Last week the Goldsmiths Senior Management Team wrote to the Student Union to inform it that unless no further occupations occurred in the College, the Student Union would be liable for £15,000 of “damages” caused during the occupation of Deptford Town Hall. As many students have pointed out, this amounts to a policy of blackmail against the Student Union and Goldsmiths Students. The Deptford Town Hall occupation was not undertaken under the aegis of the Union: the Union cannot be made liable for any damages caused during it. Furthermore, students cannot be prevented from protesting against management decisions by being subjected to arbitrary threats.
Management’s unnecessary decision to close the College Library until Monday for stock-checking and cleaning is an attempt to punish students for protesting against their policies. By refusing to take a public position in opposition to teaching cuts and tuition fees, the SMT has failed to represent the opinion of the overwhelming majority of its staff and students. The Library Occupation of earlier this week kept the College Library open for twenty-four hours a day for students and the wider public; on the eve of the most mutilating changes ever imposed on UK Higher Education, the Library occupation attempted to demonstrate to SMT that it cannot continue to ignore the people it ought to be serving. Despite this, essential library services such as book returns and lending remained available, as did IT services and study space.
Management’s closure of the library on Friday evening for a projected period of sixty hours is intended to send a message to students: that if they protest, they will pay.
The tactic of blackmail attempts to turn Goldsmiths students against those who fight cuts and fees. We believe this tactic of divide and rule is typical of contemporary university administrations, but the manoeuvring of Goldsmiths’ SMT is no less objectionable for being normal. By tacitly accepting the government policy agenda, the College management endorses an enormous project of social exclusion, designed to abolish UK Higher Education as a social good. The management endorses a violent attack on future students; and when current students protest it threatens punitive recriminations.
We realise that if students are to avoid being bludgeoned into submission, we must stay together. In order to resist divide and rule, a group of us have reoccupied the library during the period of its closure. We insist that Management cease to bullyingly withdraw services and impose penalties on its student body. We will not be split apart by these tactics. Stock-checking can happen when the library is open.