The Slate occupation: an open letter from Warwick UCU and Warwick Anti-Casualisation

The Warwick branch of the University and College Union (WUCU) and Warwick Anti-Casualization (WAC) have separately expressed their full support for the three demands made by those currently occupying The Slate. Today, when the occupation enters its second week, we wish to solidify this support in a joint statement.

After a week of occupation, events, talks, exchanges and interaction, we wish to affirm that student activism represents a reasoned response to the repeated failure of the democratic processes of our institution. The issues being highlighted – TEF, casualisation and the injunction against campus protest – affect and concern us all. Students have welcomed our members and engaged with us; their commitment and participation are reasons to strengthen our original messages.

It is clear to us that the students’ demands need addressing because they are absolutely vital to the wellbeing of all students and staff. The students have stood in solidarity with the staff we represent; truly, they are acting not as individuals but on behalf of the greater community. We cannot ignore them.

Many among us (staff, tutors and educators) have had the opportunity to take part in activities related to the occupation. We have been inspired by the ability, passion and dedication with which the occupiers have transformed the Slate into an open space, a space of dialogue, confrontation, collective enrichment and clarification for all involved. Far from being exclusionary, the occupation has been a way of opening up to the rest of the university community; to advance a creative and much-needed form of co-operative, horizontal and multidisciplinary education that our university often fails to offer. When students feel welcome, comfortable and empowered, their lives are enhanced and their academic performance improved. This benefits the whole university, particularly teachers.

We appreciate that management and security have so far maintained an amicable distance from the occupation, allowing the students to educate each other in this important space of protest and collective enrichment. That said, we are aware of how swiftly these conditions can change and the memory of December 3rd, 2014 is still vivid.

We are especially concerned that as soon as the campus empties for the holidays, management may change its approach and adopt a position in conflict with the wellbeing of those involved in the occupation, and with the open and constructive spirit of the space that it has generated.

Student welfare is of paramount importance in our profession; we take our duty of care and our pastoral obligations very seriously. Consequently, we will not keep silent if the students are threatened, harassed or subjected to any form of violence. We trust that management will be careful to avoid any situation that damages future relations between staff and students, or that contributes to harming the international reputation of the University of Warwick.

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