Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Pictures from the Occupation


  1. I can understand asking the university to be neutral, but surely asking a teaching institute to be politically biased (and, as a result, some could see this move as xenophobic) is absurd.

    What I do agree with you on though, is to ask the university to create a transparent investment policy and divest its money in arms, as well as lifting restrictions on postering. I also agree that Israel acted murderously and with a total disregard to innocent human lives.

    However, the university must be seen to be neutral, otherwise their ability to teach in terms of (as far as possible) unmoderated facts would be completely undermined. The university is not responsible for supporting any foreign causes of any kind - if they would have to support Palestine, then why not any number of other innumerable causes around the world?

    This is a very naive way of approaching an issue which has very little to do with the university. At least, you've not explained why your university should be a vehicle to wield your own political ideals.

  2. I mostly agree with the above post. Regardless of my personal opinions on the situation in Gaza, I don't feel that the university should be getting involved in this in any way. The university has a large number of students from all over the world, including Palestinians and Israelis - taking sides in a situation such as this is only going to create discomfort.

    Also, I feel that the way you're going about this is wrong - I agree that you have the right to have your opinion acknowledged but that's not what you're asking for - you're trying to force the university into publically agreeing with you and stating that people who believe other than you are wrong. You're basically trying to oppress the views of others who don't feel the need to go to these lengths.

    I'm not convinced that lifting the postering restriction would get you what you want either - you need to remember that this would allow people with any views to put posters up - not just yours. I fear that this would lead to people ripping down other posters and defacing them if they don't fit their opinion - it can only cause conflict.

  3. On John's final point: it's essential that universities can be spaces for protest, democratic debate, and activism. That used to be commonly accepted, yet in recent years it's been undermined.

    Not just at Newcastle but in universities across the country scope for campaigning and debate has been narrowed by the authorities. Security has been ratcheted up while student unions have sadly become largely apolitical and the university culture has become more corporate.

    We need an alternative to these trends. One of the great benefits of the inspiring wave of occupations in the last 2 months is the way they've put student activism back on the agenda - and started to reclaim university spaces for students. That is surely how it should be.

  4. I strongly agree with this last post and would like to ask two questions to the writers of the first two.

    You both say this is a bad way for the students to have raised the issue, however I wonder what you would suggest they should have done, being in their position?

    Reading the blogs shows strong evidence for the fact that there really was no other way to go about this. They could not speak with anyone of importance beforehand due to being pushed away, they were stopped from raising awareness with fellow students in almost every method that any normal campaign (even in the street etc) is permitted to undertake, and it seems that the Union etc is an distinctly apolitical body at this particular university (say in regards to the support that other occupations have had through their Union), thus may not be an body able to deal with the sriousness and sensitivity of the issues these students were raising.

    Secondly, I am intrigued as to how you come to make such an assured statement as 'At least, you've not explained why your university should be a vehicle to wield your own political ideals'? I think if you were more honest you would admit that really this is actually only your outsider's opinion on the motives of people you've never met, in a situation I'm guessing you only know about in regards to what is published on a blog. Considering this, I do sees it as slightly worrying that you are willing to assert this above statement so strongly. Indeed, I find the conviction with which you say opinion as fact somewhat disturbing.