Students from the Occupation at Newcastle University have peacefully protested this afternoon in response to the Vice Chancellors refusal to meet with the members of the Occupation to discuss our demands.
At the beginning of our 7th day of occupation in the Fine Arts building at Newcastle University, a small delegation was sent to hold talks with the Vice Chancellor, Chris Brink, in his office in the Kings Gate building. This delegation was sent with a mandate to discuss the possibility of the Vice Chancellor coming to our space to begin negotiations on our demands. Unfortunately we must report that he dismissed the possibility of this entirely on the grounds that the students in occupation do not represent the wider student community at Newcastle. This is despite the occupation having the support of the democratically elected representatives of Newcastle University Students Union, NUS, UCU, Unite and Unison, along with many lecturers and students and demonstrates just how out of touch the management of our University is with the views and opinions of the student body.
Throughout the meeting the delegates were spoken to in a dismissive manner and it was made clear that the university management had not considered consulting students on the threats we face from the current government. Indeed the Vice Chancellor admitted that it was the continued presence of the occupying students that had led him to the decision that a consultation of students should take place. However, it was made clear to us that any discussion on these issues would occur only on the terms of management.
The protesters were laid on the floor in the entrance of the building with their mouths taped up, symbolizing the frustration and anger we feel at being excluded from talks about the impact that cuts to higher education will have on Newcastle University and the country. The protesters left before disciplinary action was taken.