★ ISM - UK
From my inbox:
Friday the 13th in Finland - Universitarians in mobilization
In Finland, Friday 13 March 2009 was a national day of action against the new University Act. There were bigger and smaller demonstrations, discussion meetings and occupations at least in Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Joensuu, Oulu and Tampere.
The Finnish Parliament will decide about the law proposal during the spring. Among the university staff and students, there is a strong opposition to the new law - but this opposition has been ignored until now. Only recently, since Opiskelijatoiminta began organizing protests against the law, the critical discussions about the transformations of the university have started to gain more publicity.
In Helsinki, 1500 people (mostly students, researchers, employees) marched from the University of Helsinki towards the Parliament. In the front of the Parliament House, protesters blocked the traffic for some time. The statements of the Minister of Education were criticized harshly in the demonstration. The demonstration went through the city center, and ended up at the campus where few hundreds of people occupied the main building of the University of Helsinki. The occupation is continuing today Saturday.
The title of the demonstration was "Against the new University Act, for knowledge workers' rights". Opiskelijatoiminta stresses that the University Act does not affect only universitarians but also the society as whole. Education and the University should be seen as a field for the struggle for the forms of democracy in the knowledge society. What will be the employees' rights? How can we transform the university into a place for people to encounter, produce information and share it freely?
The struggle against the University Act continues and the struggle to build our university - the common university - has only begun.
We want to send our solidarity to universitarians in the struggle in all countries. Together we can win!
"On Wednesday, a petition with nearly 7,000 signatures was submitted to the Parliamentary Education Committee, opposing the bill, and calling for starting work on university reform from the beginning.
The proposed changes have been opposed by students and large numbers of university staff. A key issue is the fear that university would be increasingly business-driven."
Spain/ Catalonia [12/03]:
The following message reached me via email:
Here in Barcelona we've make a big student demonstration rally yesterday thursday the 12, with about 12.000 people. At the end of the manifestation, a part of the central buliding of the university Pompeu Fabra was occupied by about 2000 students, and 200 passed the night inside (the inside of the university:http://www.flickr.com/photos/23647923@N05/3349970902/ & http://www.flickr.com/photos/23647923@N05/3349961470/). this night the police enter in the building and ends the ocupation. At the moment we are making a press release.
The central building of the Barcelona University still remain squatted from 114 days.
saludos desde Barcelona!!!
Website of the International Comission located inside the occuppied University of Barcelona:
Poland (Gdańsk) [19/03]
"Otwarty Komitet Uwalniania Przestrzeni Édukacyjnych - OKUPÉ" (Open Commitee for Liberation of the Educational Space) from University of Gdańsk (Poland) is calling for a flashmob against the commercialization of education on March 19: OKUPE.blogspot.com
~ UPDATE ~
March 19th, Gdansk. A group of students called for a "flesh mob" happening today at 1pm. At the Social Sciences Department building of the local university, some of the students began behaving like living dead - this time, literally! There was a slight panic when "zombie" students banged into elevators and the doors of the department's restaurant.. However, after 5 minutes other students and University staff could return to their everyday occupations. This action was a protest by the Gdansk Open Commitee for Liberation of the Educational Space (OKUPE) against commercialisation of education and the administration's lack of will to respect the students' and staff's view on important decisions affecting them.
Yesterday, at morning, one of the main gates to the Gdansk University campus were locked by an undercover team, and a banner "Detention Campus?" was hung on the gate. The action was a protest against recent spending of University's money on surveillance and on a fence enclosing the space, and it was aided by posters and fliers spread around the gate, saying that "The University's >>open doors<< are only for 3 days.
Our everyday routine is surveillance and lack of debate". Previously, the University's space was open to the public. The construction of the fence and increased surveillance has been financed in spite of financial difficulties of students and the university itself, and as such has been protested against - although until yesterday, silently.
Both actions were taken during official "Open doors" Educational Marketing Days, 3 days during which educational institutions were able to advertise at the campus, and schools from around the country sent groups of pupils to see the campus and compare higher education facilities. This enabled to spread the message of the will to have a say at the University campus wider than just to the students and staff.
The Gdansk Open Commitee for Liberation of the Educational Space (OKUPE) believes that a debate on how to take decisions at the University affecting all its comunity, is necessary.
Other campuses face similar problems with their administrations, eg. in Poznan on January 14th, the university authorities ignored the traditional autonomy of the University, and let police attack student members of a peaceful protest against Ghaza bombing at the University. Poznan's Anarchist Federation protested against this disrespect of autonomy, and demanded answers from the university authorities. However, the recent answers from the authorities were unserious and sided with the police.
Recent education protests elsewhere:
Any reports of protests and recent developments from around the world are most welcome!