By Arfah Farooq, 2nd year media and communications, Goldsmiths for The Evening Standard
On Wednesday I was among those who led a protest of about 100 or students at Deptford town hall, a university building where senior management of the college have their offices, which we decided to occupy for the next 24 hours.
We took direct action because of the refusal of the Goldsmiths management to publicly take a stand against the Government’s ideologically driven fee rises and regressive education cuts. They have also decided not to officially support the UCU and NUS national demonstration on November 10.
Being a radical university, we are following in the footsteps of students who in 1999 also staged an occupation against the threat of expulsion to non-payers of tuition fees. We are the first university to take direct action against higher tuition fees and education cuts — senior management should know we are mobilising, so either get ready to fight with us or against us. But we will fight till the end.
And being a creative university, we have been hanging effigies of Nick Clegg and David Cameron and banners outside Deptford town hall, and writing in chalk everywhere on the footpath outside. We made our mark loud and clear.
I was in charge of our media and blog at Savegoldsmiths.tumblr.com. The best thing about our 24-hour occupation were the emails I was getting — from the ex-students who occupied in 1999, our lecturers and even firefighters. That is the Big Society — students and workers uniting to help fight each other’s battles. I also had many emails of support from universities across the UK and beyond. Goldsmiths has stirred up something that could lead to many more occupation across the UK, especially after the national demo next week. And you know what? I’m really proud.
I blogged here before about my younger brother, who might not get the same chance to go to university because of the higher fees. Well, I’m not letting the chance to go to university be snatched from my siblings and my future kids. The occupation may have come to an end but the battle has just begun. I will be marching on 10th and urge everyone to join us and defeat the tuition fee rises!