Saturday, 9 May 2009

Plymouth Squatted Mansion

Those of us involved in the university occupation have now squatted a beautiful building on North Hill in Plymouth...drop by for coffee & conversation!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Actors Wanted!

Hey all
We're trying to organise a performance of the short play Seven Jewish Children for sometime in May. The play is only around 10 minutes long, and is made up of 7 acts consisting of separate characters - so if you're interested in helping out you won't have pages upon pages of lines to learn!

You can see a performance of the play here: (part 1)
(part 2)

We know it's exam time, so are taking things slow, but it'd be great if we could get some committed volunteers to say they're up for it now, before we start meeting & practising and things in a few weeks time.

We'd really like as diverse a cast as possible. If you're interested, get in touch!

Many thanks!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Coach tickets for G20 march, London, 28th


sold out already! find alternative transport here or here


If you're from Plymouth and wish to come to the Jobs, Justice, Climate march in London tomorrow you can join our shared coach! Buy tickets for £5 return here. We'll be leaving at 7am from the Bretonside bus station.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Sheffield uni occupied!

Sheffield uni has occupied!
Check out their blog here!

Dates for yer diary!

The following is a rough list of events over the coming weeks...the specific rooms and times etc may change, but the dates should all be right.

- Friday 20th March - Film: "Waltz With Bashir" @ 7pm, Cookworthy room 402
- Saturday 21st March - M&S picket @ 1pm
- Thursday 26th March - Sameh Habeeb, Gazan Photojournalist @ 7pm, Babbage 319
- Saturday 28th March - G20 March in London (leaving Plymouth at 7am)
- Monday 30th March - Presentation from David Clinch, Devon NUT secretary (room & time TBA)
- Thurs 2nd - Sun 5th April - NATO summit, Strasbourg
- Saturday 18th April - Student co-ordinating meeting, UCL (more info)

More info to be added soon
Cheers all!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Photos From Saturday

The public response to our presence outside M&S was pretty positive, and we certainly got a lot of attention. We were approached by a man within minutes who told us he had a gift voucher he came to spend, but seeing us outside refused to compromise on his principles. He thanked us and left. Morale was pretty high, and refused to be brought down even by the angry elderly gentleman that tore his way through the chain.

Until next Saturday, M&S.

(Indymedia article)
(Herald article)

We plan on continuing our picket of M&S every Saturday in much smaller groups of around 4 or 5. If you're free to help out any Saturday get in touch! We also have a meeting at 7 on Monday 9th in the Lounge in the SU and another on Tuesday 10th at 6 in the Lynher Room of Babbage building!

Lots to do, lots to do.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Mass demonstration outside M&S this SATURDAY

In solidarity with the arrested students of Jayyous, University of Plymouth students have organised a mass demo this Saturday at 1 o'clock outside the doors of Marks & Spencer's in the centre of town. Both students and non-students are encouraged to attend. We estimate we'll need around 50 people to create a human chain from the Roland Levinsky Building to the M&S doors.

We're also going to ask people to draw as many chalk body outlines on the floor outside the shop as possible. We can hopefully give you some t-shirts and banners and leaflets and things, all you need is your good selves.

Any problems get in touch:

Why M&S?

For more information on the boycott of Israeli goods, see:
And why M&S:

Emails to Sheffield Halam & Manchester

The President of Sheffield Hallam Students Union has taken it upon himself to suspend the Equal Opportunities officer, Matt Vicary after he took part in a stage occupation at the NUS conference demanding the NUS condemn Israels attacks on Gaza.

Matt's disciplinary hearing, which now will also be discussing the Hallam occupation, is due to take place this Thursday, 5th March at 3pm. We urge everyone to send a message of protest at the suspension and defend the solidarity movement within our student unions.

Please e-mail with your complaint, or copy and paste the following text (adding your name at the bottom) -

To the President of Hallam Union,

I am writing to express my outrage at your decision to suspend Matt Vicary from the position of Equal Opportunities for taking part in the occupation of the stage at the recent NUS conference.

When innocent people are being killed and there is a blatant injustice, it is only right that people speak out. Your decision to suspend Matt for exercising the right to free speech and peaceful protest is a disgrace to the student movement.

I urge you to reconsider this matter which you have approached in such an undemocratic manner, before the reputation of Hallam Union is damaged further.

