Sunday, 22 March 2009

Update on Negotiations Situation

We noticed earlier this morning that Matt Fox, the Union Activities Officer, had posted on his Blog an email from the Vice Chancellor. This email was not forwarded to the Occupation's email which the VC's office had previously used to contact us.

The email essentially contradicts the information we had previously been given by Fiona the Womens' officer. We had been told that, during meetings with the VC, she had been given confirmation that delegates from the occupation would be involved. Below is the email we received, to which we replied with a list of 4 delegates names at 13:43.

The University have asked for us to provide a list of names for the delegation to the initial negotiating meeting.

15 delegates can come to represent the Palestine solidarity movement of campus. The Islamic Circle, the Palestine Society and the occupiers each have 4. The Students' Union has 3.

Please send the names of 4 Sheffield University students who will attend the meeting on behalf of the occupiers. This will be passed on to the University then the time of the meeting will be finalised.

The other groups have already confirmed the names of their delegates so please reply before 2pm so the meeting can be arranged asap.


As it is the weekend, we are currently unable to contact the University administration to confirm whether delegates from the occupation will be included in . We have been in contact with representatives from the Palestine Society, the Islamic Circle, as well as the Jewish Society and all have agreed that it is unhelpful for the University management to exclude the occupiers from the negotiations.

We encourage all students and staff to continue to support the occupation but also to step up pressure upon the Vice Chancellor to open up negotiations with us. Our occupation is an open space and we encourage all to come and visit, debate with us, ask questions and display your solidarity or participate in the occupation.

We suggest emailing his office on


  1. At the end of the day if the University decides to do something regarding the situation in Gaza then what does it matter that you aren't in the meeting?

    When I met the Vice Chancellor he was extremely forward about working through issues with the students at the University; his email correspondence with you before your occupation also reflects that. Given that you decided to break off civilised lines of communication and attempt what is basically blackmail then I don't find it surprising that the Vice Chancellor isn't going to negociate with you when he can continue the dialogue that you started with some more rational people who are more representative of the student population of the University.

    If, during the meetings you aren't invited to, they end up meeting some of your 'demands' are you going to complain about not being there yourselves and carry on your occupation or simply acknowledge that something you wanted has been done and leave?

    Oh and one more question. Setting up scholarships, sending books and sending computers is all well and good but given that the majority of the Palestinian people don't go to the University of Gaza your grand philanthropic gesture doesn't stop Israel occupying Gaza or committing acts of agression. Wouldn't you have the biggest impact if you took yourself out of a nice middle class protest at a lovely red brick establishment hundreds of miles away and actually went to Gaza yourself?

    You're basically being the academic equivilent of donating cash to an appeal when you'd be better off actually volunteering.

  2. If the VC excludes you idiots and only agrees to talk to those who have been sensible and grown up enough to conduct themselves peacefully and sensibly then good on him!

    I'd exclude you from the talks and exclude you from the University.

    You're a disgrace to yourselves, and the sheer disdain with which you treat your priveleged University place shows how undeserving you are of a seat at that table.

  3. Dear Students,
    please ignore the insulting comments that you constantly receive. It is a very old strategy, these people are just making fools of themselves by using abusive language and probably have nothing better to do. Anyway I think it is now important that you consider your various options including discontinuing the occupation and moving on to other activities in support of the people of Gaza, but see first what happens regarding th meeting with the VC. You are unselfishly doing something to help disadvantaged people and you should be proud of that - many people support you. By the way my name is Umberto Albarella I am a member of staff in Archaeology and am not afraid to link my name to my opinions, unlike other people writing on this blog, with whom I'll be happy to discuss these matters further. In solidarity, Umberto

  4. Is it possible that the occupiers have been on the recieving end of Fiona's dubious tactics? She also made it sound on her facebook that it was her and her alone who had met with the VC on Thursday, without the other student officers and that it was really her who was pushing forward your campaign. Now, she's apparently in London while you lot are in your occupied space unable to contact the Uni to sort out the mess she's apparently gotten you into.

