Occupation update

Still here at George Square Theatre. At the moment we’re watching a film called Sands of Sorrow. It’s kind of boring so I thought I’d blog instead.

So today I spent most of the day outside speaking to non-student protestors. There’s a frustrating situation where the university is refusing to allow anyon who’s not a member of the university into the building. This means we have people showing up outside to show us support and join the occupation, realising they can’t do very much and moving on. It’s also freezing outside so people inside are reluctant to come out. That said we’ve had a core group of people coming to our stall outside to help us hand out flyers, and generally just to have a chat. I’ve been sitting outside each evening and the dedication of some people is astounding.

Last night after I blogged a group of musicians came and played us some brilliant original music, and then we had a really long meeting to discuss the university’s response, which they’d said was final. Again using the consensus decisionmaking process (something I’m really glad I’ve been introduced to), we decided that we’d done everything we could with this occupation, and acknowledged that we had achieved a lot of our aims. Those that we hadn’t achieved, or those that we thought we could achieve more with, it’s perhaps more feasible to act upon them through the normal channels, or through further demonstration in the future. For example the university thinks it would be unethical to “deny access” to graduate job opportunities at companies making arms used by Israel by banning them from careers fairs. Of course this argument doesn’t stand up at all, they’re not denying access, the access to the jobs is still there through normal channels. All banning them would do is stop the university indirectly condoning their actions. But we can better act against this by demonstrating at the careers fairs and working through EUSA. I think the majority of us knew it was time to leave.

Seeing as the university administration is not around during the weekend (particularly Melvyn Cornish and Tim O’Shea), we decided that we would leave on Monday morning before lectures start. In the meantime we’ve been using the space to try to mobilise more support, hold workshops, screen films and hold lectures, in order to keep momentum and create a group which is ready and willing to hold the university to account over what it’s agreed to do.

As part of this we held a demonstration outside the front of the building, attended by just short of 100 people in total. To start with, a choir called Protest in Harmony came and sang some protest songs. This was the best thing I’ve ever heard, with lyrics like [paraphrasing] “the Venezuelans sent the Israeli ambassador home, for its flagrant disregard of international rules” (which was apparently taken straight from a newspaper article), but set to choral, hymn-like music. It was phenomenal, and got a lot of people outside who probably wouldn’t have otherwise been arsed. Then the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign showed up (who have also been great, they’re obviously very used to speaking publicly and one of their members, Mick, has MC’d both of these demonstrations, which helped it go a lot smoother) and we got a demonstration going. Several people spoke out, and we got a lot of signatures on our petition.

So things are going well.

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