Yours sincerely,

Manchester university have now been in occupation for nearly a month! Their vice-chancellor has so far failed to enter into negotiations and a demo is planned for this afternoon. Please take one minute of your morning to take action to support them. Copy and paste the text below into an email, adding your name at the bottom, and forward to We want to inundate him with support for the occupation! You can also call him at 0161 306 6010 to express your feelings. Please circulate widely.
Dear Vice-Chancellor Gilbert,
I am writing to express my total support for the Manchester University occupation in solidarity with Gaza and its demands.

The Manchester University occupation has been the longest and the largest of a national wave of UK university occupations in solidarity with Gaza and its students have shown admirable passion and commitment to this urgent cause. That its students are sufficiently compassionate and engaged to interrupt their own lives to this extent in order to speak out in solidarity with the victims of violence and oppression is surely something to be celebrated by Manchester University. The students have demonstrated utmost willingness to work together with the university administration and have sought negotiations throughout the entire protest.

The Manchester University occupation has the support of a strong national student movement and its principles and sentiments are reflective of those of the majority of the British public. Its demands are similar to those currently being implemented in numerous universities across the UK which are now working together with their students to put an end to their institutional collusion with the illegal Israeli occupation and find ways to use their privileged position to help those who are suffering because of it. Manchester should be no exception. Therefore we urge you to do the same and hope that you will begin working together with the students of the occupation to address their demands.

Yours sincerely,

NAME, Uni/organisation

Monday, 2 March 2009

Action Week!

This week will be a continuous week of action, both in solidarity with the arrested students of Jayyous as well as in trying to increase the pressure in the run up to the meeting on the University's proposed ethical investment program in 6 weeks time.

The following is the flyer we'll be handing out this week.


After the successful Plymouth University occupation in solidarity with the people of Gaza, which achieved up to six fully paid for scholarships for students of Gaza University as well as the supplying of humanitarian aid to Palestine, there will be a whole week of action this week for the students of Jayyous in the West Bank.

On February 18th 2009 Israeli forces arrested over 50 Palestinian students and nearly the entire youth committee of Stop the Wall Campaign. As a result students across the UK are staging week-long co-ordinated protests at the Israeli government's actions.


To keep up with all the events happening this week check the website at or join the Facebook group 'Plymouth Students Solidarity With Gaza'

We will have a stall all week outside the student's union, with flyers and people to talk to if you want more information about the Israeli state's UN condemned actions in Palestine.

We will also meet every evening this week at 7pm in the Hive, in the SU.

For more information, call: 07837788872
or email:

Saturday, 28 February 2009

APATHY RULES IN THE UK? NO WAY - Western Morning News article about the Plymouth Occupation


APATHY RULES? My left buttock-cheek. It is not political apathy that so afflicts this country. It is how to channel political energy towards effective change. Apathy? It is a word for the naysayers and cynics; for those who can only think in two-dimensional terms.
I witnessed its opposite at a local level in Plymouth this week when students occupied a room at the university for four days in protest at the Israeli air strikes on Gaza – and made a difference. They “voted with their feet”.
The result is that the university has agreed to grant scholarships to up to six students from the bombed Gaza University.
The students defied those who said it could not be done. They proved to the barstool and sitting-room complainers that it is they who are naive, it is they who need to “get a life”, it is they who are detached from reality.
Replicate such an achievement many times over and what progress could be made? Translate it on to a larger stage – national or international – and what might be achieved?
My point here is that nothing was ever changed by people pulling the duvet back over their heads or retreating into another pint. Politics is about the art of the possible. And whether that is about getting active over the closure of a local hospital or post office, or the privatisation of services, the raining down of bombs on civilians, or the barbarism of war, the same principle applies.
In this respect, I see little evidence of Apathy in the UK.
Where people are mostly disenchanted is with conventional and mainstream politics. They regard it as so disconnected from their concerns and needs – so removed as to occupy an orbit all of its own – that they hardly even bother to seek its representation. They vote with their feet, they organise themselves, they make their voices heard on their own terms.
This is what is called bottom-up democracy, as opposed to that misbegotten one that occupies Westminster.
It is why the Parliamentary political class are in such a state of fear and panic. They are in crisis. Their bankruptcy and democratic illegitimacy has been demonstrated exhaustively over recent decades. The last 12 years of New Labour have merely served to magnify the impression.
So it is that as we career into recession they become more desperate in their tactics to maintain control and to save their scalps. The louder the noise on the streets, the more they resort to authoritarian policy and reflex. The more desperate people become economically, the more they veer towards scapegoating and trying to tap populist nerve ends.
What, they may wonder, would happen if at the next General Election the turnout was a record low? Even by their own decayed standards, their crisis of illegitimacy would be acute.
Far more so than even now when a Prime Minister who no-one voted for parades himself as the only politician who can rescue us from the abyss.
At junctures such as this, this entrenched minority in Westminster revert to form.
They seek to remind us that “there is no alternative!” It is a choice between us or nothing, they say, as if it were handed down on tablets of stone that this decrepit system of government and social order should be the limit of our horizons.
They can start wars and bankrupt us; they can turn deceit into the normal currency of political debate. Yet still we are told – do not reject us outright, do not uproot the foundations.
Part of this deception involves peddling that word “apathy” as a General Election comes closer. Think of how your forebears fought and sacrificed themselves for the right to vote, we will be told. Think that this is what democracy means. Then, whatever you do, vote for one of us.
I rather reckon that my forebears – and many other people to the present day – have struggled far greater for an invigorated democracy. And I doubt that they would have regarded what we have now as much more than a parasitical burden on it; a cargo to be jettisoned.
For just what does the existing state of affairs have to offer us in our lifetimes except more of the same?
And what does that encourage? The kind of despondency, defeatism and alienation by which they ensure their continuity.
This is not what politics is all about. It is not something that should be defined on the careerist terms of those who seek office above us. Rather, it should be a language of our own writing.
That means doing far more of what we are best at – having the confidence to protest in either the smallest or greatest number. Doing more of what those students in Plymouth did this week. They made a difference in practical and symbolic terms. They roused others. And out of that something more can grow.
Vote, if you like, at the polls, but whatever you do – always vote with your feet.