    I guess my point is really this-are you comfortable with the fact that the occupation is increasingly seen outside of the occupied space as being Fiona's brainchild which, apparently like many other projects, she's now ditched to a greater or lesser extent, leaving whatever good message you guys did have totally at sea for her own gain (or according to 1 union officer because she disagrees with you about the way forward)?

  5. [Copied from previous thread]

    I encourage all opponents of the occupation to take the opportunity to email the Vice-Chancellor ( to lend your support to the University's stance against these selfish protesters.

    Note to the protesters: Student activism can be a great thing, but only so long as you don't infringe upon the right of other paying students to study in peace. Camp out on the concourse, occupy bar one, or lay across Hanover Way for all I care - but occupying lecture theatres is simply unfair on the rest of us.

  6. I encourage all students who see this occupation for what it is to also contact the V-C and encourage him to enter into peaceful negotiations with the occupiers.

    The facts remains lear:
    - Occupiers have encourages the continuation of lectures throughout their protest. Testamony to their commitment to a peaceful and none-disruptive occupation
    - The wave of occupations accorss the country have recieved massive sympathy
    - The gains from said occupations have and will directly help some of the poorest, most brutalised people in the world
    - Sheffield University has huge links to the arms trade, it is therefore complciit in the murder of thousands of people worldwide. This makes an occupation a necessary tactis of last resort, something widely acknowledged by the occupiers.
    - Staff have been very comradely to the occupiers.
    - Those who object to the occupation have, almost without exception not visited the occupation and voiced their concerns
    - The occupiers are always willing to enter into debate and negotiations regarding the occupation, demands and political aims.

    Please email the Vice-Chancellor urging University Manmagement to help the people of Palestine in their time of need.

    Well done guys. We are with you.

  7. Let me tackle your points in sequence:

    - I have the right to attend lectures that aren't taking place political battlegrounds, and I don't want to have to spend time in a lecture theatre that is currently being lived in by however many of you are there. Moreover, whatever you say about your intentions, as a result of YOUR actions, the university is relocating classes. This is entirely your fault.
    - I would counter that the wave of occupations has equally raised concerns amongst a good deal of the student body about the legitimacy of interrupting academic life in the pursuit of political goals.
    - If the University's involvement in the arms trade bothers you so much, boycott it! Find another university that doesn't deal in this line of business. As an aside, if you believe a handful of students across the country sitting in lecture theatres for a few days is going to have any effect on the arms' trade you are wholly misguided.
    - I'll take you at your word about the staff as it really has no relevance to the matter in hand.
    - Most of the students affected just want to go to lectures, and not get involved in a political debate. I dare say many might agree with your cause but still feel aggrieved that you're preventing them from studying in peace.

  8. "preventing them from studying in peace"

    As has happened in other universities the occupiers have from the start affirmed their commitment to ensuring that lectures continue with no disruption.

    In otheruniversities the occupation has sent a delegate into the lecture who have remained silent throughout except to give a brief two minute speech about why they are there.

    This isn't disruption by anyones standards, but even if it were, Palestinians are dying in their thousands, not just because o the Israeli onslaught, but because of the complete lack of solidairty they're being shown. This occupation will directly help these people, at the same time it has been peaceful, energetic and colourful.

    I'm so proud of everyone involved. ^.^

  9. Its funny how rather than take a 5 minute stroll in the sun to the adjacent buildings (1ce or 2ce a week for like a week) people would rather have been part of the Murder and terrorism being carried out by the state is Israel.

    Some serious arss holes in this world.

    "- I have the right to attend lectures that aren't taking place political battlegrounds, and I don't want to have to spend time in a lecture theatre that is currently being lived in by however many of you are there. Moreover, whatever you say about your intentions, as a result of YOUR actions, the university is relocating classes. This is entirely your fault."

