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Update:Students at the University of Sussex are continuing their successful week of occupation and are waiting for the university management to engage in proper consultation with the students and the 235 workers under threat of outsourcing. After another successful demonstration this Tuesday (12th) hundreds of people managed to push past security and enter into the Bramber House conference centre occupation. This surge of people meant that it was no longer feasible for management to continue with the siege that had appeared since the occupation began. University management have still not replied to the demands made by students, replying only with an offer to meet with students on the one, albeit crucial, condition that the occupation ends immediately. The Occupation has received messages of support from the 235 workers as well as messages of solidarity from around the world and from some famous names such as Noam Chomsky. Sussex Against Privatisation has organised events for every day,including an open Mic night, talks from various lecturers and tutors as well as demonstrations.
Students at the University of Sussex are occupying the conference centre in opposition to management’s plans to privatise services. The move will affect 235 workers currently employed by the university, who'll be shunted onto outsourced contracts. Critical of the non-democratic fashion in which the changes are being implemented, the protest is calling for the management to join staff and students back at the negotiating table.
The university plans to hive off a large section of non-academic services, such as catering, portering, security, waste disposal, cleaning, laundry and printing. The issue, as one occupier put it, is that the newcomers will be “any company capable of making a profit through pension cuts, bodging and corner-cutting”. They added, “The friendly campus community feel will be replaced by the brightly-lit indifference of private provision... No doubt we can all apply for a McDegree in a few years time.”
Barricaded in by private security firms, the students have, at the time of writing, been occupying for four days. Necessities such as tea and hummus are being donated by the ground team of staff and students, and lifted in by a bag on a rope. The choice of the conference centre was tactical: It has a lot of monetary value to the management group, including Vice Chancellor Michael Farthing, and their uber-capitalist master plan.
Despite the radical reputation (does that still exist?) Sussex University have in recent years been cultivating a new, err, proud tradition – one of cracking down on student protest. This included bringing in the riot cops and dog handlers to violently evict a campus occupation in 2010. The protest was calling for a halt to cuts and unpopular restructuring, taking place as the prospect of nine grand fees was looming on the horizon. After that occupation the management sought court injunctions banning any form of occupation protest on the campus.
Our correspondent told us that they haven't seen any dogs yet: “So far the intimidation tactics at the current occupation has a distinctly playground feel, such as the turning off of heating at night and putting toothbrushes down the toilet.”
More info on the blog: http://sussexagainstprivatization.wordpress.com
Follow on twitter: occupy_sussex
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