We had a great morale boost today following a visit from a lovely old lady (we don’t know her name!). She had met representatives of Occupied LTUC at the Leeds Against Cuts rally last week and praised the speech that was delivered, as well as supporting our cause. She also engaged in an informal chat about other campaigns and we all enjoyed putting the world to rights. Unfortunately the visit was cut short due to a meeting with Freda Bridge (The Principal and Chief Executive of Leeds Trinity University College).
In the meeting we discussed the demands which we are asking of the institution. Firstly, we informed her of what we’ve done so far in the campaign, informing her of our media coverage to present (including a shout out on Citizen Radio and solidarity from Mark Thomas). Unfortunately, the fire alarm went off in the middle of the meeting, which disrupted the points we were trying to get across. However, proceedings continued soon after.
We went on to have a general chat about other occupations across the country and in the local area, including some of the dirty tactics used by University management at other institutions (such as blasting cold air into the rooms or turning off the internet). Freda went on to read her statement to the group which, although mentioned each of the demands, was very vague and wasn’t sufficient to assure us of any of the concerns we have.
Freda made a point of mentioning that Leeds Trinity has a diverse student population in all sense of the word but particularly in terms of socioeconomic status.
Freda also stated that the student experience was paramount and would not be compromised by any cuts that had to be made.
“The Student Experience” is a term that has been frequently used during our various discussions with Freda over the last week, but what does this actually mean? We asked for Freda’s definition of “The Student Experience”.
Freda’s definition of “The Student Experience” is: That students are happy, have a good academic experience, obtain high quality degree and enjoy a high quality teaching and learning experience. Students should enjoy a good social environment, sufficient accommodation on campus and students should have access to various stimulating activities outside of lectures.
The group discussed with Freda the problem that the University has been depoliticised and how we plan to combat it. It was also mentioned that Students need to know it is their right to have their voices heard and say when they are unhappy.
As a group we came to a consensus that “The Student Experience” should be overseen by a body that has a vested interest in ensuring that the experience is maintained and have first hand experience as to what “The Student Experience” should be. This matter will be addressed in the coming weeks and proposals will be put for forward to this move it forward in the New Year.
The group expressed its concerns over campus development and the security of schemes such as the Academic Writers in Residence. Freda was unable to give us any assurances on this matter but said she will inform us when details of HEFC funding and news of continued Royal Literary Fund support becomes available.
The group said to Freda that Students are a major stakeholder in the Institution and as such should be consulted on major changes to the institution, not just Occupied LTUC or LTSAC but the entire student body.
The meeting was then closed and it was agreed by both parties (Freda and the members of the Occupation.) that an open dialog will continue in order to move the campaign forward.
On a lighter and more informal note it dawned on us that tomorrow the Occupation will be suspended for Christmas and we reflected with amusement and pride on the goings on over the last nine days. We have achieved a great deal since the birth of Leeds Trinity Students Against Cuts and later Occupied LTUC and all of whom have been a part of it should proud of what we have achieved.
Despite being increasing more and more sleep deprived to our delight we were visited by the “wonderfully supportive family” from day five that once again graced us with their company and yet another freshly baked cake.
The Occupation is now winding down in preparation for tomorrows suspension and we are looking forward to January. We are currently brainstorming ideas and looking forward to the Occupied LTUC Christmas dinner tomorrow. This evening members of Leeds Socialist Students have joined us in Solidarity.
Tonight we are embarking on our last evening on the hard floor of AG21 in 2010 with both sadness and resolve.