    There is 1 battleground happening in this scenario, and its in the middle east, dont be so selfish. I bet youve never even seen a battleground, even after all the smoke has cleared. The occupied space is far from it. But there you go, continue to support terrorism with your money, hope your happy with you investment.

  10. It should be pointed out that the letters exchanged between the campaigns involved and the VC were, as far as I considered, based on no promises at all to deal with any of the demands. Having read the first letter sent the VC clearly stated that he was not interested in discussing the demands.

    Let's be clear about this, the only reason the VC is even considering discussing these demands is because of the occupation. This is a sentiment shared not only by the Palestine Society, but also by the Islamic Circle, the Jewish Society and the President of the student union, plus two sabbatical officers.

    Furthermore, senior management told lecturers they were not permitted to hold their lectures in the theatres, despite the fact they had been invited and come to the Hicks building to do just that. These are the facts.

    On a principled level, if people clearly cannot see the overall benefit of the occupations demands, instead clouding that judgement because they have had to have their lectures in a different room (shock horror) then I suggest re-evaluating priorities.

    The wave of occupations throughout the country have been the only way that concessions - practical and helpful - have been won. This current occupation has managed to bring the VC to the negotiating table and it's patently absurd that the occupiers are being ignored.

    I support the occupation, I support the demands and I support the occupiers participating in the negotiations.

    Keep up the good work!

  11. When I started my degree, I did so for the sake of my education. While others may decide to become politically active, I'm far too apathetic to spend my time on 'causes'. But that's just me - everyone should have the choice to support whichever cause they like. But equally everyone should have the choice to STAY THE HELL OUT OF IT. According to 'Anonymous' @12:00, simply by opposing your occupation on pragmatic grounds, I'm complicit in terrorism. What the hell gives you the right to judge me like that? All I want to do is get on with my studies!

    Also, if you really aren't interested in interrupting student life, why didn't you camp out on the concourse or occupy the union?

    And you're right, I've never seen a battleground, nor do I want to. I was in fact talking metaphorically, but obviously too subtly! So how about, 'Anonymous', you address some of my points rather than indulging in small-minded scurrility.

    [PS - I do not appreciate being called an 'arss hole' when I'm trying to engage in serious discussion with you (as you repeat you want to). If you want to talk about things, talk, there's no need to resort to petty insults. I won't bother asking for an apology]

  12. I'm with Peter entirely on this. The "with us or against us," attitude is beyond childish.

  13. comrades the fact the awl are involved has meant us underlclassrising to withdraw ourselfs, we do suport the widder aims objectives of the ocupation, that it is bringing to the front the issue of palastine, but we can not and must not be active with the awl in any circumstance

  14. ^^^ and you are?

    that's pure sectarianism, the AWL are shite, but to refuse somethign that will help Palestinians directly just because of them is baffling?!

  15. that's pure sectarianism, the AWL are shite, but to refuse somethign that will help Palestinians directly just because of them is baffling?!

    no it is not, rather than spend time with them we sooner and do work with The ISM and others..

  16. It's not a question of being "with or against", it's a question of having some objective perspective and not having the generic reaction to dismiss anything remotely political out of hand. Clearly the occupation is achieving something and does have the potential to won real and concrete concessions on behalf of people who have had their entire lives destroyed.

    if people honestly and seriously cannot look beyond their own immediate, and lets face it, negligible irritations about having to move lecture theatres then something is clearly very wrong with your priorities.

  17. Underclass Rising does absolutely no work with anyone, let alone the ISM. I know this for a fact as Underclass Rising consists of two individuals.

  18. I have never spoken to Fiona, but I don't think she meant to do this to you, wouldn't she currently be in London for the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Student Dayschool?

  19. Which side are you on? For or against. Cant sit on the fence on a matter like this. Which side are you on? Which side are you on?

    I'm for helping our fellow students in Gaza in a practical way. I will join the occupation this week as im inspired by your courage!

