An update from the Student group ‘Leeds University Against the Cuts’
The UCU blog has received the following communication from the ‘Leeds University Against the Cuts’ student group.
“The group has been formed from not only various political societies on campus but also from students who have not been a member of any political society beforehand. The campaign’s sole purpose is to fight against the job cuts at Leeds University and show solidarity with other Universities, as well as show some support for other political groups on campus with related issues.
Since forming, the group have met several times in meetings which are open and democratic and anyone can come and make their opinion heard or offer some suggestion or offer their services. Although naturally most students who attend regularly are politics students, we get a few students from many different backgrounds and the campaign is trying to encompass every single department on campus and build up a network where each department has an action group in charge of informing their fellow students, knowing which staff are under threat etc.
The group has made connections with Birmingham, Hull and Sheffield Universities who are all suffering from possible job cuts. Each Uni at the moment has the threat of cuts for particular departments rather than a campus-wide culling but (as I suggested to the Birmingham people) If You Tolerate This Then Your Department Will Be Next.
Hull University’s Education officer helped pass a motion to support grass-roots campaigns and put £300 aside to support other Unis. The idea is to build a northern movement and release a newsletter to circulate at each Uni with updates. Hopefully a northern movement would consist of Unis from Newcastle to Liverpool, from Manchester to Hull, from Sheffield to Leeds, from Salford to York, all in unity.
For roughly 10 days we had a stall outside the Union giving out flyers and raising awareness of events and the upcoming cuts. We organised a protest for the last week of term which took a ‘tour of shame’ round campus and generally just made our presence known. Though we didn’t go near the School of English, apparently they heard us in the basement!
The campaign has really two heads, one is a more active, poster making/flyer producing/protest organising head that actively campaigns. However, the group understand some students don’t really click with chants and placards so we’re planning more political lobbying via petitions and plans are in the works for an artistic response and a night of poetry, spoken word, music and theatre to raise awareness of the campaign.
The response from staff has been fantastic, the number of tutors coming up to us on the stall and thanking us has really given us heart, and the Security staff, although kept a wary eye on us during the protest, thanked us for organising it nevertheless. Also thanks to th Christian Union for supplying us with free tea, coffee and hot chocolate on the long, cold hours!
Any student wanting more information please go to the Facebook Group Leeds University Against Job Cuts or send me a message on email@example.com. We want anyone with any suggestions or ideas or anyone willing to come on board designing or putting out flyers and posters or, more importantly, to raise awareness in their own departments and work with the staff of each school to build up support on a local level and report back to the campus-wide campaign. The idea is hopefully for each department to be able to build a local network of support that can feed back into the larger campaign (e.g. S.O.S.: ‘Save Our Sociology’ campaign at Birmingham).