Well, yesterday was interesting and contrary to popular belief, the occupation is still on. There were some misunderstandings from upstairs but we think we have those sorted now and things are back on track. Well, mostly anyway. We are negotiating for a new suitable room that is not going to have building work in it but this is actually a bit of an imposition. Occupations are supposed to be contentious, they are supposed to stop operations and they are supposed to make some people annoyed, some people stressed and some people supportive. We have acted with nothing but integrity and find the insinuation that we have done otherwise insulting and offensive. In the few weeks since coming back into occupation, we have caused considerable positive press and have done nothing but raised the profile of the university.
We have been accused of bringing the name of the university into disrepute and this is also offensive. Anyone who has been following the campaign, reading the articles we have been in and written, heard the interviews on radio, looked at the blogs and planning campaigns can clearly see that we have stuck to a message of “we are here because the teaching standard and time with each student is so high and that is why we feel we must save Leeds Trinity University College”. There are a number of messages we could be sending out that would certainly damage recruitment and there have been considerable conversations about whether we should or not but the point of those discussions and every discussion is whether we would be seen to be acting with integrity to do so. Our demands have the sole aim of ensuring that Trinity continues to offer the ethos we came here for and we chose this university for being forward thinking enough to provide that. If there has been any damage done to the university, then it was done by a failure to reassure students of their position in a timely manner and having everybody rely on what little information is available.
Contradictory messages add to confusion and worry about the future of the institution. Without responding to our demands, we are not in a position to deny or confirm any rumours we hear as we have no facts available to us from the institution, which is also one of the demands. If we are facing such dangerous and turbulent times, shouldn’t the students be offered an honest appraisal of the decisions determining their future? Statements being made that act to put off a serious and pressing issue with assurances of finances being stable are not useful for anyone when the contrary is so obviously the case. There would not be a need to discuss redundancy, departmental merging, more redundancy and mortgages were the college to be financially robust. None of this would make sense if you were aware of the lag year that all universities face where the new fees have not been brought in but the funding from the government has stopped. Every university is going to have a year where they cannot afford to operate and it is not in 2012, it is next year. Which means everyone except third year is going to be affected by this.
We have acted with integrity throughout the campaign, we have always made sure to send the message “Trinity is worth saving, if you keep it running with all the staff in place, then we will fight with everything we have to oppose these cuts, ensure recruitment and providing the student voice with the power to influence decision making”. If that message is not palatable, then there is something behind all of this that is making us very nervous indeed. We are the stakeholders of the university and we have the power and the duty to ensure that the institution we have become a part of, responds to dangerous and turbulent times with morality and dignity. The occupation will continue to send its message, it is a message of hope but grim determination and we will continue to defend our position because from what we have seen, it is the most honest and moral available.