Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Our Email to the VC

Sent at 11:24pm, 16 March 09.

We are writing to you from inside a student occupation which began this evening in the Hicks building. We have peacefully taken control of two lecture theatres (5 and 6) on Floor E and are running them safely as democratic, student-run spaces.

We have done this in protest at the failure of university management to continue a process of negotiation over the university's response to Israel's recent attack on Gaza.
As student activists and members of the University of Sheffield community, we call on the university to:

  1. Issue a statement condemning the disproportionate actions of the Israeli state against the Palestinian people.
  2. Create a special programme of five Palestinian scholarships and waive all fees for current students from the occupied territories.
  3. Enter into an academic partnership with the University of Gaza.
  4. Donate old books, computers and other relevant equipment to the University of Gaza, and pay for the transport of these materials.
  5. Publicise the Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal on Sheffield University notice boards, website and via email.
  6. Initiate a programme in partnership with students of divestment and ending links with the arms trade.
  7. Allow those studying medicine to carry out their electives in the occupied territories of Palestine.
  8. Commemorate the United Nations Palestine Solidarity Day on November 29th.
  9. Echo the Occupation's statement of support with Israeli students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in the IDF.

We have taken this action because we believe our university should be run democratically from below by students and staff, and not in the interests of corporate profiteering. Because of this belief, we express our solidarity with university workers and demand

10.That they face no cuts in jobs, wages or conditions.

We further demand

11. That participants in, or supporters of, the occupation face no repercussions.

We would like to begin open negotiations with representatives of university management as soon as possible. To this end, we invite you to visit us in our occupied space (Hicks LT6) tomorrow morning after 9am to commence discussions.
Email correspondence with the occupation can be conducted through this address.

Yours -
The Sheffield Occupiers.


  1. Warm wishes and solidarity to all those involved in the Sheffield occupation. Let us know if there's any way we can help, if you need us to send messages in support of your demands to the VC or anything else.

    Victory to the Palestinian Resistance! Isolate the racist Israeli state!
    End British support for Israel! Boycott Israeli Goods!

    Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East

  2. Solidarity from Liverpool Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!

    Student actions over the past weeks represent the beginning of a serious challenge to Labour's historic support for the racist Zionist state.

    Victory to the Palestinian people!


  3. well done Sheffield Uni - I work with some SheffUni graduates and they are amazed, and pleased, to hear what you are doing. Good luck with your demands. Gary

  4. This page needs a contact email and phone number prominently displayed...

  5. "waive all fees for current students from the occupied territories" - So you're asking the university to abandon the idea of considering scholarship applications on the basis of merit and need, and instead allocate the money on basis of who's shouting the loudest? I'm not sure that seems like an appropriate demand at all...

  6. how come they are not protesting about the millions killed in the congo, or the genocide in sudan, or the occupation of Tibet?

    Seems like the same old message from the same old left wing groups to me, rather than any genuine humanitarian concern....but maybe I'm just old and cynical!

  7. "Donate old books, computers and other relevant equipment to the University of Gaza, and pay for the transport of these materials."

    Surely there are a lot of universities that deserve this? Why Gaza? And why should the uni pay for it?

    And why should fees be waived? I agree with the guy before me on that point.

    While the issues you mentioned are important I think the fact that Manchesters occupation has lasted 30 days should show you its probably not an effective way of negotiating with our university.

    Given that Sheffield uni is generally pretty good at listening to students I really feel that this is sending out a negative message about a pretty decent uni who I would imagine WERE negotiating with you before you decided to do an occupation probably more for the sake of saying you did one rather than thinking it'll help.

  8. I should like to see a detailed explanation as to:

    1. Why you think that each of your 'demands' (for want of a better word) are such that the university is in a position to meet them; not practically, but in the sense that Sheffield photocopier manufacturers simply cannot have policies on Guatemalan flood defense. It is not their place.

    2. Why you think that funds directed at meeting these demands, would be best spent in the meeting of these demands. If I buy bread and scatter it in the street because I care about the well-being of birds, then I have done a silly thing; I would have done better to seek a different method of acting upon my caring instinct. I should like to the the calculations behind your demands which presumably demonstrate that you have not fallen prey to such silliness.

  9. Why don't you set up an occupation based on the end of third world poverty, the overturning of the class system, the free distribution of goods and property and the banning of nuclear arms while you're at it?

    You might have about the same amount of success as the one you're undergoing now.

    Your requests are, frankly, completely fatuous. To 'demand' an 'academic partnership with the University of Gaza' is perhaps top of the list of ridiculous requests.

    You're barking up the wrong tree there, as you are with scholarships, fee waivers, free transport of aid from the university and that medical students be allowed to practice in what is a recent and ongoing war zone.

    This is absolutely self-aggrandizing, solipsistic nonsense. As if there aren't many other desperate situations where our aid would be welcome; as if there aren't world-class universities that the Uni of Sheffield needs to pair with; as if there aren't historical precedents for the continued support of Israel by the UK that aren't also 'racist'.

    Get a grip.

  10. There are many things which could be said about this occupation. I will just limit myself to one of them. On the Facebook group, it says: "Sheffield students overwhelmingly voted to move into occupation to win our demands." The way the text has been phrased indicates strongly that "Sheffield students" should be read as "Sheffield students as a whole" rather than "some Sheffield students". If you take yourselves to be acting on behalf of all Sheffield students, backed up by a democratic vote, I want to know:

    1. When was this vote held?
    2. Why wasn't I (and presumably many others) informed about it?
    3. How can I register my disagreement?

    You can do whatever you want, but I reserve the right to protest if you're doing things in MY name without MY consent. That's my simple point. This is a question which perhaps should have been asked at the Facebook group but I do not wish to give the impression that I support this occupation by joining that group. Hence I ask this question here. I hope you take it in the relatively non-polemical spirit in which it is written.

  11. David -

    You might have not voted for the "right" result...why do you think you were not asked?

  12. Because he and many others knew absolutely nothing about the planned occupation and now "Sheffield students" are said to be in favour of this occupation. This is VERY annoying.

  13. Since direct action seems to be the order of the day... if people don't agree, why not do something about it?

    Go over to their family's houses and "peacefully and democratically" occupy their kitchens until they vacate the lecture theatres, donate their life savings to KFC, agree to wear amusing hats every second Thursday and sign a statement condemning Mars bars.

    I'm sure they'll see that's perfectly fair and reasonable - it's on a par with the maturity and common sense being shown by the protesters after all.

  14. Best wishes to all involved in this protest - international tolerance of Israeli violence and oppression has continued for far too long. While I condemn the firing of rockets into Israel the response from the Israeli government was entirely disproportionate and may amount to war crimes. I hope the university open negotiations soon and that the protest is a success - good luck!

  15. I think we should all thank Emily for steering this convo back to the issue at hand; Gaza.

    I would like to ask those of you who are asking why these students are not acting on any other of the world's problems right now; if you are so concerned, why aren't YOU doing anything about it?

    Sadly there are very few people in this world that care about others anymore. This means that those who do must start somewhere, and they strive to do all they can to address all of the worlds crisis. To call them self important, or their cause/actions solipsistic is ridiculous and is merely the easiest and lowest blow you could make that would make yourselves feel better about the fact that you are only interested about one thing in life, yourself (indeed I find the use of the word solipsistic in this context rather strange; have you not done your homework about either the occupiers and their cause/on the philosophy of solipsism? It seems to me not. If you want to use big words in the future I suggest you use the right big words!)