- Neil Young, Western Morning News

Friday, 27 February 2009

4th day - Victory!

We had a meeting yesterday evening at 6 o'clock in order to discuss our collective views on the letter from Professor Wendy Purcell. Though we all agree that the conclusions outlined by the VC in her letter are a fantastic achievement for all of us, and is sufficient to draw our occupation to a close, we acknowledge that this is inevitably only the beginning. We, as students, intend to work with the Students' Union to ensure that the University management will keep their word.

Our achievements are as follows;

- The University of Plymouth will set up a humanitarian scholarships scheme, for students that for reasons of war, natural disaster or other calamity, are unable to continue to study at their home university. This will be a yearly recurring scheme, and the first 6 scholarships will be offered specifically to students of University of Gaza for the next academic year.

- The University of Plymouth will work with the other 30+ occupied universities to send aid and surplus materials to Gaza as a collective.

- Delegates from the occupation along with members of the Students' Union will put forward their case for an ethical investment plan (something that the University of Plymouth currently does not have) in six weeks time. This will include ending links with BAE Systems and an on-campus boycott of Israeli goods.

- There will be no legal, financial, or academic measures taken against anyone involved in or supporting the occupation.

We're all very proud of our university for making these decisions so quickly and so reasonably. The next big thing for us is the ethical investments plan meeting in 6 weeks time, for which we'll be doing a lot of work.
We're incredibly grateful to anyone that supported our occupation, including those of other universities that sent messages of support and solidarity. Together we've dispelled the myth that we simply cannot make a difference.

In solidarity
Plymouth Occupying Students

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Letter from Wendy Purcell, Vice-Chancellor

The following is our latest correspondence from Vice-Chancellor Wendy Purcell.

We're all very happy about this letter, but will meet tonight as a group to discuss whether or not we are happy to end the occupation.

Click for full size.

Another Response to the VC

We had another reply yesterday afternoon from the university management. It was basically the same previous statement, but signed by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor. We also received a draft letter outlining the university's proposal to approve the establishment of up to six fully funded Humanitarian Scholarships to be made available to students that, for reasons of war, natural disaster or other calamity, are unable to continue to study at their home university.

We worked on a reply last night and sent it to the VC early this morning. Our reply is as follows:

Dear Professor Purcell

Re: University of Plymouth occupation in solidarity with Gaza

We would like to thank you for your signed agreement to offer surplus resources to Gaza University. However the occupying students still do not feel that the other proposals made by the institution sufficiently address the concerns raised. We feel that failure to speak out against human rights violations is implicitly a form of political statement. Silence does not amount to impartiality. We would ask again that discussion of this issue be brought to the Chief Executive’s Group for debate, and justifications are given for the decisions of that group, in the form of a public statement.

