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“They Can’t Ignore Us”: Sussex Students Occupy University Buildings

Students at the University of Sussex have occupied buildings on their campus to protest against  the possible privatisation of campus services.

The occupation, described by the students as “a last recourse” to stop the privatisation, follows a demonstration involving 300 staff and students marching through the campus, just outside of Brighton.

The protesters say that they have had to take this action, as their views were previously ignored. If the university’s plans go ahead, 235 jobs will be outsourced to private companies along with certain services, such as catering and estate management.

Public intellectual, Noam Chomsky and the journalist Tariq Ali have expressed their support for the campaign as the occupation gains media attention.

Some 150 people are currently in Bramber House, on the upper levels of the SU building and are refusing to leave until the university retracts its plans. Michael Farthing, Vice Chancellor of Sussex has requested that the students leave the building in return for speaking to the university’s registrar; John Duffy.

However, the occupiers are adamant that “if dissolving this occupation is the only condition upon which we can meet, then we will not have a meeting.”

The protests have culminated from a series of methods students have used to oppose the unpopular plans to outsource 10% of jobs within the university workforce, announced in May 2012.

Students felt that their concerns were not being taken seriously enough through peaceful demonstrations, open talks and online petitions over the past eight months.

First year student Kirsty Chan expresses what angers her most about the outsourcing; “One main frustration is that we are not able to access the university’s reasons for privatisation.”

Protestor Ian told Impact: “We are not planning to go just yet. We’ve been in there for nearly three weeks costing them a lot of money, so they can’t ignore us”

The protest is reminiscent of the occupation of Old Market Square in Nottingham in 2011, in which students and non-students alike campaigned against their perceived failure of capitalism and financial inequality for over six months.

With demonstrators refusing to leave without a fight and promising to “continue into the foreseeable future”, uncertainty is ahead for the University of Sussex.

Elliott Stone

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One Comment
  • No to Sussex Privatisation!
    27 February 2013 at 13:47
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    Fact check: They haven’t occupied the Students’ Union (who are supporting the protest!!), they have occupied the University’s conference center

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