  20. If you want to do something practical, get on a plane and go to Gaza and do some humanitarian work.

    The protest makes f*ck all difference.

    "Stop investing in the arms trade" - I'm sure Israel are capable of arming themselves independently of Sheffield University

    "Send computers" - they'll come in handy if people have some time in between rebuilding their schools, homes & infrastructure and finding something for themselves and their families to eat.

    Right cause, wrong action. If you truly care, do something sensible. If you don't, then stop acting like arses.

  21. "It's not a question of being "with or against", it's a question of having some objective perspective and not having the generic reaction to dismiss anything remotely political out of hand. Clearly the occupation is achieving something and does have the potential to won real and concrete concessions on behalf of people who have had their entire lives destroyed."

    See? That's the other part. You're either against the occupation, or apolitical. I'm interested in politics, and particularly middle eastern politics, I just don't happen to share the occupations (frequently narrow and misguided) view of the political climate of the region.

    It remains to be seen whether the occupation can achieve anything. They seem to have split from Fiona Edwards, until now their only rep in meetings, over differences of opinion.

    How are the gains going to make a real difference to the people of Gaza? They're not-they may make some difference to the students at the University of Gaza, or the presumably small number of Gazans who wish for nothing more than to study at the University of Sheffield, but that's about it. The people of Gaza could presumably have used more aid agency support, financed in part by a well run, unantagonistic campaign in RAG week by the various societies concerned with their plight. Instead, we've had almost a week of arguments within the campaign itself (or at least between it and Fiona Edwards) resulting in the potential of a meeting, the setting up of which has been at best calamatous from their end. They've spent a week calling for the university to talk to them, and when they do they can't get their shit together enough to talk to anyone. Hardly an effective campaign.

  22. I find it bizarre that those opposed to the occupation are condemning the occupation as being 'political blackmail'. What is political blackmail, exactly? Every political campaign engaging in negotiations should have a bargaining chip. What those opposing the occupation seem to be saying is that they'd prefer students to be effectively powerless in what they can do to achieve their demands, on the basis that this form of campaigning is 'more civilised'. They'd much rather (from the quotes above) have students being dumbly reverent of university authority, and oh-so grateful for their place on their course at all. Hardly the spirit of '68. I'd like to ask, really, whether or not these people really believe that had the world been inhabited by people like them over the course of the last century, that we'd have ever won the right to vote?

    It's quite frankly sickening that supposedly 'political' people would be so quick to condemn what is an act of passionate political action, which has done more to raise the issue of Palestine on the broader student campus than any other action in years, and has effectively raised negotiations to the table where before they were sidelined, side-tracked and ignored.

  23. And to add to that, the poster above me is totally inaccurate; the occupation has had a public meeting every night since Monday, getting over 80 people on every occasion (LT6 has been packed to the rafters on 3 occasions) and is expanding, not contracting, their daily list of events to include broader political meetings, film showings and planned future cultural events.

    Not to mention the mass of discussion sweeping across campus.

  24. Sounds increasingly like a summer fete


  26. "It's quite frankly sickening that supposedly 'political' people would be so quick to condemn what is an act of passionate political action,"

    This "sickens," you? Fuck sake, get some perspective.

    "Not to mention the mass of discussion sweeping across campus."

    Er...yes. The only discussion I've heard is "Who are these people?" "Why aren't they on the concourse engaging with people?" "Why are they taking over a lecture theatre for Gaza?" and "Who the fuck even cares, all this makes me long for is the entire Middle East to fall into the sea so I never have to hear the words "Gaza," "Solidarity," or "Occupation," ever again"

  27. "Who are these people?"

    I'm Brian and so is my wife

  28. "Why aren't they on the concourse engaging with people?"

    Have you not been on the concourse in the past week? The occupiers have had a stall every day and have been more than happy to talk to anyone with questions or issues they would like to raise.

    Without direct action, you would not have many of the rights that you enjoy today.