in for the long haul. The immediate context of Israeli military aggression had broadened into a critique of the education system’s financial links with Israel and the increasing commercialisation of all aspects of university life. Success in one place emboldened the rest; clampdowns by the authorities generated a discontent that may keep growing. Continue reading “students occupy for gaza: activism goes back to university”