We recognise that one way we can influence the University’s investment policy is through the Sustainability Group and will do so via the Student Parliament and the next Ethical Investment Policy meeting. However we must express disappointment at the University’s lack of public disaffiliation with BAE Systems in particular given their strong industry links with BAE, and the fact that 236 of the 362 Israel Defence Forces F-16 jets were sold to the IDF by BAE systems, which were used in the recent UN-condemned attacks on Gaza. We also see this lack of disaffiliation as a political statement on behalf of the University.

Regarding the provision of scholarships, we commend the university, upon its proposed plans to establish a scheme for the provision of humanitarian scholarships. We would like to see a firm commitment from the university as to the specific number of scholarships to be offered, and feel that this should be no less than six fully funded scholarships. We also feel that given the urgent nature of the current situation in Gaza, the University of Plymouth should commit to offering these humanitarian scholarships to students from Gaza university in the 2009/2010 academic year.

We would like to re-emphasise that we are keen for lectures to continue in this room, as it has never been our aim to disrupt the lectures of our fellow students, and there is no reason why our presence should prevent lectures from taking place as normal.

It is still of our opinion that this issue warrants your personal attention and response.

- The Plymouth Occupying Students

More photos!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Response to the Vice-Chancellor

Dear Professor Purcell

Re: University of Plymouth occupation in solidarity with Gaza

We are aware of your request for the occupying students to leave room 202 of the Smeaton building by tomorrow morning. However, we feel that the proposals presented to us by Dr Anita Jellings do not sufficiently address our concerns. Furthermore, we feel that these issues merit your personal attention and response, for which we would be most grateful.

We wish to reiterate the fact that the occupying students will not disturb the lectures of our fellow students taking place in the room. Today the university management decided to relocate lectures to alternative locations. The occupying students would be keen for lectures to continue in this room without interruption. We are willing for a small group to remain unobtrusively at the back of the room, as a symbolic presence.

With regards to your response to the demand that the university issue a statement condemning Israel’s actions in Gaza, we request that this demand be raised with the Chief Executive’s Group for debate. Should they come to the same conclusion, we request a formal statement explaining their reasons; in particular why the University of Plymouth cannot condemn human rights violations.

The university’s proposed ethical investment plan is not specific to our concerns. A proposed solution we would be happy with would include a review of the University’s indirect investments and activities with BAE Systems at the next Sustainability Group meeting. We request confirmation of such.

We are pleased with your proposition to work with other universities to provide surplus teaching materials to students at the University of Gaza, however we request that this be formally guaranteed and documented. Furthermore, we are pleased that you are willing to consider the request to provide six students from Gaza University with scholarships at the University of Plymouth, although we request that this be formally confirmed rather than merely considered.

We look forward to your personal response on these terms.

The occupying students of the University of Plymouth

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

First Pictures of the Occupation!

Beautiful grey building, eh?

First Statement from University

24 hours in and we have our first response to our demands from the university management. We're having a meeting tonight to discuss our next course of action. Until then, I'll just post the letter we received from the Dean of Students on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor.

The Dean of Students, Dr Anita Jellings, met with Adam Whittaker from the Solidarity with Gaza group, on Tuesday 24 February, at the request of the group. Students' Union Vice President Alison Smith was also present.

Adam outlined the aims of the protest.

The following is a summary of the informal response from the Dean of Students:

The University of Plymouth upholds the principle that there should be freedom to express any view, as long as the pursuance of such freedoms remains within the law and university policy. The university will not take any disciplinary measures against any student protesters whilst they also uphold that principle.

The academic freedom that everyone in the university community enjoys is contingent on adherence to neutrality on political issues by the university, and the university does not make political statements on any issue.

The university is currently developing an ethical investment policy and exploring its procurement approach through its Sustainability Group, on which the Students' Union is represented as a full member. The Solidarity with Gaza group is advised to direct its aims related to investment and procurement through that representational route.

The university will liaise with other Higher Education Institutions in the UK to contribute to a co-ordinated response to the request for surplus educational resources to be provided to the University of Gaza.

The university will consider the request to provide a number of scholarships for students from Gaza University to study at the University of Plymouth, through the group responsible for the provision of scholarships.

The university requests the Solidarity with Gaza group to end its sit-in protest peacefully, and will update the group on progress with the actions proposed through liaison between the Dean of Students, Students' Union Vice President Alison Smith, and Adam Whittaker.

Needless to say, we're not happy about the vagueness of this response. We'll post an update once we've had a chance to hear how everyone feels about the situation later tonight.